Wednesday morning saw us head out on a foraging expedition around the school grounds.
It was just a short expedition, in between notes on freezing (is it possible for something to be both boring as well as interesting? If so, freezing was it), sheep’s milk cheese, biscotti and olive oil tastings. But – amazing. Once again, Darina was so impressive in her knowledge of every tree, every plant, every bird and animal we saw on the farm.
Although this time of year is known as ‘The Hungry Gap’ or that time between the Winter crops finishing and the new Spring/Summer crops really beginning, there are edible treasures hidden if you just know where to look for them.
Although all things foraged are now seen to be pretty trendy, like a lot of things around these parts people were foraging here long before restaurants in London decided they sounded good on a menu. Foraging was a gift, an opportunity to discover extra treats and treasures from the land around you. Foraging is by its very definition, seasonal. Wild garlic for example which is everywhere at the moment is in season for 1 – 2 months every year. You couldn’t get this stuff out of season even if you want to, it grows wildly in gardens and by the sides of the road, ready and available for those with the knowledge and inclination to pick it.
On our spin around the farm we saw sweet myrtle berries, wild garlic which makes that beautiful pesto and goes with everything at this time of year, pastel yellow primroses ready to get lightly sugared and used as cake decorations, camphor leaves for healthy digestion and sweet cecily, a sweet aniseed herb which is lovely flavoured in syrups, creams and in desserts. We saw how the gardens, already flourishing into life, must just be positively bursting in the Spring and Summer months with fruit, vegetables, flowers and trees.
There is no denying it would be amazing to see the school all in these bright and generous months, but in many ways I’m so pleased I get to see such an amazing garden just as its waking up and coming back into life. I’ve learnt so much about the rhythms and discoveries of a winter garden, less obvious perhaps, but all the more intriguing because of that.