We’ve mentioned in our previous blogs that we love to forage and explore and create with natural ingredients that we find growing in the wild.
Our children have grown up immersing themselves in this ancient pastime and so are a dab hand at noticing interesting flowers, berries and plants on our many adventures.
Once we’ve checked they are correct via our various information books and the handy ‘Seek’ app, the children use complex tools like sacateurs and scissors to cut, pick, pull and collect these wild ingredients.
We frequently talk about how we must not pick plants/flowers for the sake of it and so we ensure we always use whatever we forage/collect to ensure none is wasted.
The children have made countless tasty offerings from ingredients we’ve found in the wild; elderflower cordial, plum & sloe gin, blackberry crumble, tomato ketchup from tomatoes they’ve grown themselves in our growing area as well as our own strawberry ice cream from our local PYO.
Not only are the children learning countless irreplaceable life skills by learning so young how to identify safe to eat/touch wild ingredients and also the amazing skills that come from following recipes, independent cooking skills, using tools, handling hot ingredients and substances and then the concentration required for bottling/preparing, and literacy skills as they write labels and store what they’ve made, the children are also learning an incredible lesson in sustainability and a wider understanding of their natural world and the things that our planet gives to us, for free.
We believe it is incredibly important for children to know and understand that we don’t just buy food from the shops, but actually have a deeper understanding of where their food comes from, how it’s grown, how it’s preserved and how much we can actually create, for free from what the planet gives us.
Not only this, but from introducing, encouraging and nurturing a love of foraging from so early on, the children also learn the complex concept of seasons and how different ingredients/plants/berries grow at different times of year and so the annual crops and projects we embark upon are time sensitive and seasonal and so the planet is always offering us different ingredients, flavours and flowers, we just need to learn and utilise our knowledge to ensure we are getting the best from the offerings each year.
Whilst cooking activities and projects are beneifical from the children from the outset, the value of foraging for ingredients, bringing them home, washing them, preparing them and adding them to or making a meal from, for free, from ingredients the children have collected on their outdoor adventures, are simply invaluable.