A Wild Taste of Summer

The Humble by Nature team had a busy few days last week preparing for the ‘Wild Taste of Summer’ course at the farm on Saturday. As it got closer to the actual day, it became increasingly apparent that the weather was going to take a major turn for the worse. Our vision of a happy group of carefree foragers ambling along country lanes in the sunshine, gathering flowers and seeds from the hedgerows was completely dashed when we checked the forecast for the hundredth time the day before the course and it looked something like this…

News bulletins started mentioning severe weather warnings and Twitter was awash with tweets about cancelled outdoor events. Our original plan for the day was for Liz Knight (superstar forager and founder of Forage Fine Foods) to take the guests out along the lanes surrounding the farm and teach them about some of the wonderful wild ingredients that can be found and how they can be used. They would then bring back their foraged goodies to the demo room in the barn, where I would demonstrate some recipes laden with the morning’s yield. After lunch, Liz planned to take everyone out again to collect wild flowers, with syrups and sorbets on the afternoon agenda.

With monsoonal weather now a certainty, Kate and Liz came up with the plan of recreating a beautiful Monmouthshire hedgerow inside the barn. Within hours, the end wall of the barn was hidden behind great bunches of dog roses, elderflower, honeysuckle, beech, ox-eyed daisies, mint, sorrel and pennywort to name just a few.

In the end, the planned morning forage still took place. It was a very successful mission despite the fact that within 5 minutes of Kate and me waving everyone off, the noise of the rain pummelling the metal roof of the barn was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other talk. The returning gatherers were drenched to the skin but were definitely still smiling – it was a ‘solidarity in the face of adversity’ kind of a moment – and this enthusiastic, gutsy group were not going to be beaten by a bit of (a lot of) rain. After a session at the demo table on how to harvest wild yeast and make a starter dough, everyone made flatbread and Egyptian dukkah before sitting down to a Moroccan inspired lunch laced with wild ingredients. The indoor hedge sprung into action after lunch as the relentless rain continued to lash the barn. Everyone made their own floral syrup to pour onto honey buns and found out how to make Liz’s glorious honeysuckle sorbet before indulging in some treats with a cup of tea at the end of the day.

Here are some more pictures from the course.

Here are some pictures of the food followed by the day’s menu…

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