After the darkness and cold, when there’s little wild food to be found, Spring walks are a relief and a joy. Much of what’s to be found in Spring, is a promise of Summer and Autumn feasts to come, such as the blossoms on our wild apple trees. Spot too the beginnings of sour wild cherries…delicious for wine or compotes, but you’ll have to beat the birds to them!
In Newhaven you can find apple, cherry, hazel, damson and medlar trees on Castle Hill nature
reserve. These local trees originate from stock planted in the war to help feed the soldiers garrisoned
here and provide valuable vitamins for the townsfolk.
Fruit is a really good way to start foraging safely, especially apples as they are so easy to
identify. But have you tried baby nettle and fiddle head soup?
Fiddle heads are the new ferns you see pushing out of the ground in their recognisable spiral
pattern, and nettles are a plant most of us know all too well after being stung. Did you
know they are rich in protein as well as vitamins?
If like me, you are keen to try wild foods, and see plants you think are edible but just
don’t quite dare, why not try a course? There are plenty available across Sussex and we’ve some
suggested links on this website. Here’s a site that looks really interesting and the
courses take place outside, many involving walks…and even some with wild flavoured cocktails!
Even if you don’t come home laden with nature’s bounty, there’s really nothing nicer than
wandering about in the countryside identifying plants. Going to the same places in each season
and all weathers fosters a deep connection with the landscape, our precious local habitat.
Out walking I’m always surprised at how much wildlife I encounter. Learning what plants are growing
wild, and supporting the richest biodiversity around where we live, really helps inform us the best
plants to grow in our gardens. This knowledge can increase the corridor effects we really need. Then there’s just daydreaming, something we don’t do nearly enough of.
Before I go…here’s a link to a recipe for fiddlehead and nettle happy soup! Enjoy.