the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 20 – Urban Foraging Cocktail workshop…

Ever wondered what edible things you walk past each day in Brighton and Hove? Not sure how to spot them or what to do with them? Well, for another of post free gift options in our Eco Gift Guide, we are shamelessly plugging one of our own events, but it will be a cracker! Join us for an introduction to foraging and a few top tips of where to find useful things, culminating in a HUGELY popular foraged cocktail making session using flavours gathered from the city of Brighton itself…

This special event led by Claire Potter (claire potter design) is part of the immersive experience at Patterns Bar, Brighton. Step through a transformed mystical entrance, and discover an enchanted forest filled with nostalgic treats and immersive visual feasts inspired by Britain’s woodlands and the wild outdoors in Winter.

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The ground floor bar will be transformed into a winter wonderland reminiscent of scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia, brought to life by a multi-level digitally projected and interlinked forest, complete with softly falling snowflakes, inquisitive wild animals and scents of the forest air. Inside, you’ll find festive treats such a boozy hot chocolate menu and Hot Buttered Rum to enjoy as you watch a flock of birds fly around the room or a snow fox dart in front of you. Imagine watching the sunset from a discarded Chesterfield in Narnia with a warming cocktail in hand, dancing amongst the swirling snow in the glow of a Victorian lamppost and you will be half way to Woodlandia.

 

Claire will be leading a talk and discussion around urban foraging, but the best bit is that there will be a foraged cocktail workshop in the second half of the workshop – hands on making and sampling too!

Plus, as it is in February, the post Christmas and New Year detox will be over. The lovely cocktails we will be making use the very best of the new sprouts and shoots of the season, and as local as you can probably ever get…

Tickets on sale now – £15 per person on our Eventbrite page

(images via claire potter and woodlandia)

*** EVENT *** our next Urban Foraging Walk in Brighton is up…

cherry plum foragingFancy a bit of guided foraging in Brighton? join us on our next Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on Sunday 6th September – check out our Eventbrite page for more details here…

Monday Musings – foraging – taking advantage or taking your share?

Today on Monday Musings we have a very apt discussion to wade into – foraging. Yesterday we ran one of our popular Urban Foraging walks in Brighton, leading a small group through a couple of parks and streets of the city. We pointed out what is edible, abundant, how you can use it and the folklore and traditions that surround the things we walk past every day. But one discussion that we had, was not how we should forage, but whether we should at all.

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This had arisen with the recent discussion – and argument in the Daily Mail – that foragers are stripping the New Forest bare of mushrooms. John Wright, the foraging expert linked with River Cottage (and one of our heroes) came under fire, as his paid foraging courses were blamed for the sparseness of mushrooms in the area. This accusation was quickly rubbished by Wright and River Cottage, who stated that not only do they operate within the law, but that they collect a tiny fraction of the mushrooms discovered on a walk – taking only one basket of edible mushrooms and one basket of ‘interesting’ mushrooms between the whole group. No mushroom is picked twice, and only Wright picks the mushrooms. And of course, only with permission of the landowner.applesPlus, the mushroom is only the reproductive organ of the living organism below ground, so saying that picking mushrooms is harmful, is quite honestly, rubbish. Where the argument against over picking stands is when the forest is laid bare of mushrooms – not perhaps from a conservation point of view, but it is indeed a sad sight.

So this is an interesting argument. With the increasing interest in foraging taking hold, how can we ensure that us, who teach the skill, are being responsible? 

Frankly, I believe that the people I teach to forage – those who want to reconnect with the seasons and their landscape (with respect) and supplement their weekly shop and autumn larders with nutritious and plentiful goodies are not the problem. Like Wright, I only point out items that are so common we would have to all locally down tools and pick for a week to make any kind of dent in the harvest. Hawthorns? Japanese Roses? Nettles? Do me a favour. hawthorn

We never pick items that are rare, or unusual, and if we do discover something, we look and learn.

My personal bugbear with foraging does not sit with people (like me) who run paid for foraging courses, or write books or blogs on the subject. It does not sit with people who post their foraging forays on twitter, facebook and instagram. It certainly does not sit with the individual who picks a kilo of apples on a piece of waste ground. My bugbear sits with those few unscrupulous ‘commercial foragers’ who flaunt the 50 shades of grey areas of the law – picking wherever they can, in large quantities for resale to restaurants and gastropubs. Whenever I see ‘locally foraged’ on a menu I ask questions. Where, who, when? With permission?

Foraging is about being respectful. And the vast majority of us are just that. We respect our local areas, we respect the local biodiversity and we respect the knowledge that has been gathered over generations that we risk losing forever in the eternal glow of the supermarkets.

So will I stop foraging, or teaching people how to forage? Not on your nelly. Knowledge is power and respect comes from education, not ignorance.

our latest Urban Foraging Walk is now live!

We have been pretty busy on the foraging front this year – mostly running foraging walks for other lovely people in the city, but we have had so many people ask us whether we are running any more, we are!

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Up now are full details of our Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on 2nd August… Ever wondered what you walk past each day which you could add into to your daily diet? Ever wondered what this whole urban foraging thing is about, where it has come from and what you can actually do with that random looking leaf? Well, during our 2 hour intro walk, we will help guide you through the laws and pitfalls of foraging and help you identify up to 20 things that are abundant and actually rather delicious in the city. Finishing off with a little drink at the end, this introductory foraging walk through the parks and streets of Brighton will give you a taster of what you are missing…

The walk is £10 per person (with kids free) and you can book through our Eventbrite page…

We look forward to seeing you!

(image by claire potter)