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‘I’m starting to think foraging should be prescribed on the NHS’

PUBLISHED: 16:30 07 October 2017

Take part in an afternoon of foraging and demonstrations. Picture: SHEENA GRANT

Take part in an afternoon of foraging and demonstrations. Picture: SHEENA GRANT

Archant

My month of foraging is almost at an end but I’m not quite done yet, writes Sheena Grant.

A walk among the fields and hedgerows on a warm, autumnal afternoon always seems to reveal something else that can be taken home for the pot or some other use around the home.

And it’s not only that. There’s something so grounding, calming and connecting about foraging that I’m starting to think it should be prescribed on the NHS as a kind of natural alternative to mindfulness meditation.

With a couple of hours to spare on the sort of day that makes you restless to be indoors I headed out to pick more blackberries for the freezer.

The sun was shining, but with the kind of deep yellow glow that signals its fading power and a light that seems to mimic the fiery hues of the season.

I headed out to my usual coastal foraging spot. The abundance of berries from a few weeks ago was past but there were still plenty to be found and before long the hollow popping sound as they hit the bottom of the tub was replaced by the softer sound of berry falling on voluptuous berry.

In the distance I could hear the rhythmic hush of the sea, like a lullaby, and closer by the liquid song of a robin.

There was time to stop and wonder as a red admiral butterfly landed on my elbow, opening its wings to the warmth of the sun and to gaze, spellbound, at an enormous fungi growing in damp grass nearby.

I was truly in the moment. I thought of my dad and grew nostalgic about his annual quest for field mushrooms.

But I had no idea what this monster was and even if I had, harvesting it would have been like destroying a work of art.

Back home, I looked up this wonder of nature. It is, I believe, Amanita rubescens, otherwise known as the Blusher. It is apparently edible.

Perhaps I should have harvested it after all.

But then I read on: “Can be confused with the deadly Panther Cap, Amanita pantherina.”

That’s why I give fungi a wide berth, I reminded myself.

And anyway, there are other things to forage, a point I proved by spending the rest of the afternoon making blackberry and apple pies, sauces and chutneys and planning my next foraging adventure, for rosehips, or perhaps haws.

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