By: Blonde Two
Apologies for the slight (not-so-slight) hint of sarcasm in the title above but it was designed to appeal to the search engines, at the same time as making a point. I really do think it’s time for us all stop reading (and writing) those crazy ‘quiet places‘, ‘secret places‘, ‘nobody knows about this place‘ articles, and learn to explore and find our own special locations.
Whether you want to go foraging in the South West or not, no place is secret or hidden if you’ve read about it online.
On top of that, if you are foraging, you definitely won’t get the best results by visiting the same bush, bramble or tree as everybody else. I can however tell you the five best, secret, hidden places to go foraging for wild foods in Devon. Or anywhere else for that matter.
That’s because the best places for foraging are the ones you find yourself on short explorations in your local area.
Foraging in your local park
Unless your local play park is really overgrown, you’re unlikely to find blackberries growing down the slide (I don’t recommend sliding if you do). All parks however, have edges, and wild foods love edges. Next time you visit a park, take some time to walk around the boundary, and see what you can spot.
Foraging in your local woodland
Woods are interesting places because they provide a wide range of growing conditions. Some trees have fruits that can be harvested (that is if you get there before the squirrels), and some plants (like springtime ransoms or wild garlic) love the deep shade under trees. Other plants however need more light, and thrive around the edges of the wood where they are often left to their own devices.
Foraging on the clifftops
I’m not suggesting risky climbing here but the next time you’re striding along the South West Coast Path, take some time to notice the plants around you. Sea kale, sea buckthorn, rock samphire, and (near me) escaped fennel are all interesting edibles.
Foraging along an urban footpath
What do footpaths have plenty of (as well as dog mess that is)? That’s right, they have miles and miles of edges. Edges that (luckily for us foragers) are often allowed to flower and fruit as they natured intended. Just this morning I found sloes, elderberries, rose hips, and even apples down a path I have walked many times but not properly looked at.
Foraging in your own garden
This one won’t apply to everyone and there’s a fine (but completely unimportant) line between foraging and harvesting but you might be surprised by how much edible food there is in your garden. Those dandelions, that mint, those nettles in the corner, all have the potential for a little exploratory nibble.
Tips for successful foraging
I’m by no means an expert on foraging so I spend a fair amount of time consulting the experts (usually online). Some things however are easy to spot, and I always recommend starting with blackberries. These squidgy delights are great for instant eating, crumble with custard, muffins, and homemade jam recipes. If you are in Devon or Cornwall, and want to improve your foraging skills, I can really recommend Rachel Lambert’s Wild Food Foraging and Seaweed Foraging books as well as her courses.