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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).

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An Edible medicinal plant wildlife Garden

One of the *new* seasonal kitchen Buddy offers to supply for our clients is a half day herbal wellness workshop in learning about edible weed identification and benefits in your local area. This exciting new service is specifically aimed at educating and inspiring clients to learn how to recognise seasonal edible herbs in the wild at home in the garden and transform into a refreshing menu, using a simple step by step, natural recipe formula.

I showed our Local beekeeper Steven Turner a Tour around the garden and area, with a tray, explaining how each plant grows in a unique way. We observed lots of bees attracted to the fuchsia bush and gathered a selection of fresh leaves, flowers, petals, fruit and berries. We took them into the kitchen and after rinsing them well in water, puréed them into a delicious paste with added put lentil sprouts.

Steven spiralised half a courgette or was it a marrow, mixed them together and decorated it with colourful flower petals and buds. For drinks we made a Fresh mint tea (and shared a cool Kombucha). The menu was completed by Turkish olives, artichoke hearts and an organic calzone.

Today our collection of over 10 seasonal plants for our menu includes: forget-me-not leaf, nasturtium, rose, self heal, Melissa, mint, chickweed, basil, thyme, tomatoes, blackberries, victoria plums and a fuchsia berry!

Enjoy the taste and flavours of Summer with a herbal wild food foraging masterclass by Theresa and Efat: book your 3 hr session now.

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Wellbeing walk on the hottest day in Mountsfield Park

Today is the hottest day of the year, ever; since records began in UK, Germany and Netherlands. My friend (and local DJ & florist) Lynne and I had arranged to meet for a follow up to a group walk I lead during Hither Green week 2018. Our aim was to increase our learning through the natural environment in the park. We set out early this morning, in a vain attempt to avoid the heat of the of the day but it soon became apparent that we needed to seek extra shade. Our mutual love of flowers and foliage lead us to explore the many beautiful areas that the community garden has to offer (whilst being mindful of the notices to leave the produce).

The contrast from festival field to town life is vast. To dispel the mass, wide feelings of personal and public overwhelm, taking a ‘dip’ into a natural, ecological environment, restores our inner peace, not miles away from home. Whether staying locally through choice or avoiding flying, there are many pleasures to be found in the local landscape.

The power of nature to restore us in our right mind and the role it plays in our positive mental health and well-being reminds me of a cartoon which depicts a person forest bathing, laying on the grass, gazing upwards, who explains that he is re-charging, his ‘device’ and the power to re-charge us, is none other than the sky… in a technologically superior age, it’s ever apparent that we need to engage with this element to regain a sense of peace inside ourselves. Like the devices so often used we too need this recharge to benefit from the best that health has to offer us.

Walking barefoot: taking off our shoes and sandles to safely feel the grass/water/soil/sand beneath our feet also acts as ‘grounding’ and feels empowering.

A female blackbird hops past with a breakfast in her beak. We explore the area and our belief in being positive with nature helps us to feel happier, in our place. Despite still being in the UK, as opposed to foreign climes, the enjoyment and appreciation of an enchanting wild space surprisingly increases and enhances our morning.

We find yarrow, for salads and stem blood flow, both wide & narrow plantain. Lynne later uses the leaves to provide relief from an earlier mosquito bite, with great effect; the itching and swelling ceases. There are green elder berries with rich burgundy stems ripening on the tree, which will be ready to eat well in advance of September. When they have turned deep burgundy red, they supply us with vitamin C which boosts our immunity and supports us against colds in the winter months ahead. The Cardoons’ mauve flowers tower 7-8’ above us.

Lemon balm (Melissa) grows in thickets and soothes our senses- a perfect addition to an infusion (cup of hot water infused flowers & leaves).

Blackberries are ripening at an increasing rate side by side with beautiful urtica dioica – stinging nettles. The time for fertility has arrived and their seed heads boast a bounty of delicate protein rich seeds.

Later the female blackbird swoops past us, as if in confirmation of our discussions.

The scent of a multitude of roses from the rose garden wafts over in our direction and we both inhale, deeply, smiling at the subtlety in the heat of the day. We leave feeling more renewed, if not somewhat hotter, than when we first began.

in Mountsfield Park (for more details on this park, contact FOMP)

Today I picked yarrow, plantain, mallow

Fresh versus Dried flowers

Creating a mutual understanding with creatures; how Lynne avoided being stung:

Contact Theresa Webb for individual 1:1 seasonal wild food foraging sessions locally/in your area.

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Soothing Solstice tea: Linden blossom harvest

Today We’re Celebrating the Summer Solstice; our longest day in the Northern hemisphere and instead of visiting a ‘sacred’ site in the West Country I went on a hunt for Linden Blossom, flowers from the common Lime tree (Tilea). These flowers possess such a gorgeous scent which wafts around on the breeze in order for you to identify its location. Often street trees are primed and cut for us to walk beneath, however this makes harvesting harder so fortunately there are a several local trees with branches almost reaching down to the ground, which makes collection easier. This is the best time of year, blossoms are blooming out however they open in succession, some trees are still in bud and not yet out. This enables foragers to safely collect little and often from these parts; to enjoy the lower branches and leave the rest for the bees.

The blossoms make excellent tea infusion for a relaxing afternoon or evening. A Combination with mint and lemon balm is my favourite. They are best fresh however dry easily and smell great again when used at a later date.

Making our own local fresh remedies is empowering and rewarding.

Theresa Webb

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Less is more: young, fresh shoots to collect during Lent. #wildfood

Having reached the ‘half-way mark’ during Lent and I’ve bought a few charity shop items (supporting local and international causes), visited Brighton VegFest with the Vegan Organic Network and enjoyed a new Seaweed produced by @Seagreens.

Since then, Spring reminds us that fresh, new shoots are bursting forth and flower buds preparing to bear fruit later in the year. Behold the best wild food foraging season in the urban South East London region and another walk tour around our local @Mountsfield Park, which yielded many meadow and woodland delights.


Here’s how to pick your own wild green salads, to save purchasing mixed salad leaves, pre-prepared in plastic bags.

In the lower woodland area: Dead nettle has square stems (with apparent edges), tiny pink flowers and leaves similar to that of stinging nettles, offering a robust flavour, minus the sting (hence it’s name). Chickweed (Stellaria Media) spreads and grows horizontally, along the ground, in clumps, with tiny white flowers and lots of leaves, which all has a light flavour, like lettuce.

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) is in lush leaf – with feathery foliage, celery stalk like stems with white buds becoming tall, umbelliferous flower heads later in Spring. Beware not to confuse this with Hemlock, a poisonous, similar plant to which Hogweed is also akin but with purple spots along the stems. Only touch those stems which are green (& not covered in purple splotches).

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) grows in low level clumps (to a metre high in summer) with iron-rich leaves, delicious to juice (in moderation) or boil into a tea and offers us a natural energy and stamina boost, due to its high iron levels. Combining Dandelion(Taraxacum) detoxes our urinary tract and large Burdock leaves (and roots) opens cells for purification. The former ‘Lion’s-tooth-plant’ (in French) refers to the shape of the plant’s leaves and yellow flower head.

Yarrow (Achillae millefolium); feathery little leaves grow in the grass and have a strong flavour, great for blood clotting and wound healing, as is Plantain (Plantago) with ribbed, pointed, finger-like leaves with threads form parts of the ribs (part of our ‘common-thread’ principle.

We each enjoyed all of these leaves, which due to their being uncultivated, offer us unprecedented mineral amounts of Calcium and magnesium, plus Chlorophyll, as a blood cleanser, which helps in thyroid balance, glowing skin, hormonal balance and energy. Each weed offers a unique, vibrant taste and grows tenacious, wild and free; elements which pass into our cells: we are what we eat (and absorb).

Dandelions