Not used to the freezing cold weather, when the Romans invaded Britain they took to stuffing their trousers with stinging nettles- the sting’s inflammation caused a heat sensation that soothed winters bite.
That’s one of the brilliant nuggets and insights I had into herbs and our environment while on a foraging walk with Natasha from Forage Botanicals.
Other than easy wins like elderflower from the local park I haven’t done much foraging since moving to London. A combination of not knowing where to go and feeling unconfident on what can grow between the concrete cracks, this favourite hobby of mine has taken a back seat.
Until I got myself on to a guided walk with Natasha that is. She really knows her stuff having studied and practiced herbalism for years. Her knowledge about the plants I often pass by included the myths and legends that surround them, the science behind them and the practical usage of them.
That was the clincher for me. Up till now any foraging I have done has been purely for the kitchen. Making pesto’s and tarts from local greens, summer berry cocktails and desserts, and adding edible flowers to, well, anything. After an afternoon with Natasha though I learned that my foraging could have more intentional health benefits too. Whether that’s using chickweed for detoxing, plantain for healing wounds and rashes or nettle as an effective (and free!) antihistamine.
If you aren’t quite ready to get out there discovering the herbs around us for yourself though discovery can be brought to your door. At Forage Botanicals you can sign up for a monthly herb to be posted to you which you can make straight in to a tea while listening to a mindfulness exercise. A way to really be good to yourself.
As for the urban spin on the foraging thing, well the same usual rules to foraging apply, just make sure you wash anything taken from below the hip and watch out for areas like public parks that might have been sprayed.
Looks like the foraged finds that make it in to my basket might end up on my medicine shelf and not just the fridge from here on out. I won’t just wait till I’m back in Dorset to get the basket out either. Confidence restored! Thanks Natasha.