Saltburn Wild Food Walk
Discover FREE FOOD for life with our wild food foraging walk. On this two hour walk you will learn facts about approx. 25 edible plants and trees, how to harvest and prepare them, together with the benefits and caveats involved in Wild Food Foraging. Under 14’s are FREE. The Saltburn Wild Food Walk will be on Sunday 20th May at 2-4pm to meet near the childrens play park at the top of the Valley Gardens, near Victoria Terrace. There is ample free parking along this road, we will then walk down through the Valley Gardens. Dress warmly.
Di has been running Wild Harvest Foraging walks for over 12 years now, starting on the North Yorkshire Moors/Dales and running walks for the Forestry Commission and the Moors centres and selling her candles, hedgerow herbal teas and cordials through them.
Wild Harvest is a member of the Association of Foragers. If you choose another company to provide you with a wild food walk please do check how long they have been doing in business and if they are an Association of Foragers Member – this will give you reassurance, as correct information and the effective teaching of it are essential for this subject !
Wild Food Walk Testimonial
“I found Diane’s wild food walk inspirational in changing my outlook on weeds such as nettles and dandelions into informative suggestions in preparing these foods for maximum benefit. I went on this wild food walk wanting to expand my knowledge of survival skills for future-proofing oneself in a worst-case scenario and found it to be just what I was looking for…Diane is a very calm and patient teacher. Diane has a real passion for teaching these things as she has lived and breathed self-sufficiency for many many years.”
Linda Harrison went for a forage with wild food expert Diana Hammill.
“You can eat this – have a taste,” urges wild food expert Diana Hammill, holding out a plant with a clutch of small bright yellow flowers.
Diana explains it’s a tansy plant that grows along the riverbank and pops some into her mouth.
I taste it tentatively. It’s got an odd tang and it’s quite sweet, although I’m assured it’s better cooked. Among its many uses are flavouring puddings and omelettes. The seeds can also be baked in biscuits – once a tradition at Yorkshire funerals, according to Diana.
I’m on an urban foraging walk near Skeldergate Bridge that promises “free greens for life”. Every few steps we stop at plants that I’d normally walk past, but which I’m learning can be added to all kinds of tasty dishes.
Diana points out a patch of green leaves that look like weeds. They’re actually edible and called Plantain.
“They’re a bit tough at this time of year, but eat them early in the season and they’re good raw in salads or in a creamy sauce with gammon,” says Diana.
“They’re rich in vitamin B and the seeds can be eaten like sesame seeds.”
Diana, started the walks to share her passion for the wild food that grows around us in York. An adult education teacher specialising in rural crafts, she became interested in wild food after thinking about the health and survival of her three young children.
She says: “Wild food is fantastic for three reasons: It’s free, it’s very very healthy and it’s sustainable.
“It’s also about ‘futureproofing’ your family for tomorrow. I wanted my children to know how to feed themselves.”
Next is a hawthorn hedge, near St George’s Field car park. I’m amazed at all the different parts of the hedge that can be eaten, including the leaf buds (delicious rolled in suet pastry with bacon), blossom (dried for a tea), and the bright red berries, which can be scoffed straight off the bush or made into jam.
There are also plenty of salad ingredients up for grabs, such as hawthorn leaves and dandelion leaves, as well as “wayside nibbles” like plump brambles.
It’s fascinating to learn that so much on a city riverside is edible.
Diana explains that knowledge of wild food was once very common in this country. She crouches down near some green leaves called Silverweed – our ancestors cooked and ate the root before the advent of potatoes.
Next we come to a row of nettles. I’m a fan of nettle tea and try to grab a handful, but I can’t help wondering about germs – how do I know they haven’t been polluted by dogs, or worse?
Diana recommends picking only the tips and at a safe height.
As we go our separate ways near the Millennium Bridge, my head’s buzzing with ideas.
The advice for newbie wild food explorers is to take it slowly and choose five foraging foods to try in a year. Then choose another five the next year, and so on.
I’m going to start with the nettle tips I squirreled away in my bag – and head home to make my first free brew.
For more information email [email protected]
Wild food foraging fundamentals
• Conservation: Remember to leave some for tomorrow – and for the other wildlife
• Pollution. Don’t pick plants next to roads, or fields that have recently been sprayed
• Avoid ID errors: If you’re not sure about a plant, first check it against a reliable guide book like Food For Free by Richard Mabey. If it looks and sounds similar, rub it on your arm or neck and wait up to 30 minutes for a reaction. Repeat the process on the inside of your lip. Then chew it and spit it out. And if still in doubt, consult an expert.
First appeared in the York Press 14/09/2012