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Foraging walk review (All Hands Garden Group)

On a sunny May day the Group met near Woodlands Way, West Wickham for a short walk to find edible plants under the direction of Theresa Webb, qualified Nutritional Therapist and founder of Kitchen Buddy.

Within a few steps of starting we found Wild Garlic growing in the roadside, together with Herb Robert, Dock, Narrow leaved Plantain, Dandelion, Hedge Garlic and Sanicle. A few feet further and there was Cow Parsley.

We were warned that it is important to identify carefully the ribbed stems and green colour and not confuse it with poisonous Hemlock, smooth round purple blotched stems but slightly more feathery leaves and foul smell. This really means you should not touch or eat plants you can not identify as safe. Also it is wise not to take any thing you will eat from below waist height in places where dogs walk. Remember that other animals depend on plants and never take more than two thirds of a plant and do not uproot it if not needing the root.

Roots, stem, leaves, flowers and seeds can all act differently on the body and strengths depend on time of year and day and even weather conditions.

The question came, where is it permissible to pick plants? Strictly, only where you have the landowner’s permission.

Crossing the road we found Broad leaved Plantain, Blackberry brambles , Sweet Chestnut, Oak, Stinging Nettle ( three leaves in a cup of hot water make nice tea), Bracken (ferns), Cleavers (Goosegrass), Honeysuckle, Hawthorn (Mayflower), Deadnettle – all these can be used in various ways.

In the woods we found Raspberry, Silver Birch- sap can make a drink, Yew is poisonous but the red part of the fruit is OK IF YOU DO NOT EAT THE PIP!

Wood Avens, Pendulous Sedge ( sedges have triangular stems, so does Allium triquetum which is the Three Cornered Leek; we did not find this.)

Another two plants to watch out for are Hogweed and Giant Hogweed. Both have sap that causes blisters in sunlight and although edible and sustaining the Giant is best avoided.

Rowan/Mountain Ash had green berries now but orange when ripe and make good jelly. Enchanter’s Nightshade brought some extra interest from the group who wondered how they might use it!

Wood Anemone indicated that this was very old woodland.

Small- leaved Lime was seen and we were to have this as salad at lunch.

Near the end we found Gooseberry and Currant; these may have been dumped here but both are native species. Last was Meadow Sweet, remember the scent of old fashioned pharmacies? This contains aspirin, good for headaches.

Back to Sandy’s house for a delicious light lunch made from some of the species seen, together with herb mixture condiments and pesto made by Theresa. Thank you Theresa and Sandy.

In conclusion, I must emphasize that this article should not be taken as recipes or instruction on eating or using any wild plant as it takes very much more learning to know how to get the benefit of the natural foods and medicines.

Remember that a little learning is a dangerous thing and for that reason I have excluded the many uses we were told of during the walk.

Thanks again to Theresa and Sandy.

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We love our Village volunteers

Theresa leads our Walk & Talk in Mountsfield Park on Thursdays. She is able to hold space and allow the Villagers on her walks to form bonds with each other. She also generously shares her wealth of knowledge of foraging, wild food and nutrition so the walking Villagers get to learn something too! Thank you Theresa.

“I chose to be a volunteer at the Village because I like sharing my enjoyment of the natural world with others, especially to enable new parents to leave the house and get outside for an hour of unstructured activity, in good company.

The common theme is that despite however challenging it may be in the morning getting a baby ready to leave the house, the rewards always outweigh any initial challenges.

I’ve lived in the area over 40 years and I know the park quite well. Occasionly we stop for chat in or around the community garden where herbs and vegetables grow year round. We share our top tips for health and well-being. Did you know that lettuce has a calming effect?! Try putting lettuce in a juicer and feeding a little to your baby or toddler.”

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Christmas Dinner

I’ve begun another pumpkin sketch with a blue Japanese theme pattern design in the background, inspired by the Japanese kimono wearing doll I received as a gift as a child.

I’m delighted to make a floral arrangement using foliage found in our garden, it’s a very satisfying art! Placed with a scented candle in the middle, it makes a traditional centrepiece on the dining table.

A walk along the river is always interesting, today I met another nettle tea fan, plus a couple who’s daughter is an amateur botanist and discovered turkey tail mushrooms, plus dock, cow parsley, cleavers and dandelion leaves for a salad to enjoy alongside the main dinner.

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Winter Wreaths

Thank you ladies for a wonderful afternoon at the new My inner sanctuary centre next to Lovegift cafe. Winter Art is Naturally therapeutic; handling, touching, feeling the texture of the stems and leaves. Some soft, smooth, others prickly, or spiky.

The art of winter wreath design can be summed up: preparation prior to decoration.
We covered The woven willow base with fresh local wild ivy, conifer and other evergreens, before adding viburnum stems with pure, white flowers and the beautiful petrol blue berries stood out, in contrast to the bright yellow of the ivy flowers, black spherical berry heads, red holly berries and the soft greys of the dried lavender and poppy seed heads. Finally, the dried, brown, fluffy Hydrangea flower heads and spicy cinnamon bark sticks. Quite An achievement; certainly more than just a Couple of sticks 😉

Each selected a series of large pine cones to either add onto the wreath or to dangle from twine or ribbon.
I’m going to design a clove studded orange this year for the fist time. Following on from woven lavender ‘wands’ in summer, this a winter activity, aims to bring the sweet scents of citrus and cloves into our homes.

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Hayle Park Nature Reserve

I cut through the modern housing estate, to admire their front gardens and walked to the stream where I’d collected nettles in October. Ahead, a few branches lay obstructing the waterfall ever so slightly. The Peaceful sound of running water… then a young man walking by, observing my gaze commented about how it’d be nice to reach out and remove the obstructions. He told me that his father was the founder of the original conservation society there and now, he and his young family lived up at Mount Ararat, the top house on a steep pathway. We walked up together and admired the view across the ponds. It smells so fresh, on a damp, sunny day.

I’m so delighted that Timberland are sponsoring my new LNPC Ranger coat and boots; stomping further up and turning around to the right, climbing down the old steps and across the meadow towards the pond. A moorhen feeds and reminds me to bring my mum’s old scraps of bread for them in future. Meanwhile a mother and daughter threw their bread into the water.

The sound of gushing Water from Crisbrook Mill, as the water rushes from The old mill wheel as it turns, it is in action! I met The owners are outside gardening, pruning buddleia and deadheading roses. They’ve lived on the premises for two years and enjoy it despite the occasional driver who toots their horn too loudly, going around the corner, in the mornings which disturbs this area of natural beauty; a haven of peace and tranquillity. It’s part of the duality (on a Gemini Full moon) which affects us all.

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Christmas Crafts at LoveGift Vegan

We love this time of year; to bring a bit of cheer and nowhere more so than at my favourite vegan cafe, LoveGift. Following the success of the group 2019, we’ll be opening the door again for homemade, wild foliage fun and creativity with bows, ribbons, cones and flowers (fresh and dried).

Join me on Sunday 6th December 12.30 – 5pm, to design natural Christmas Crafts to decorate your home this Christmas.

Group size limited to 5 places. Individual space provided (COVID legal requirements: make space, cover your face and clean hands / sanitiser).

Contact Theresa for Children’s separate workshop places.

Cost includes teaching techniques, refreshments (tea/drink and cake/cookie) Full materials and tools will be supplied. (Lunch excl.) ADVANCE BOOKING REQUIRED

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Fall. Celtic mythology Halloween/Samhain

Edible leaves, flowers and fruits this season, including berries and mushrooms.

On Friday I went out for a walk in Tovil, Maidstone, an old historical part, in Crissbrook meadows and enjoyed the sound of the weir, ducks, coots and squirrels merrily chasing one another for lunch. I rambled up past an old stone wall to the field above overlooking the mill to find a wonderful little hawthorn tree laden with huge berries.

Neither these pretty pink and orange berries nor the bright pink clusters of berries are edible, above. Savouring that special sound of the leaves beneath my feet; light, crispy and often soggy and muddy and wet. On a pathway, alongside the river, a mother and child were walking along and I chose to return in the same direction, fresh water flowing, gushing from the weir. There was a perfect crop of nettles which I collected for an infusion and placed into a bag. A rosemary bush by the roadside looks in good health, so I snapped a twig off to add into the drink. Home for lunch and a hot drink: rinse and brew the leaves in fresh water with added rosemary sprig. which is the perfect caffeine-free pick-me-up. Nettles are rich in Iron and drinking them like this is a useful addition to our hydration during the cooler weather and to combat the drying effects of central heating . The rosemary oils made the water glossy and the impact was immediate. The soft nettle leaves are harmless and made a perfect addition to lunch with a tree herbal blend, a simple butternut squash soup and fruit.

After lunch, another walk along the river towards East Farliegh. All Along the bridge, children had painted a series of pebbles with designs and uplifting affirmations to bring joy and courage to passers by crossing the river, as a result of the Pandemic. What a great idea and discovery to those who look around. Pretty bright designs, with bold, love yourself, self care, peaceful messages painted on them, had been placed all along the walkway.
I walked left under the bridge and the smell of the cut nettles fills the air with a rich metallic scent (from their iron content). I’d collect some more on my return. A peaceful walk, admiring the colours, tree leaves and seeds dancing their way to earth.
Boats moored up with their little gated gardens and allotment plots. A kingfisher darted across; a flash of iridescent blue, into the woodlands on the opposite bank. 2 swans a – swimming, glided past. Comfrey with bright blue purple flowers, a slow berry bush and ivy in bloom growing up a large hazel tree. An hour in and I turned back to return to the house. Watching out for wildlife means observing new species as soon as possible; being observant in nature. I sang softly into the soft rain drizzle and Suddenly noticed a large bunch of new mushrooms with a central brown spot and delicate cap markings, followed by another huge cluster all around the base of a tree. Well camouflaged; unnoticed on my way up. Suddenly again, another 2 new fungi species, individual like on stalks, with a waxy flat cap and frilly feeling, open edged gills to touch. Finally, on the left, a small, weeping apple tree, laden with bramley apples, when all other trees had finished and beneath it sat a large bunny rabbit, munching away on an apple!

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Autumn Harvest

The Walking for Health group meets at Goldsmiths Community Centre in Downham and divides into groups of no more than x6 at Forster Park. This week we’ve noticed the trees are shedding their leaves, like mini solar panels, no longer required to harness the sunlight through photosynthesis via their chlorophyll, the leaves begin to loose this pigment and in so doing, reveals its bright colours. Beautiful flame reds, pinks, shades of yellow compete against the skyline.

A monthly Newspaper column. One of several old Cuttings from 40 yrs ago, depicting the weather

We’re thrilled that Forster Park has Commissioned us to design a new Sensory Garden for 2021 by the current rose garden area. This section has long been in need of a boost as the roses have been there since the last century. In its place we’ll plant scented, edible, touchy-feely plants to engage with all visitors and park users, plus we aim that Glendale will be planting a scented low hedge, natural raised beds, a willow arch and natural pathways, underfoot. Thank you to the Friends at Forster Memorial Park committee for selecting us to bring forward this new development! This week I’m researching local places, visiting the local hot composter Peter, Anne Marie (Lewisham Gardens). Next week I’m consulting together with Jordan, the Green Fund organiser and finally my good friend James and his wife for disability access and guide dog for the blind suitability.

This Saturday Effat and I lead a London National Park City Ranger foraging in Manor Park day out for the Lewisham Rangers. We’ll bring along a selection of wild harvested herbs to taste as well. It promises to be delicious!

We’re planning to launch our first KETO weight balance catering box, to support clients with immune System optimising meals.

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Moringa and mulberry to balance sugar to support pancreas

During our stay in Wellingborough, Effat collects Local herbs to add into daily menus. In particular, Wild harvested Moringa tree leaves, which add a lot of chlorophyll and therefore magnesium, calcium and Iron into our blood. I ate a high percentage of naturally combined raw living foods (with the exception of a little rice, yogurt and sourdough bread provided by our host).

I notice the positive effects almost immediately. my skin began to glow, my eyes became brighter and my nails grew visibly within a week. I felt able to walk for miles, easily with an increase in energy and stamina. I largely enjoy a variety of fresh no cook vegan plant based including plenty of seasonal and wild leaves; Moringa, dandelion, plantain and blackberries for 12 days. As a result I feel more nourishment and have given up any snacks, with a return eating for our cells, for nourishment and with fewer cravings for sweets or sugar. We eat a large brunch with as much green leaves and the savoury herbal blend.

The tree leaf blends taste great and is a unique blend of wild tree leaves including Mulberry leaves and plum which are suitable to treat diabetics. Mulberries are a deliciously low GI fruit and are suitable for diabetics. The addition of Sprouted Brown rice and millet makes it more fulfilling. All our recommendations for diabetes include Moringa, mulberry and avocado leaves.

Helps with:

  • reduce blood pressure
  • menopause symptoms eg. Hot flushes and sweats
  • energy and stamina
  • muscular fitness
  • restful sleep
  • balance blood sugar (diabetes)
  • reduces sweet and sugar cravings

10 x serving Pack 50g £7.00

Theresa Webb