The John Muir conservation group talk about the food found on their nature trail in this week’s column.
After months of planning and working in the rain, the Nature Trail at Claver Hill (called ‘Claver Hill and Beyond’), is about to open. What does a nature trail have to do with food you ask? Well, there is food for birds, insects, deer, mice, and yes, we have food for humans too. Foraging was a very important source of f food for our hunter gatherer ancestors and still is today for many a jam and wine maker. So let me take you on a quick tour of the trail…
We start with the bee and butterfly haven – these insects are important pollinators for much of the food we eat.
The trail then swings past the two poly tunnels where cherry tomatoes were enjoyed by all last summer. In a few years’ time, we look forward to a tasty harvest from the orchard- also found near the polytunnels.
The trail carries on to the ‘forage path’ where a range of wild goodies can be found. Hips and haws were an important source of vitamin C during the war. And nearby, the ransoms will hopefully send out their heavenly scent of garlic come the spring. Depending on the season you may also find sunflowers, wild raspberries and strawberries, hogweed, bitter cress, rowan, sloes, and nettle – a feast for the adventurous.
Next we find ‘Spud Club’, the community food growing project, which grows just about every vegetable that has ever graced your table including: yacon, Asian spinach, lettuce, carrots, onions, parsnips, cabbage, beans, peas, courgettes and sweetcorn.
We pass through the shelter belt to meet a circular picnic spot surrounded with edible flowers and a series of curved beds full of perennial veg like asparagus and artichokes. To season all this lovely food, there is the herb garden- you can work out which mint is chocolate, touch the velvety sage, and inhale the aroma of rosemary and lavender.
The trail works its way across the road to the woods where you’ll find more ransom garlic. You can stroll down the path listening to the beck and you will eventually come out onto the Ridge Hill Green. The trail then winds its way back to Claver Hill – passing a variety of fruit trees and wild herbage.
Words cannot express the flavours and the fun you can experience on this Nature Trail. Come and see for yourself. The grand opening day for the trail is April 15th at 1PM. There will be food, drink and Easter activities for children and adults.
Visit the event’s Facebook page to find out more.