Beautiful things

I have been very busy the past few weeks, getting the Urban Herbology Foraging and Crafting Courses set up to run independently, for people who want and need these skills for increased self-reliance and community resilience, but who don’t want to do my full Apprenticeship course in one go. Both courses are now recognized and accredited by the Complementary Medicine Association, so I am very pleased. People can follow these alone (one or both) or they can build up to all 5 courses, which make up the Apprenticeship.

So that has taken up a lot of time behind my screen however, I have been outside a lot too. And, what beautiful things I have seen and what lovely people I have met! Here are a few of them:

Street food
Today I led a small group walk in the center of town, looking at interesting herbs which the local council frequently plant besides roads. Above you will see Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) and Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa). Absolute edible and medicinal crackers! Not that I suggest the Amsterdam population goes out foraging all these from council plantings, but what I do suggest is that people get to know what’s growing near them and how they could be used in small amounts.

Street weeds
We also found some wonderful street weeds. I find that a street will have one predominant weed species, growing in many neglected plant pots, street gardens, between bike racks and in paving cracks. See if you notice the same… Sometimes I find a street lined with Gallant soldiers (Galinsoga parviflora) (apparently loved as guasca by Latin American cooks for potato dishes – thanks Mayda!), sometimes Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria officinalis) an age old remedy for the urinary system), sometimes Herb Robert (look it up – it’s an awesome herb). These are surely a gift from the gutter gods. I urge everyone to get to know their street weeds. You never know when they could help you out of a tight spot.

In the tree pit shown above, we found heaps of Gallant soldiers, two prime Shepherd’s purse plants and a few other special plants.

Fungi
This seems to be the fruiting bodies of Giant polypore (Meripilus giganteus – Thank you Peter!) and what a gorgeous specimen the photo on the left preserves. Found these are at the base of a mature Beech tree, in woodland at the end of a lovely herb walk. The base of the tree is spiraled by clumps of specimen of this fungus, each one at a different stage of decay. This type of fungal fruiting body decays very quickly. Quite a site to behold.

I am not a mushroom expert so I am not going to tell much about these except that I have read, if this is indeed Giant polypore, when super fresh and cooked to perfection, it tastes like cardboard and is mildly poisonous. Umm – I will move on to other wild treats me thinks!

Fine taste
This afternoon, I showed some of the staff from Restaurant Merkelbach around the plants which surround their workplace. This is also where the River of Herbs orchards are to be found and it is lovely to share that space with such super people. Walking with them, this afternoon reminds me of how inspiring it is, to meet people with great taste and such sharp culinary imagination! I look forward to learning what they make with today’s finds.

Inula helenium – Elecampane



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