The Monumental Turf

I’ve been interested in foraging for a few years.  When I was doing the 100 mile diet (a project where I only ate food that came from within 100 miles for a year), I set up a foraging group.  The idea was that we would go out for a forage every month, but like many of my good ideas, I soon found that I didn’t have the time or energy to organise this.  The google group remained though, and as time went on, more and more people have joined, until now there are around 45.  It has found it’s own way of working too.  What usually happens is that someone will send out an email asking if anyone wants to go on a forage, and usually people do, so off they trot.  I have found it interesting to watch how something has found its own level and maintained itself  – not through good design, but largely by accident.

Having not done anything forage-y for a while, in the summer I decided I would reinvigorate my foraging career by inviting my friend professional forager Andy Hamilton (he of the elderflower champagne recipe) to come and lead a forage.  I did some marketing and got a bunch of people together.  Unfortunately, despite getting to Brighton and getting to the park when we were going to do it, Andy then got really sick (it turned out later that he had something wrong with his liver) and had to go home.  So Stefan (dreadlocks, green t-shirt), Caroline (dark hair, rust coloured cardigan) and I had to lead the forage.  It actually turned out that when we pooled our resources, we knew loads.  This is a picture of the feast that we had afterwards.  We had a dandelion fritter production line going on.  One thing I learnt from organising this forage were – always get money off people first.  If Andy hadn’t been ill (and hence no one paid anything), I would have ended up considerably out of pocket on this one as people who told me they were going to come, didn’t and I would still have had to pay Andy the same amount of money.  Lesson learnt there…

The forage I organised was inspired by a course I was doing.  Ever eagle-eyed, I managed to find myself a six month long foraging course – paid for Sussex as part of their green week outreach activities.  When I say six months, it was one day every month – but it was designed like this so that we could return to the same spots and observe them at different times of the year.  This course was so interesting that I think it deserves a post in itself.  Here are some of the participants checking out a small area of grass and wild flowers.  You could literally spend hours looking at even such a small piece of turf.  It was a lesson in pure observation…

NB: The title of this post is stolen from a 1503 painting by Albrecht Durer.  He was someone who knew how to observe.



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