We will show you our plantations and systems and discuss how they can be transposed into your situation. The emphasis of this day will be on the practicalities. Over the day we will cover site selection, suitable willow varieties, planting, pest control, harvesting, storage and types of stove. 10.30am – 4.30pm Saturday 3rd February, £60. The Willowbank, Ragmans Lane Farm, Lower Lydbrook, GL17 9PA.
Situated on the east side of the Forest of Dean, Ruardean Hill is the ideal location for learning to identify woodland birds by sight and sound. Ed Drewitt will help you learn the basics of woodland bird ID through a range of activities both in the classroom and in the nearby woodland habitat. This course will cost £60 and includes all teaching and materials, as well as tea and coffee. Please bring a packed lunch. 10am – 4pm, 9th April or 21st May. Ruardean Hill Baptist Church, Baptist Way, Ruardean Hill, GL17 9AR.
To book your place contact Anne Cotton on 01786 466 570, email email@example.com, website www.bto.org/news-events/training/training-programme
SUPYOGA comes to the Forest of Dean. Come and try Stand Up Paddleboard – 1 hour, £15 plus free try. contact Di for dates and loval venues. Spaces limited, early booking recommended.
Contact Di at Way2Go Adventures on 07779 4189841, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.way2goadventures.co.uk/trips-and-activities/stand-up-paddleboarding-sup-on-the-wye/
Forest of Dean Walking for Health offers free regular easy walks throughout the Forest in: Blakeney, Bream, Cinderford, Coleford, Drybrook, Hartpury, Heywood, Huntley, Lydney, Mitcheldean, Newent, Parkend, Sedbury, St Briavels, Staunton, Yorkley. Suitable for all abilities, walking from 10 minutes up to 1 hour with refreshments at the end. Free, with the bonus of some refreshments too! Happening all year round, with 16 starting points throughout the Forest of Dean.
Weave stunning plant supports and pea frames for your climbers. 9.45am-4pm, Saturday 3rd March, £105. Courses book up quickly so book now. Humble by Nature, Upper Meend Farm, Penallt, Nr Monmouth, NP25 4RP. For more details or to book your place, telephone 01600 714595, email email@example.com, website www.humblebynature.com
Learn the ancient art of hedge-laying on this hands-on day with prize hedge-layer Farmer Tim. 9.45am-4.30pm, Saturday 27th January, £105. Courses book up quickly so book now. Humble by Nature, Upper Meend Farm, Penallt, Nr Monmouth, NP25 4RP. For more details or to book your place, telephone 01600 714595, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.humblebynature.com
We will work together as a group, collaging, ideas, walking in the forest with sketch books, then working on glass collaboratively and on our own pieces. We can paint, stain, engrave, cut, enamel and lead the glass. Come and find out what happens. All welcome, beginners and more experienced. £150 (concessions £120), 9.30 am – 4.30 pm, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April. Cherry Tree Cottage, Corner Road, Pillowell, Lydney, GL154QU.
Forest of Dean Walking for Health offers free regular easy walks throughout the Forest in: Blakeney, Bream, Cinderford, Coleford, Drybrook, Hartpury, Heywood, Huntley, Lydney, Mitcheldean, Newent, Parkend, Sedbury, St Briavels, Staunton and Yorkley. Suitable for all abilities, walking from 10 minutes up to 1 hour with refreshments at the end. Free 1 hour plus refreshments. Runs throughout the year. 16 starting points throughout the Forest of Dean. Contact Barbara Woods on 01594 727014 email@example.com, website www.walkingforhealth.org.uk
Foraging is a bit like surfing!
Ok, so I am not having to bunk off work at a moments notice. Then drive 4 hours to the coast, mid week to catch some awesome Atlantic swell!!
But, I can walk for miles in the woods and fields trying to find a certain ingredient without luck. Or wait for weeks for a good period of rain to bring up the mushrooms… Foraging, like surfing can take a whole load of commitment and waiting.
Some things however are much less trouble to get your hands on.
The mighty Chestnut is one such prize and as the October winds start to blow through, they will be dropping from the trees in their millions.
Originating in Greece and brought to our shores by the Romans, this tasty treat is identifiable by its green hedgehog jacket with many more spikes than the inedible Horse Chestnut (conker). Unlike most nuts, chestnuts are high in carbohydrate rather than protein but contain no gluten making their flour a great option for a gluten free diet.
Finding these beauties is not hard. Find a Sweet Chestnut tree, battle with squirrels, pick up nuts, take home. Easy! At home things need a little more work. Put the nuts (free of their jackets) in a bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes. This will soften the skins and make peeling a little easier.
Once peeled they are ready to use. My favorite Chestnut recipe is below. It’s a wonderful seasonal soup using the first of the seasons parsnips, our nuts and a bottle of “Over the hill” Dark mild from the Hillside Brewery.
Parsnip, chestnut and ale soup.
- 100 g butter
- 600 g parsnips, peeled and chopped smallish
- 1 small leek, trimmed and chopped
- 2 sticks of celery
- 175m “over the hill” ale or maybe “old speckled hen”
- 200 g peeled chestnuts
- 1.5 l vegetable or chicken stock
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 300ml double cream
- Melt half of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the parsnips, leeks, celery and tyme, cook gently without colouring until the parsnips are soft.
- Add the ale and chestnuts simmer/reduce gently for a further 10 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Remove any thyme stalks and either using a stick blender blend the soup until smooth. Pass the soup through a fine sieve and set aside.
- When ready to serve, heat the soup gently, but DO NOT allow to boil. Pour into bowls and garnish with a swirl of cream, black pepper and thyme.
Mobile: 07954583784, website www.infamouscatering.co.uk
Facebook Infamous Catering
A chance to make your own Felt Green man planter to fill with your favorite herbs or flowers for the summer. 10am-4pm, Saturday 28th April, £65 including lunch and materials. The Studio, Kent Cottage, New Road, Blakeney Hill, Blakeney, GL15 4BS.
Way2go Adventures offer a range of fun outdoor activities including Canoeing, Kayaking, gorge walking, Stand up Paddleboard, SUPYOGA and teambuilding. From half to full days, and canoe & campouts for 2 days or more. Multi activity days. Let us tailor a package to suit your requirements. Acticities start from £25 per person.
Sky grey, dark grey, lighter grey… “What the heck, we’re off!”
The strong south westerly tries its best to pull me from the slippery rungs as I descend. Bare footed I step from the ladder into cold grey slightly funky mud. Like icy worms it slips between my toes as I sink just a little and the rain that has been threatening all day decides now to come at me, sideways.
Paddling across the last of the retreating water, my little man Ed and I are off to the salt marsh, freshly exposed by the receding tide, for a spot of seaside foraging.
As a committed/committable foodie and lover of wild delicacies, the opportunity to indulge in one of my favourite coastal ingredients is too good to miss, come hell or high water!
Marsh samphire is very ‘on trend’ and a surprisingly versatile food. Less bitter than rock samphire, which is sometimes seen for sale, it has a very short season from late June to early August. After that it starts to get a stringy core and later, it’s plain woody. You will find it in salt marsh in and around estuaries this summer on your holidays across the UK. Essential kit for foraging are some scissors and a bag, simple.
When harvesting, you are looking for small young plants of around 2 to 4 inches, hold the tips and snipoff the tender tops. When I say tender, we are looking for the fresh green, almost gelatinous centred young shoots, a segment before it starts to yellow (think of the tiny offspring of aloe vera and asparagus). If it pulls apart with no woody fibre or string, you’re good.
Back in the kitchen or camp there is much more to this super nutritious free sea veggie than just steaming it with a bit of fish!
Raw it’s like salty cucumber – a great addition to summer salads; thrown in at the last moment it will liven up a stir fry; peel and simmer garlic cloves for 20 min, then roughly chop and pan fry in butter and rapeseed oil until golden, chuck in the samphire with some black pepper for another minute and serve with lamb or chicken, or bung it in a pasta dish… Get creative! This is a great wild food that you can easily identify come rain or shine, and it’s free free free!
Me? I put it on a pizza instead of olives. Lazy, but sooo good; I picked, it so I can do what I like. As can you!
Happy Summer Holidays.
Come and make either a vessel for decorative use, or a planter for your garden. Choose either free standing or hanging style, which can be planted up for the summer. £65 includes lunch, snacks and materials. 10am – 4pmm Saturday 24th March. £65 including lunch and materials. The Studio, Kent Cottage, New Road, Blakeney Hill, Blakeney, GL15 4BS.
Ow bist forest friends, and thank you to the Forest Bee for inviting me to write this monthly submission about foraging in the Forest of Dean. Each month I will feature a few of the wild ingredients available in our woods, with recipes and preserving tips you may try for yourself.
I would not call myself a foraging expert but rather an enthusiast and a cook. I was born five thousand miles west of here and have spent most of my life living in cities. Six years ago I didn’t know my damson from my ramson. The first time I saw a spindle berry they sure looked delicious, but I had much to learn.
My dear husband is a proper forester with ancestral connections to the Forest of Dean that go back many generations. When we relocated from California the flora and fauna became my first attachment to this new place. Our children propelled us along as way, their curiosity always one step ahead. And there is a new member of the family now, born within the Hundred’s of St. Briavels like his dad. It is his birthright to eat and play in these woods too. With time to spare, identification books in our pockets, and a wave to ancient traditions as we head out with our baskets.
In order to both feed and support my family, I have become familiar with and practiced upscaling these wild ingredients, confidently delivering bowls of nettle soup to my own kids, (it’s their favorite), then skeptical Londoners, wild mushroom pie and local game and sorrel stew to punks at a music festival, even wildflower salads and dandelion bread to locals on the lawns of the Speech House. The dishes were all emptied, surely due to the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Now I am pleased to present these recipes to you. May they nourish you they way they were intended to.
For this month of March I will focus on my two favorite spring greens that are abundant now, easily identifiable and commonly recognized.
And so we begin with the humble nettle, one of the first foods to emerge after a long winter and easily identifiable. The protein packed nettle has a delicate earthy flavor when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese and calcium. Pick then now and for the next couple of months. Use scissors cut the stem beneath the top four leaves for soup, winning recipe included. We look forward to the first bowl every spring.
Please note that this is my choice combination, and that you can add to or take away ingredients from this list according to your own taste as long as the amount of veg you add equals the amount of stingers. Serves two.
Chop one onion, one leek, one carrot, one stalk of celery, one tablespoon of crushed garlic, and one tablespoon of fresh herbs, and add to one cup of water in a tall pot. Cook at medium heat for five minutes.
Add one large basket of fresh nettle leaves, washed and still wet. Add one more cup of water and cook another twenty minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let sit for five minutes off the heat and blend until smooth.
If you are vegan, pour into a bowl, add a pinch of nutritional yeast, and enjoy.
If you want a creamy soup, briskly whisk in a béchamel sauce after blending, and/or sprinkle a finely grated hard cheese. I’ve heard of people adding chopped fried bacon for garnish, which must be nice, too.
Hairy bittercress, a wonderful looking plant and even better cut and added to your salad leaves. It is rich in Vitamins A and C and contains calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. As a bitter green it also benefits our digestive system. Under the right conditions hairy bittercress will be available for the rest of this calendar year, so now is the perfect time to add this plant to your foraging repertoire.
I would like to give a nod to all the preserves that have brought my family thru through the winter. Last autumn I created a sourdough starter with grapes growing at my mother in laws house and hedgerow fruit, the white yeasty film on the skins producing a bioregional taste I am so happy with. There are still jars of damson, rose hip and crap apple jelly in the pantry, dandelion syrup for our pancakes and sloe gin for rainy days, as well as dried linden, self heal and clover for tea. I use a tablespoon of intense mushroom brine made of sliced parasol, puffball, scarlet elf cap and jelly ears preserved in sea salt every time I make soup. It adds a depth of flavor that Oxo cubes never will. And as I finish writing this from a fishing dock at Steam Mills Lake, I treat myself to a sandwich of pickled Oyster mushrooms, marinating since early January. Delicious!
Pickled Mushrooms Recipe
Boil one cup of organic wine vinegar with one tsp salt, one tsp sugar and a few whole cloves. Add two bay leaves, one sliced onion and about three cups of clean fresh wild mushrooms. Slowly simmer for five minutes.
Spoon mushrooms and onions into clean, sterilized jar and gently pour over the liquid. Seal with lid and let marinate somewhere cool for one month and up to six.
Serve as an antipasto or with crusty bread.
For more about our new Foragers, visit their website at www.foodforesters.com
Agriculture is changing. A new brand of modern agriculture using Agroecology as it’s guiding principle is gaining traction.
Regenerative Agriculture led by Jairo Restrepo, will give you the practical tools needed to analyse soils and create fertile systems using home made biofertilisers and minimal-cost pest and disease control methods. 6 day resitential starting 9.00am starting Thursday 28th June, £600 (early bird £500) Ragmans Lane Farm, Lower Lydbrook, GL17 9PA.
This is a pilgrimage in association with the Gatekeeper Trust’s Wheel of Life Project. The Forest falls within the Pisces segment of the British zodiac and we will walk a route to honour the land. Scheduled for the Pisces New Moon on Saturday 17th March. £10 voluntary contribution. Start point to be confirmed.
The U3A is an excellent way of making new friends and gaining new skills and interests for the over 50s. Meetings with Speakers are on 3rd Thursday of the month at Lydney Town Hall at 1.45 pm. Lots of lively activity groups for members – Kurling, Ukelele, Art & Craft, French, Poetry, Knitting, Painting, Walking, Card games, Petanque, Lunch Club, Cycling, Book Club, Skittles, Heritage Detectives, Tea room appreciation, and more… What’s not to like?
Join us on the 3rd Thursday or visit u3asites.org.uk/forest-of-dean/home or ring us on 01594 832599.