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A Late Summer Herbal walk in Mountsfield park with the Quo Vadis Trust

On Thursday 12th September Was a mild day to lead a wellbeing group Herbal walk around a local park. We set off to find more edible plant species that Mountsfield park has to offer, with cloth bags and scissors. @FOMP http://Www.mountsfieldpark.wordpress.com (find out more of the history of Mountsfield park here). Francis kindly donated organically grown fresh produce from the QVT garden: a crown prince pumpkin, potatoes and a courgette.

In season, Locally sourced Wild ‘weeds’ provide an abundance of minerals, much like a mini supplement/vitamin pill instead of which, these offer small medicinal properties including calming iron, calcium and magnesium.

Walking up the south circular road was very noisy and polluted so we turned off earlier than planned into looking up, I noticed tiny black grapes hung in clusters above our heads. Paul (tallest member in the group) collected several bunches and before long we’d all savoured the sweet/sour juice and crunchy pips.

Catford grapes; a juicy snack along the route!

we met another participant at the park and stood or sat beneath the arbour in the community garden. There We studied the flame coloured nasturtium flowers (strong/hot flavour leaves and flowers) and milder calendulas. The rich vibrant colours are abundant in an array of plants and vegetables including cardoons, beans and purple sprouting broccoli. Everyone experiences the positive effects of nature on our wellbeing. (Note: The garden is open to visitors but all produce belongs to the park volunteers!)

The over 100 yr old London Plane Trees absorb carbon pollution from the roadside in their bark, which then peels off to reveal a patchwork of colours. This is another example of how plants improve our environment and well-being

Preserving these wild foods, can be easily achieved; by making sauces from hawthorn berries, drying nettles, mint and lemon balm for tea and sprinkle nettle seeds to garnish salads and soups. Plantain leaves stem blood flow and are antiseptic; these have a robust flavour for use in salad and juice. Similarly yarrow’s feathery leaves and dandelion (lion’s tooth plant) and burdock leaves for opening and flushing/cleansing the urinary tract. Nettle leaves offer an energy boost of iron; now the seeds are developed these can be harvested (carefully!) and dried out on a tray in a cloth bag and store in a jar and use as an alternative to pepper.

A juicy Crown Prince pumpkin. Save the seeds to re plant agin, in years to come.

Back at the QVT site kitchen we chose our tasks and prepared a great lunch together: a pumpkin, horseradish (donated by award winning gardener Mary from her allotment), potato, green lentil and ginger soup served with rye bread and organic sunflower spread plus salads: courgette ribbons creamy herb pesto style dressing with cashew nuts, olive oil, avocado, tomatoes (from our garden) and washed herbs from the park garnish of sliced red (pink!) cabbage, yellow rocket flowers, and living lentil sprouts for extra crunch and protein. Plus stuffed little gem lettuce leaves with avocado and tomato dressing.

For our Dessert we handmade individual chocolate, date and walnut truffles with an apple and blackberry compote (premade with cinnamon) and topped with a Catford grape! We made a refreshing fresh mint tea and tried mallow (lavatera) flowers for soothing digestion. Norman has nicknamed me as a Plant Professor!

A natural no-added sugar dessert has been shown to improve our mood and mental balance.

Wheat-free recipes for optimising well-being and reducing bloating and fatigue.

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Elderberry harvest this weekend

Homemade Natural remedies with local Wild Elderberries.

To take home
Benefits to our winter health introduction to elderberries.

Now We’re in September, autumn draws nearer has a chill in the early morning air and the nights are drawing in.

Back In May, We prepared a refreshing elderflower tonic in Tessa’s Tiny Tots, from the Tree outside in the back garden. 
An Elderberry cluster looks like bronchioles in our lungs; a system of branches. Following the ‘Doctrine of signatures’, Therefore these tiny, dark burgundy berries, support our respiratory tract against common disorders like colds and flu.
Elderberry is a rich source of vitamin C. For treatment of coughs & colds, have them to hand, ready for the winter months ahead. 
Preparation: a cluster snaps off easily and cleanly from the tree (or bush)
Prize off the tiny berries using a fork. 
Uses: as a garnish, on top of desserts. 
As a tea!
A sugar free Syrup – replace white sugar and use an alternative sweetener.

Join us at Forster Memorial Park foraging on Saturday 14th September at the funday from 11-12noon by the cafe and playground Whitefoot lane entrance.

Apple and blackberry sauce (no added sugar). For adding into yogurt, cereal or as a low sugar spread.

My neighbour kindly shares her apples which I collected and went on a blackberry harvest from the back. Fortunately together they’re sweet enough and not too sharp to turn them into a compote (spread/jam) with added spices.

Prepare the apples and remove any bruised parts or caterpillar eggs infestation. These look like small brown dots amongst the core. Take care when consuming wild apples, In case a caterpillar has hatched inside!

Ensure that the Blackberries are clean and insect free by soaking well in water and leave immersed for 15 mins. Rinse and remove any floating larvae, or insects which crawl to the surface!

Place both fruit together into a saucepan with a cup of water to cover the bottom and cook gently until the apples soften, approx 10 mins. Stir in the spices; generous pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, freshly grated or ground ginger and a mini pinch of cloves.

When cool, add white chia seeds (preferably ground) and melted coconut oil to enable the setting process (although the latter may solidify into white particles).

The result is a delicious seasonal fruit spread (no added sugar).