A fortnight ago we where out in the wilds picking our fill of foraged food and this week we have been out again seeking out the promised bounty in the hedgerows.
This is the first year that Little D has really got why we forage. Last year he enjoyed the walk but he didn't really enjoy the lesson of take what you need rather than what you want. He thought the year was 1943 and was busy being a plane.
There is still the promise of filberts but they have yet to arrive but we found some bulice and Little D dug in: one for the basket, one for me. He actually borrowed Andrew's crook to shake a tree to try and catch what fell, it was a cacophony of giggles and soft thudding fruit. We tried to show him not to pick fruit that was too hard, fruit that was split but he was too busy enjoying himself and eating what he caught. We have taught him to only eat what he shows us first. He has learnt quickly to ask and even today pointed out berries that he knew were poisonous from our last trip. Kids learn quick, so teach them.
We all got some odd looks from a takeaway van that slowed down on the road to spy on what we were doing. He was either a fellow forager or felt his livelihood was being threatened. People can easily be threatened by foraging, foraging is not illegal in the UK on any land but if you are deemed to be trespassing then it can become a civil case. So, forage your socks off and apologise if the land owner comes along; nine times out of ten they don't care or will ask you to drop a bag of foraged plums off at their house on the way back. Some people though are incredibly threatened that you are getting something for free and you know what to pick, and they don't. It is a form of jealousy that boils down to them having to go to supermarket while they think you are slacking off. Foraging is never slacking off, we have the scratches, the sweat patches and the muscles to prove it. Foraging means a lot of walking, a lot of looking and a lot of getting to know the land you live on. Never confuse foraging with scrumping, the latter is theft and those doing it, know it.
There is no greater joy than watching a child who it utterly proud of what he has found. Little D's motto at the end of the day was: tell no one where the hedges are. He gave some bulice to our neighbours but added each time: I won't tell you where we got them, so don't ask. He learns quickly to protect what he loves; if a little abruptly.The foraging of fruit is a happy thing that should be shared and when his back was turned we did tell them but we doubt they will strip the hedgerows, the fruit this year isn't just abundant, it is a flood. Unlike gardening, foraging with kids never leads to them standing on a cabbage or falling on a seedling, it's all the harvest fun without the sowing or planting, and that is great for kids....and adults.
Get out foraging, we will be doing more, there are apple trees out there that will be left to rot and we have spied some garden escapees on the verges. Once you start looking for fruit to forage, you'll find it everywhere and the great thing about it is that age isn't a problem, young or old, you can do a spot of foraging.