Hedgerow Heaven at Stirley Sunday – 5th July 2015

Stirley mini hedgerowStirley Sunday
Sunday 5th July 2015

from 10am to 1pm
Stirley Community Farm, off Hall Bower Lane, Huddersfield, HD4 6RP

Stirley Farm will be hosting ‘Hedgerow Heaven’ to celebrate wildlife and wild food in the hedgerows on our 240 acre farm. Take the kids on a hedgerow safari, make a mini hedgerow to take home, harvest elderflowers for cordial and enjoy home grown produce from the garden. We’ve a good weather forecast and the heady scent from the elderflowers isn’t to be missed!

Free entry. Small charge for activities and lunch.

Organised by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Stirley Farm Kids’ Club: Bees, Blossom and Birds

woodland landscape at Upper Park Wood

Photo: Nabil Abbas for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Stirley Farm Kids’ Club:
Bees, Blossom and Birds
Wednesday 29th May 2013
from 10am to 12 noon

As spring turns to summer we will walk to Local Nature Reserve Upper Park Wood to discover the abundance of wildlife that lives there. There’ll be a chance to forage for flowers in the hedgerow and make a refreshing summer drink. Meet at Stirley Farm.

Free event. Booking essential. Contact: 01904 659570.

Organised by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Fruit wanted – can you help us to find some?

Our accidental jam factory is open again. We have lots of lovely jam jars lined up waiting to fill, so all we need now is something to put in them. We have a few things on the go ourselves, but we can always make use of extra fruit or vegetables.

Last year you gave us your surplus raspberries, loganberries, crab apples, gooseberries, plums and marrows – and we made jam out of all of them. Can any of you help us again this year?

Please let us know if you have any surplus fruit or veg that you’d be willing to share with Growing Newsome, or if you can recommend a good spot for foraging.

We’ll be looking for ingredients between now and October, so whenever you spot something going spare please let us know. We can come and collect things from you if you need us to.

We can make use of any fresh local produce at our many events this autumn – not just to make jam, but for savoury things and for sharing too.

We’ll also share the recipes so that everyone else can give it a go. Anything considered!

Please get in touch here if you can help, or email growingnewsome@gmail.com

Wild Food Wombling


A few of our allotmenteers took a gentle walk on the wild side last week. On Tuesday 17th April we joined Chris and Rose Bax from Taste the Wild at their woodland in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire. We had the great pleasure of spending the day taking part in one of their wild food foraging courses. We were excited to see what we could find.

It was a miserable-looking day when we set off from Huddersfield. We arrived in North Yorkshire slightly soggy to find Chris standing tall at the entrance to the woodland, being his own landmark. And the sun came out. So we found ourselves suddenly in a sunny, peaceful woodland full of Rose’s wonderful wood carvings and the sound of birds in the trees. Every Tuesday should be like that.

Throughout the day, Chris and Rose showed us lots of plants that are easy to find and easy to use, from thistle stems to delicate wood sorrel (both to be handled with care, although only one of them fights back). We also found out what the law says about foraging. Along public rights of way, you can forage without a problem, so long as it’s for your own use.

Theft Act 1968 Section 4(3) states that:
A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purpose. For purposes of this subsection “mushroom” includes any fungus, and “plant” includes any shrub or tree.

What you shouldn’t do is dig up roots without the permission of the landowner, or deprive the owner of the whole plant by taking all the foliage. You should also pick from several different trees or shrubs if possible – and remember to leave some for the birds.

Foraging is getting quite popular (you might have noticed more funny ingredients popping up on the Great British Menu this year) and Chris thinks that there might be a backlash at some point from people who are worried about the countryside being plundered. But foraging is very much about getting to know, understand and respect the natural environment.

Chris Bax showing us wood sorrel Many plants have only a very short time of bounty. You need to be watchful, to know the right time for harvesting, so that you can use and preserve as much of this bounty as you can. Chris told us about the first smell of the elder blossom each year and his expectation of it. For him, this is what’s magical about foraging.

Chris said that there seems to be a trend towards enjoying the countryside at breakneck speed – people want to ride through it, or run through it, or drive through it. He told us about the importance of just stopping to look at what’s there. Foraging is all about observation.

You need to know the land, to experience it, using all your senses.

We learnt about the sad affliction of ‘forager’s anxiety’, caused by people wanting to find something so much that they take leave of their senses (or rather, they forget them). Chris told us not to rely only on our eyes, because when you really want to see something, your mind can start to see what isn’t there. This causes people to identify plants incorrectly, sometimes with painful consequences.

However, forager’s anxiety is soon avoided by just stopping and thinking about it. We learnt about the importance of smell – fir smells like a citrus fruit, and if a plant doesn’t smell of garlic then it won’t be wild garlic (even if it looks like it). Places are also important. A plant that looks right but which is in completely the wrong habitat is very unlikely to be the thing that your eyes might think it is, because habitat influences what type of plants will grow.

Timing is important too. Wherever a plant is directing its energy at any given time of the year is also where the goodness is. Burdock has a two year life cycle. When it is sending up flowers to create new seeds, the plant will be using all its energy to do that, so the parsnip-like roots will no longer be good to eat.

At the end of the afternoon, we gathered a basket-full of greens to make a snack with.

Platter of foraged greensOur feast included nettles, thistles, jelly ears (a type of mushroom), goosegrass (also known as stickywilly or cleavers), reed  mace and rose bay willow herb. Perhaps that might not sound too appetising, but we made some delicious Tibetan momos together and Chris fried the willow herb in butter and oil, which was another tasty revelation.

When I told Andy that I was going on this course, he described it as ‘nutritious wombling’. I’ve since discovered that the term wombling is used in statistics (thanks to statistician William H. Womble). It describes techniques for ‘identifying zones of rapid change, typically in some quantity as it varies across some geographical or Euclidean space.’ This made me think about the pace of change that some of our edible wild plants have, and how people will miss out on this fleeting bounty if they’re busy hurtling through the countryside at a rate of knots.

But the ‘real’ wombling is of course done by those little pointy-nosed creatures who potter about in green spaces and make good use of the things that they find. The Womble motto is: “Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish.” I think that cooking rose bay willow herb, scourge of our allotment boundaries, fits that description very well.

Photos of our wild food foraging day
Wild plant identification sheets (pdf)
Tibetan momos recipe

Help us to find some fruit

If you’ve been wondering what we’re going to do with all those jam jars that you’ve been kindly donating, it will probably come as no surprise to you that now we’re on the hunt for some fruit.

We’re opening our ‘jam factory’ soon. It’s not really a factory of course, but we’re encouraging everyone to make jams and chutneys with locally grown fruit and vegetables – and we intend to do our bit.

We hope you’ll see us out and about at community events for the rest of the year with those jam jars filled with local produce and local enthusiasm.

But first, we’ll be needing some ingredients…

Please let us know if you have any surplus fruit that you’d be willing to share with Growing Newsome, or if you can recommend a good spot for us to go foraging. We’ll be looking for ingredients between July and October, so whenever you spot something going spare please let us know.

We want to start making better use of Newsome’s bounty, so please help us to make sure that no locally grown food goes to waste.

Please get in touch if you can help.

You can contact us using this site, or email Diane: sims31@btinternet.com

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