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By Ross Bentley
Monday, October 29, 2012
OUTDOOR enthusiasts gathered at the weekend to learn about the forgotten art of foraging.
The term refers to the search for edible and nutritious morsels growing wild in hedgerows, woods and roadside verges.
The educational event was held at Tiger Hill nature reserve near Assington and was hosted by reserve warden Nick Miller.
He said: “Knowledge about how to use our wild plants, nuts and berries used to be handed down from generation to generation and until recently many people used plants like dandelions to make homemade wine. But today most people get their information from books.
“People are unlikely to survive purely on foraging, it’s more of a hobby. But knowing about the properties of plants and trees can greatly enhance a walk.”
And it is clear from the Saturday morning event there is a great deal to learn once you start foraging.
Plants like watercress, wild radish, and hedge garlic can make tasty additions to salads while horseradish, wild sorrel and elderflower can be used for flavourings and are easily found throughout Suffolk. Nettle tea can also make a refreshing change from PG Tips.
This time of year wild mushrooms come into their own and this year has been particularly good for fungi compared with the dry autumns we’ve experienced of late. Puffballs, parasols and blewits are just some of the locally-found fungi that can be taken home for dinner.
But Mr Miller has a word of warning for would-be foragers preparing to head out into the wilds.
“There are a number of toxic mushrooms out there and my rule is if you are uncertain don’t eat it. The problem is you can easily get it wrong. For example, there is a type of amanitus mushroom, which is poisonous, that resembles the field mushroom, which you can eat. And telling the two apart can be difficult.”
The event was organised by the Transition Sudbury and District group, which wants to encourage people to source local food and connect more with the local environment.
The group has developed an online map to show where wild fruit and nuts are available in the area. All spots featured on the map are on public land and visitors are invited to add information about spots they know.
Visitwww.transitionsudbury.blogspot.com to find out more.