Will's Wild Food Diary

 Wild food diary

Fresh, organic and free! Of all things bushcrafty, nothing gets me more excited than a foraging adventure.

From time to time, I update this page with a different wild food that is in season –  gradually building up a seasonal diary of some of the foraging delights available to us.

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Disclaimer: there's lots of good wild stuff to eat, and much of it is fairly easy to identify. Unfortunately, there are also some plants and fungi that can make you seriously ill or worse. This diary is a brief overview intended to inspire and not a substitute for an in-depth field guide and/or skilled teacher. I will endeavour to point out any obvious poisionous look alikes, but ultimately foraging is the individual's responsibility. Unless you are 100 per cent confident you know what something is, leave it alone! Also, please be aware that, as with any food, different people can have different reactions. It is wise to try just a small amount first.

Forgotten fruit

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This post is a bit different from usual. In fact, it’s more of a ‘heads up’ (literally in some ways) for a IMG_20190910_112646_386familiar and tasty food source that will soon be coming into abundance – yet is often not noticed.

I’m talking about forgotten fruit. The myriad apples, pears, plums and sometimes even figs that grow wild and are often just ignored in the general busyness of life that humans like to distract themselves with. 

Sometimes they are the outcome of a casually thrown core or a passing bird that has digested some seeds, and sometimes you can get really lucky and find old abandoned orchards, where the fruit is simply falling and rotting on the ground.*

When I was living in Dorset, I had a mind-map of various wild fruit trees that were largely ignored; there were zingy fresh apples from a track near Hengistbury Head and succulent pears growing on the edge of a central Bournemouth park. While an avenue of the sweetest plum trees, hidden on the southern side of an wood in west Dorset, was perhaps most enticing – the beguiling question of who planted them there and why, long lost to time.

IMG_20190910_112323_445Closer to where I grew up, in Berkshire, there is an overgrown and forgotten abbey orchard that overflows with fruit for the best part of three months every year; it's on the edge of a regular walking route, yet I’ve never seen another soul in there (apart from the close I tipped off a while ago).  

Most memorable of all, was an autumnal trip through Galicia, NW Spain, a few years ago. Sadly, 238733878_4138252699606887_3212219052552708047_nthe rural areas have been largely abandoned by the younger generations, and left behind, tucked deep in the valleys and behind the headlands, is an abundance of overgrown and forgotten orchards. Places of mist and melancholy, that fine autumn we feasted on glorious organic figs, apples and pears – giving thanks to the toil of the old farmers who were probably long gone.

So there we have it; when you're out and about over the next few months, keep those eyes peeled. 

*Of course, the birds, mice, insects and other wildlife also enjoy these forgotten fruits, so nothing is ultimately wasted, but it feels good to liberate some for human enjoyment too.

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