Foraging builds lasting relationships

Finding a foraging partner may seem like an impossible task, especially if your partner shows no interest in rising before sun break or have time to spare hunting the hedgerow’s for the latest crop of wild berries or leaves. 

Foraging for some is a chance to reconnect with nature, embracing the elements to seasonal harvest your latest discovery and jumping out of a warm bed to greet the morning dew is a blessing rather than a curse.

Animals rise from their sleep den or burrow, shake off their morning blues and begin foraging without giving it another thought. Eagerly searching the ground for the freshest leaves, roots, fruits and nuts that lay in their path as they scour the earth for a nutritious meal.
Communal foraging or social foraging is when two or more forgers meet to search the same location, slowly methodically scanning over the area in search of wild edibles. A high efficient and productive method of gathering (in the case of animals consuming) a variety of vitamin rich food, yet conserving energy. This is not a power walk or a race to finish, foraging effectively is learning to identify and really see what’s in front of you. 

Visually connecting and positively identifying wild plants and how you can use them in your kitchen. 
This not only stimulates your brain function during a forage, but also allows you to escape from the pressures of everyday life, the bills, the in-laws, problems with the neighbours, stress at work etc etc..
Once you have experienced this for yourself your going to want to share it! Foraging with your family is a great way to introduce the whole group together as a unit to share the great outdoors.
Before your plan a foraging expedition for your friends and family, here’s a few things to consider;
1. Plan your route, based on people’s abilities.
2. Walk the route several times and research the wild plants along the way.
3. Choose plants that are easily identified to share with your family.
4. Make a note of any poisonous plants along the way.
5. Tell your family to dress weather appropriate.
6. Prepare a short introduction and share what you have learnt during the forage.
7. Make sure everyone is involved, taking pictures, sharing stories, enjoying the elements.
8. Plan a meal based on the wild edibles you and your family have picked.
During this time you can introduce a few important country code issues, for example where you can and cannot forage, plants that should be left for the wild animals, protected species, litter, personal experiences etc.
Foraging brings people together, Taking time to forage will connect you and your family in a new and exciting way. Meeting new people on a social forage, helps you make new friendships and relationships a chance to share experiences and knowledge.
I spent last summer foraging with family, friends and new fellow foragers keen to learn more, personally I found this a life changing experience, I strengthened relationships by connected with family members on a whole new level. I made friends with people who normally I would of had very little common interest, foraging brought us together and enabled us to connect and grow in a unexpected direction. 

During a forage you will get to meet people from all walks of life, those who work with nature on a a daily basis, those who are office based and love the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. Mum’s, Dad’s, children, grandparents foraging is open to all abilities and can be adapted depending on your location or immediate surroundings.
Be aware of local bylaws and trespassing when foraging and never harvest edibles near a busy road, the fumes from passing traffic will spoil the crop and making gathering extremely dangerous.
Instead find a quite off road location, get permission from a local farmer or walk one of the many costal paths that grace our plentiful land. 
Remember foraging is location specific, so just because you pick something daily at home, when you are on holiday or take a foraging trip, chances are you will find a variety of different wild edibles to enjoy. 
So always keep that reference book handy! 
Enjoy foraging with loved ones x
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About Head Gardener 290 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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