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My First Foraging walk in the UK

My name is Surjit Power the New Community Gardener Engagement Coordinator at GCDA.

 

Kevin (Growing Coordinator) had organized a foraging walk in Abbey Wood; I thought we would be going into Abbey Woods but was surprised when he said that we would be walking around urban Abbey Wood, the local streets.

 




 The sun was out, and the sky was blue, and it finally felt that spring had arrived. I don't think I have been on a foraging walk in the UK, my last forage walk was in Australia, Daintree; one of the oldest rainforests in the world. I didn't know what to expect of our walk in Abbey Wood.

 

We met Kevin at the Abbey Wood Community Center, there were 12 participants including a baby in her push chair;  We only walked around the corner and Kevin showed us our first plant that was edible. Herb Robert: I was shocked as I thought it was a weed. Kevin stated that we should eat the tender leaves and/or add into hot water to drink for upset stomach; for its soothing properties, or by crushing the leaves and rubbing into the skin as an insect repellent.   

 

Well, the walk could only get better, it was and interesting and informative;  Kevin's knowledge of plants and trees was amazing, he gave us the traditional Latin names of plants as well as the common names that we would recognize and would find in our gardens, parks or local green spaces. It was a very interactive, Kevin answered questions that we all asked and was patient when we all went off track; We walked around tasting tender baby leaves and looking around and up at trees, as we would normally walk past trees and plants and take no notice of them, this expanded our horizons on foraging. Things were around us and we never took any notice of them.

 

The walk nearly took 2 hours, we were introduced to plum & cherry trees and learnt that from the different coloured leaves what the fruit would look like and when it was the right time to pick fruits.  Kevin took us to the Abbey Wood Community Orchard where we saw apples, pear, hazelnut, oak trees. We were shown Chamomile flowers, berries to eat and when the best time to pick them up.

 

I learnt a lot from Kevin but also the other participants. We chatted with each other, shared experiences of gardening and got to know each.  I could see how being part of a group benefits everyone and can reduce isolation and enhance wellbeing.  I would definitely like to be part of another forage walk.

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