Eat your greens – Foraging with Natasha of Forage Botanicals

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly Lived

Spring is reawakening the world around us from its winter’s slumber. Now is the perfect time to tempt your sleeping taste buds to a feast from our past, allowing our dormant hunter gather to reappear with a spot of foraging.

Foraging’s popularity has increased over the past few of years with programs like River Cottage and Countryfile featuring the hunt for food in our hedgerows. The National Trust and other similar organisations have also set up events to show their visitors what to look out for with guided walks and leaflets.

Living in the countryside, I often feel that I don’t take advantage of the plentiful bounty of tastes and ingredients which grow around our home. With this in mind, I decided to chat with Natasha Richardson of Forage Botanicals to find out what I should be looking for as I walk the dog each day.

Eat your greens - Natasha from Forage Botanicals | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly Lived

First, here’s a bit of background on Natasha.

Originally trained in herbalism at University of Lincoln following her experiences and courses at Neal’s Yard Remedies, this followed a passion in her childhood to learn about the world around her. “It was partly fuelled by my interest in paganism that started when I was at school. I also think Buffy and Charmed had something to do with it too.”

During a gap year, Natasha started working for Neal’s Yard Remedies and took as many courses as she could through them to further her interest and learn how the world around her could help and heal.
“I thought about studying homoeopathy but the herbs swayed me. I wanted to be out in the world,” so she continued to learn and turned her hobby and passion into a business, Forage Botanicals where she offers monthly walks, usually in and around London. She demonstrates that no matter where you live, there is always somewhere you can find things to forage.

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly Lived

“The best places to look for herbs in an urban area is railway stations. The entrances and exits aren’t usually kept and you can find many of the herbs just growing freely. Along the edges of allotments is another great place or at the entrance of parks where the council hasn’t tidied.”

Alongside the monthly meet ups and herb walks, Natasha presents workshops to show how to use the herbs found on the herb walks as well as online courses to share her more detailed knowledge of herbalism and how it can be helpful in our everyday lives.

“Spring is a great time to get out and forage. From March we are coming out of the fresh leafy greens and as we go into June, the flowers are appearing.”

Here are Natasha’s top foraging picks for Spring:

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly LivedNettle

Found on waste ground, in gardens and along hedgerows. The ideal time to pick March – early June when the plants are young before they flower. Use in a tea to detox and to help with hay fever. To cook, wilt in boiling water, drain and squeeze out and chop up. Can be used in stews, curries, risotto, pizza and pies.

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly LivedCleavers (Sticky buds)

Found in gardens, woods, hedgerows. Use the young stems which are about 10 cm long and with 1-2 leaves. Makes a great detox tea as well as a side vegetable dish when steamed and buttered. It can also be added to scrambled eggs, spaghetti and soups.

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly LivedDandelion Leaves

Found wherever there is grass. Use the young leaves as they are less bitter. Has a bitter taste, like chicory. Another great detox tea plus a tasty addition to salads or use the flower buds in fritters.

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly LivedMarigold Flowers

Found in hedgerows. Can be used both internally and externally. When made into a cream it can be used to heal external wounds. When made into a tea, it will heal internal wounds like stomach ulcers and can be stirred into soups and risotto.

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly LivedElderflower

Found in woods, hedgerows, and wasteland. Use only the flowers or berries as the rest is poisonous. Can be made into many things including cordial, wine and vinegar. Great for hay fever, runny noses, and wet coughs. Also ideal for inhalation using a hot water bowl.

Eat your greens | Foraging | Herbs | Slow Living | Slowly LivedHeartsease (Viola tricolor)

Found in woods, wasteland, corn fields, and gardens. Use internally as a tea and externally in a cream to relieve hot dry skin conditions such as eczema. They can also be used in spring salads, made into syrups and crystallised to decorate cakes and puddings.

Natasha does have a word of warning to add. “Although foraging, if done properly can add immense benefits to our health, you really need to know what you are looking for. I advise new foragers to head out with a herb identification book and photograph anything they find before picking and sharing it with a herb identification group on Facebook like the Herb, Plant and Foraging identification workgroup.”

To find out more about Natasha and what she does, pop over to Forage Botanicals.

Please follow and like us:

18 Comment

  1. It’s funny, we are surrounded by some of these lovely things but I never pick them to eat I don’t know why but this post is inspiring me to forage!

  2. Oh wow I would never think to eat these things in a million years!! Nettles?? That sounds crazy but I’d like to try them!

  3. How fascinating! It’s surprising what you can use, I never would have thought you could use those cleavers (sticky buds) x

  4. I was quite into alternatives and things we wouldn’t normally have when going through ivf….especially the benefits of nettles. I’m far too much of a worrier to forage for food though

  5. Very interesting its surprising what you can actually use herbs like these for. I’ve never gone foraging before but it does soubd very interesting.

  6. It sounds so rewarding, as well as healthy and packaging free, to find food this way.

  7. Oo this is so interesting! I’ve always wanted to find out more about foraging – it’s such a good thing to do if you know how to safely 🙂

  8. I used to pick berries when I was in the countryside and some herbs too. I loved Elderflower x

  9. My friends run Fore Adventure in Dorset and make the most wonderful dishes from foraged plants etc. I need to get more confident in doing it

  10. I’ve always been too worried about picking the wrong thing 🙂 great tips and helpful advice, thansk for sharing!

  11. What a fascinating post! We’d love to go foraging and often wonder what’s around us as we walk around. I’m going to hunt down some books to read more about the subject x

  12. What a neat foraging 101. I love foraging personally – even for fruit but never thought of doing so for leaves and nettles. I live next to two country parks so I will definitely be keeping an eye out now when walking the dog 🙂

  13. This is such an interesting post, definitely want to research this further after reading this!

  14. I really want to start foraging, even just to explore the outside world with my little toddler.

  15. I have a couple of friends who go foraging but as yet they haven’t persuaded me to try it. I’m just not too sure about eating some of the finds (especially nettles)

  16. That is such an interesting read. I have never been foraging but it is such a great idea and the benefits are so great. I have just discovered the joys of Neal’s Yard too and so I might just go and read more about foraging as I think it is something that I could really get into

  17. I love foraging for nettle, elderflower and blackberries (later in the year of course). At some point I really want to make sloe gin! Great post, very informative

    Laura x

  18. What a great post – I shall go out and pick some nettles!

Leave a Reply