India Langley from The Community Farm, gives us her tips on foraging in the springtime:
Spring is still battling to get through on our little corner of paradise where Valley Fest is held. However, while it may not be immediately obvious, if you pay close attention, the signs are everywhere and spring is coming to life. Daffodils are dancing the wind, birds are singing the dawn chorus and the scent of wild garlic is filling our nostrils. While this is very active time for nature – everything is gearing up ready for summer’s warmth – the next two months are the least productive in the UK farming calendar.
The hungry gap
From March to May, UK farmers have very little to offer. This is called, the ‘hungry gap’. The onset of warmer weather brings fresh winter veg to an end, supplies of stored crops are beginning to dwindle, and the carnival of summer veg isn’t yet ready to harvest.
Food gone wild
The ‘hungry gap’ doesn’t affect wild food in the same way. This time of year is fantastic for foraging. You can find aromatic ground elder, alexanders and wild chervil to make into tasty soups stocks and salads. Wild garlic is in full swing and perfect for pestos. The best of all may come as a shock to you, stinging nettles are at their greatest over the coming month. But fear not, they lose their sting when cooked or added to boiling water. Simply sautée with a little nutmeg and they’ll be tender and delicious. As a herbal infusion, nettles can also be used to minimise the symptoms of hay fever. And they’re packed full of goodness, including iron and minerals too.
Foraging on the Festival Field
The Community Farm, where the magic of Valley Fest happens, holds regular foraging walks with Martin Bailey. This spring Martin is teaming up with Earthwise for a Family Forage and Feast, on Saturday 21 April: A great opportunity to get kids picking and cooking from the wild (under supervision)! Plus, we will be running foraging workshops at the Valley Fest in August as well, where there will be lots more to discover as the summer bursts full of nature’s bounties.