It's funny how sometimes you don't make connections between one thing and another; then the penny drops and all of a sudden obstacles disperse before your very eyes and everything flows more freely.
I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts that I had been 'missing a trick' when it came to feeding myself on my Off-Grid Sundays.
Having sorted out ways to boil water and heat up food without using electricity or gas, the next thing I wanted to address was the actual food itself. It seemed a bit silly to be making such an effort trying to wean myself off the 'system' whilst still relying on that same system (shopping) for most of what I eat.
I am able to grow small amounts of fruit and vegetables in my tiny garden and on my shared allotment, but most of what I eat still comes from a shop. Ok, so it's a small, local, independent organic shop.... but it still involves food miles, a trip into Malvern, small amounts of packaging and of course 'money'!
For as long as I can remember I have been interested in using plants for medicine and to supplement my diet but I've never really thought of it as anything more than an 'interest'. If I want a green salad, for instance, I grow as much as space permits, purchase what I can't grow myself from a local organic producer and then add the odd leaf of sorrel, chickweed or dandelion picked from the hill behind my house. But I have never made a concerted effort to try and feed myself on as much wild food as possible.
How on earth did I not put two and two together months ago and add 'foraged food' to the list of precepts I follow on Sundays?! Too focussed on the disparate elements of what I was trying to achieve instead of good old fashioned joined up thinking perhaps...
Anyway, since the penny finally dropped I have made every effort to gather as much food as possible from the wild and have especially enjoyed the enormous variety of leaves available within walking distance from my house. So far, I've eaten wild sorrel, wood sorrel, hairy bittercress, hawthorn, beech, lime, comfrey, rosebay willow, chickweed, dandelion, ramsons, stinging nettles and pennywort.... all freshly harvested, absolutely delicious and, of course, free.
I haven't tried any fungi yet (apart from jews ears) and it's been too early for nuts and berries, so I'm nowhere near relying on wild food for my Off-grid Sundays, but there's been an unexpected bonus.... as well as enjoying all these new foraged greens, I'm learning more each day about all the incredible plants growing on the hills and woods around Malvern and I'm loving it!
The thing about foraging is that it makes you notice, and want to identify, every single little plant you come across - on the off chance that some part of it might be edible or useful in some way or another. This has opened the door into a whole new world for me; a world full of surprises that fill me every day with absolute wonder. I just love the fact that I can now recognise (and identify) so many plants I would previously have walked straight past without even registering. Not only this, but I have started to notice and understand some of the symbiotic relationships between certain trees and fungi which I never even knew existed before (the trees, the fungi AND the symbiotic relationships that is!)
It's all so fascinating that I wish I could spend every waking moment learning more about our amazing flora and fauna; I really can't believe how lucky I am to have discovered this whole new world on the other side of the little gate which leads from my patio onto the Malvern Hills.
DISCONNECTION AND RECONNECTION
I know I must sound like a long playing record that's got stuck, but I really do believe that most of the problems we are experiencing today are directly linked to our disconnection from the natural world. Since I started going off-grid on Sundays I've become so much more aware of my natural surroundings and my relationship with those surroundings, that I couldn't possibly knowingly cause any harm or damage to that which I now know I am a part of.
Does that make sense? It's quite difficult to explain in a blog, but what I'm trying to say is that everything we do to nature we do to ourselves. We and nature are one. We cannot continue to control, dominate, exploit and destroy that which nurtures and sustains us without destroying ourselves too. The symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, or flowers and bees is a perfect example of nature in balance. However, we humans have become so far removed from the natural world that we no longer understand 'balance'. We don't even notice the destruction we are causing. We walk (or drive) around in our own little bubbles and are oblivious to what is going on around us on both micro and macro levels.
The solution? Reconnection with nature.
Why? Because when we remember that we are 'a part of' nature instead of 'apart from' her we will want to heal that which we have hurt and the destruction will stop.
How? Get outside and spend quality time with nature! Take your shoes off, feel the earth beneath your feet, the wind in your hair, the rain on your skin and the sun on your back. Breath in the fresh air, smell some wild honeysuckle, chew some sorrel, hug a tree (and I mean really hug it!). Lie in the grass with your eyes closed and listen to the birds, the bees, the leaves, the wind.... and reconnect!
If you take the time to get back in touch with Mother Earth she will respond and your life will never be the same again :)
Love and hugs from me to whoever reads this blog xxxx
P.S....Huge thanks to a very special lady.....my friend Carol.... for all your inspiration and for sharing everything you know with me and anyone else who has an interest in learning about wild food.
Natural Bushcraft; great site and lovely friendly forum - http://www.naturalbushcraft.co.uk/
Super forager and friend Fergus Drennan - http://www.wildmanwildfood.com/
Everything about nettles - http://www.nettlesoup.info/index.htm