‘it seems to me that we look at nature too much and live with her too little’

FORRAGING_048‘It seems to me that we look at nature too much and live too little with her’ I’ve just heard this Oscar Wilde quote on radio 4. His words set my hairs on edge. Was Oscar a forager? I’m not sure and to be honest I’m such an uncultured type I don’t even know what it connection to the wilds was (apart from lying on grass with a cigarette in his beautiful mouth) but he put his refined finger right on the button in this statement & in a way that’s utterly apt 130 years later. Lots of people in our country have nature disconnect – that’s a fact. Lots of us try and reconnect with nature by looking at her – we go for woodland walks, climb mountains, gaze at the stars but not many of us live with her. Our culture has become so distant from the notion that we belong to nature: in fact, since even before the days when  Oscar lay on grassy fields, we believed that nature belonged to us. We look on at nature with a distance gaze –  we have a relationship with nature by treating it as the ultimate commodity, controlling & often destroying it – even people who want to preserve nature often feel humans have such a negative impact on nature that we should leave her well alone & look on at the natural world as a precious place apart from human intervention.

Obviously preserving nature is far more preferable to destroying & poisoning it, but it can miss the point that Oscar made so beautifully. We should live with her – but we should really take that statement further – we are nature; we’re a part of her. To live life as part of nature we need to go further than going on a walk, building reserves, putting up fences, being fearful of ‘touching’. Ever since I gathered honeysuckle in the company of fellow foragers; bees and moths, eating the food that grows freely, of its own volition , my life in nature began. Gathering and eating the wild feels like drinking from a watering pool with other animals. We’re no more entitled to this food than the bee who is suckling nectar from honeysuckle, than the hedge dwelling birds nibbling on birch buds; or than the squirrels racing us for hazelnuts, but equally we’re no less entitled to it either. Wild, gathered food nourishes us in an incomparable way & it feed our bodies with nutrient dense food, and it feeds our souls in a way that no shopping trip can. We, the human species animal needs to be reintroduced to our native environment – we need to be rewilded. Foraging is a remarkably delicious way of connecting us back to the world we live in; changes our very view of the world we see around us; when you no longer see unkempt weedy verges, but lush larders your world view shifts in a powerfully liberating way.

What would happen if we all started to forage for our suppers? How could the world cope? I sit here writing on my hill that  flanked on the left by a plain of Herefordshire farmland – I can see on a clear day miles & miles of fields growing a handful of crops – potato’s, oil seed rape, wheat, apples and hops – huge fields of monoculture; dependant on a strict cycle of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides to ensure their crops yield well, and contracts can be met so we can be fed. To my right there are hills – too rough and undulating to grow crops on; in place of oil seed rape are thick hedgerows, pasture & woodland – full of crops; natures crops – herbs (weeds) fruit & nuts enough to feast on – nature thrives here and repays her inhabitants – insect, birds and mammals with food to feed us all – the 2 views from my hill make a statement as eloquent as Oscar could make that nature really can provide when she is allowed to flourish; and we will flourish if we live in her.



Mushroom & wild food weekend with Mark Williams

mega-fungi-layout-1024x690charcol burner        markwilliams

A few months ago I was offered the chance to forage in a beautiful woodland; the owner proudly told me of the wealth of mushrooms I could gather there. My face dropped a bit. You see, I forage plants; give me a tree, i’ll turn it into a cake; a nut & I’ll make it into a liqueur; a bud I’ll make a pickle, I am in my wild element amongst stuff that photosynthesises & is full of chlorophyll, but mushrooms have always been an elusive stanger to me. What a shame, that woodland would have to go untouched.

But I shall play in the woods! my wonderfully brilliant foraging friend (and a bit of a gigantic wild food hero) Mark Williams from Galloway Wild Foods has been lured by my puddings to come down for the weekend in October & it would be wrong of me to not share him, his fungi genius & his amazingly inspiring wild booze know how with you.

Mark is one of the most respected and inspiring wild food teachers in the known universe; he also is very brilliant at teaching in a clear, safe way – if you’re a fungi novice like me this is for you; but his knowledge is so wide that if you know already your agaric’s from your boletus he’ll give you a depth of knowledge you didn’t know went so far down. Marks website is a well thumbed mine of information for foragers – take a visit & you’ll see why I’m excited to be hosting him in the Black Mountains! http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com

Mark & I are hosting what I think will be a pretty magical weekend; on Saturday we’ll be tip toeing in the woods finding the food he knows so well & we’ll all learn quite a huge amount about the mysterious mushrooms. On Sunday, we’re back on my turf & we’ll be leading a wild food / wild booze extravaganza. Cake and cocktails, and chocolate…

Tickets to this rare chance to learn from Mark are £75 for each day, but if you’d like to come on both days & have a wild (and slightly life changing) weekend then you can join us for both for £120. Never has just over a ton been so worth while.

Tickets for the Saturday & Sunday are available here: http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/product/fungi-foraging-walk-nr-abergavenny-s-wales/ (Saturday)

http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/product/autumn-harvest-foraging-walk-workshop-nr-abergavenny-s-wales/ (Sunday)

If you want to come on both days, don’t book on the site, email me at lizknight4@gmail.com to reserve your tickets (as I can apply your £30 discount)

See you in the woods!


Wild Harvest Feast 2105

The air in early September is heavy with the scent of ripe fruit, late summer flowers and ripening nuts, and this year we are going to feast on the mellow fruitfulness of this most magical season.

On 5th September we’re heading to the utterly beautiful Llanvihangel Court in Monmouthshire for our first wild harvest feast, it’s a house that wraps its arms around you and surrounded by orchards of heaving fruit we couldn’t think of a more magical location to welcome the early mist filled days of autumn. No harvest feast would be complete without music and we’ve managed to lure the supremely talented Barrule Trio to play their intoxicating brand of folk after the meal.

We’ll be eating food from rambling gardens, heaving orchards, abundant hedgerows.. from fields, mountain and woodland – come and join us for very delicious end to the summer.

Tickets are £35 per person, and include a wild cocktail on arrival, wild canapés and a 3 course meal. To reserve your tickets send us a message via the contact us page and we’ll get back in touch with payment information


      wood pigeon, fresh hazelnut, whimberry & chickweed salad with damson verjus


           sorrel, sumac & feta fried butterbean salad with rosehip & chili vinaigrette

                                     main course

         vension with pears and dauphinoise potatoes with wild thyme infused cream.


        roasted grapes & stuffed vine leaves, with hazelnut & puy lentils with grape verjus


          evening primrose posset with mulberry compote


           damson vodka & honeysuckle jelly and ice cream

Eat spring? It would be rude not to…

We love spring here at Forage. Tender new growth is full of vitality & tonic like flavour, Inside unassuming buds and tiny flowers hide powerhouses of magical flavour – this really is the time to feast. From the moment the sap started rising we’ve been preparing a wild utterly delicious feast that will celebrate everything delicious about a wild spring. On the 2nd May we are going to be serving our finds at our Wild Spring Feast.

On the menu this year we’ll be eating:  beech leaves, wood sorrel, wild boar, pine tips, rhubarb, cherry blossom , primrose flowers, ladysmock, jack by the hedge, wild garlic, hawthorn, pennywort, horseradish, bittercress, dandelion, nettle, violet flowers, primrose leaves, blackcurrant leaves, ground elder, cleavers, hogweed shoots, wild leeks and tulip petals..

wild canapés and cocktails on arrival

Trout served with rhubarb, apple, flowering currant flowers, angelica, mint and pine

Wild gazpacho served in freshly picked tulip petals

Wild boar (or griddled fresh halloumi) served with wild garlic pesto, hogweed shoots, asparagus, and charred wild leeks

blackcurrant leaf sorbet

Birch sap syrup crème caramel, primrose curd & violet cream pavlova

Tickets to the Wild Spring Feast are on sale now. £35 per person including canapés, cocktails and 3 courses. If you would like to book tickets for the event please contact us on 01873 860347 or via our contact us page.

Filming in the flowers

Last June  film makers from the BBC came and spent the day on our hill making an insert for a James Martins Home Comforts . It was well timed, the midsummer sun cast its warm glow on the billowing flowering stitchwort; earthy speedwell, honeyed clover and perfumed honeysuckle. The footpath by our house is an old drovers road and for hundreds of years people have beaten a path over the hill, breathing in the same perfumes, plucking berries from the same brambles and nibbling nuts from the same trees we now gather our finds.

After the days gathering and filming we headed to the local village hall for a wild supper to celebrate the flavours of early summer. Walterstone village hall used to be the local school, children that learnt there would’ve chewed on grass, suckled the nectar from honeysuckle and breathed in meadowsweet’s perfume while filling their stained mouths with wild strawberries plucked from the shady embankments that are etched  into the landscape around here. The flavours we use at Forage are inspired by the same tastes and smells the drovers and children from these hills experienced and loved. We are proud that our products are known for being delicious, but we are equally pleased to know that they celebrate the flavours of our very green and perfumed  lands.

We hope you enjoy this little film about Forage (It’s worth watching the whole progamme, but if you just want to see our bit, it’s 33 minutes into the programme)