Wild Foods of London parks and green spaces

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About this experience
18 and over
Group size: 8 - 15

Please note the exact meeting point for the NOV course will only be available after 25th Oct. The map reference is currently just a rough location.

We are always forgetting this world

though each day it kisses us

with its lavish steaming breath

though the earth drums in our ears

though the flowers turn as we walk by

amazed at our forgetfulness (Daverick Leggett)

Drawing on a 30-year wealth of experiential knowledge, wild food expert Fergus Drennan will take you on a foraging journey that reveals the secret potential in even the most familiar of wild plants, the very plants you walk by every day. The humble bramble or blackberry will be revealed to be, on the contrary, a majestic beast of endless possibilities, native trees will be enticed to deliver up the sweetly nuanced complexity of molasses without a sugar cane plant in sight, and in one unexpected bite of crunchy and savoury abundance, you will experience the genuinely unique opportunity to eat 150 different wild greens all at once.

Fergus is offering a series of 3.5-hour in-depth wild food walks, each in a different London park, on the first Sunday of each month, starting in September and running through the year.

On these wild food walks of London parks and green spaces, participants will be provided with clear information on the foraging basics, while simultaneously looking deeply into the skills required to get the maximum benefit from wild plants. This includes precise tips and guidance for working with the 20-30 specific plants and fungi encountered on location, as well as detailed instruction regarding processes and techniques, for example, salt pickling, vinegar pickling, lacto-fermenting, cordial making, wine and spirit making, dehydrating, fruit leather creation, seasonings, and other preserving and food preparation techniques. In many instances those techniques will be brought to life by tasting the fruits of such labour.

On each fun, informative, and engaging course, expect to taste 10-15 different wild food creations, including my soon to be world famous 150-different-plants-all-at-once biscuits! Most tasters suitable for vegan, gluten free, and nut free diets.

A full list of plants/fungi by both common and botanical name will be given to each participant. In addition, for each location a 30+ page e-booklet can be purchased. This includes multiple photographs of each plant on the free list, a detailed recipe for each plant, as well as herbal usage, and the best ways to prepare and / or store the plant.

The first course will be in Belair Park, SE21 (Dulwich) on 1 September, and the second also Belair Park 6 October. The location will change on this site the day after each course, to reflect the coming month. However, I do reserve the right to change the park on a specific date. Intended locations for the coming months:

November: Wimbledon Common
December:
January: Hampstead Heath
February: Hyde Park
March: Battersea Park
April: Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park
May: Crystal Palace Park
June: Victoria Park
July: Regent's Park
August: St James' Park

Please note that in order to respectfully comply with park bylaws we will not be gathering or picking any plants or fungi. Many can simply be touched, smelt, and important visual characteristics observed where they are, in situ. Where tasting of the raw plant provides interesting information, I will provide fresh samples from elsewhere to make sure you don't miss out!

About your mentor

Foraging is a life-long learning process, and Fergus has been at it for 30 years. Not only does he have great depths of knowledge in all the key aspects of identification, processing, use and best sustainable practice, but he combines it with a fun and engaging manner that brings the craft to life and makes it accessible to all. He has been described by his foraging instructor peers as "the Starship Enterprise of foraging". Forager Mark Williams enthused: "We need gastronauts like Star Fleet Commander Drennan to chart new worlds..." His favourite was when he was described as "Heston Blumenthal, Rene Redzepi, and Pascal Bauder, rolled into one.”
He is inspired to offer this string of courses because there is often the misconception that, in order to really get to know wild plants, you need to visit wild places, or at least the countryside. Certainly that is good to do, but it doesn't fully appreciate the incredible biodiversity to be found in cities, and London parks and green spaces in particular. Here biodiversity simply means a unique wealth of plants. Many will be generally wild, others more feral or ornamental, yet from a foraging perspective, whatever their pedigree, they offer unique learning experiences. And, wild food knowledge is usually best developed near to where you live, and in places it is convenient to visit regularly throughout the year.

Strengths you may develop

Learning aims
To be able to appeciate the wealth of wild food abundunce that surrounds us.
Develop a clear understanding of how to gather seasonally and sustainably for both food and medicine.
Learn key wild food preservation and processing techniques.
Discover that although the aim here is to render invisible food visible, sometimes it is the journey that is more important than the destination.
Experience the added learning that comes from a multi-sensory approach to wild foods, through touch, taste, smell, sight, and indeed listening.
I’ll provide

Snacks

Equipment

Safety

Basic DBS  Basic DBS

Enhanced DBS  Enhanced DBS

Risk Assessment  Risk Assessment

Public Liability Insurance  Public Liability Insurance

Smoke detector  Smoke detector

First aid training  First aid training

First aid kit  First aid kit

Safeguarding training  Safeguarding training

Please note it is the responsibility of the booker to satisfy themselves about the adequacy of the safety measures. This platform is merely an introducer and does not verify the items listed here.

Cancellations

My experience consists of a leisure activity, on a specific date(s), and therefore the 14-day ‘cooling off period’ under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 does not apply.

  • No refunds will be given for individual sessions missed or cancelled during the experience.

Cancellation process

Although, of course, valid and often unexpected occurrences do arise that lead to non-attendance, I'm increasingly finding that when there is no refund nearly 100% attendees show up, but with a refund, often people don't attend. No refund helps focus intention to attend!

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Your Mentor
Fergus

Fergus

Wild food experimentalist, course faciliator, forager, the ever-curious Fergus Drennan, aka Fergus The Forager, has been gathering and learning about wild plants, seaweeds, and fungi for over 40 years, beginning on Wimbledon Common, aged 3 years, collecting dandelions for the family’s pet tortoise. Since those early days, and through much creative and experimental exploration he has continued his foraging practice, not only as a means to understand and to discover the practical relevance that foraging has in the modern developed world, but also in terms of what it means to be an environmentally conscious human in relation to the natural world. “Can foraging ever be considered a truly sustainable practice, and if so how?”, is a question that always orchestrates his foraging activity, as does a pursuit of foraging’s playful and creative possibilities, whether they be found in novel recipes using plants, fungi, and seaweeds, or unlocking the possibilities that wild botanicals offer for other non-food-based creative pursuits. That includes, among other things, the making of baskets, mushroom paper, and natural dyes and pigments. Fergus has a huge amount of wild food knowledge to share, and an array of imaginative ways of doing so. After even only an afternoon with him, the natural world around you will never look the same again.