Episode 1: Food for free: foraging in summer
Hello, and welcome to the Ashwell audio tour Episode 1. Food for free: foraging in summer. My name is Sally Fletcher and I have lived in Ashwell for eighteen years. I wrote this audio tour about some of my favourite spots to gather wild fruits in Ashwell and also to share some of the village’s history with you along the way.
Most people ignore the amazing hedgerows we have around Ashwell but they are full of interesting plant species that are an incredible resource for thrifty cooks. I am fond of elder, bramble, blackthorn, dog rose, and hawthorn, which provide seasonal goodies from May through to October. But by far my most favourite hedgerow fruits are the wild plums that grow in abundance around the village.
You are welcome to collect Ashwell’s hedgerow fruits but please be mindful that these lovely old hedges deserve to be treated with care. Don’t bend and break branches or be greedy in your gathering. The hedges also provide food for birds, insects and animals so make sure you are only collecting ripe fruits. The fruits mentioned in this audio-tour ripen at different times from early August through to late October. Check the ground for fallen ripe fruits and berries, if there are none it’s too early to pick. Most importantly – as with all wild plants and fungi – be certain of what you are picking and how to prepare it safely. If you are unsure, do not risk a stomach ache (or worse) and leave well alone.
Our walk begins on the eastern side of the village, at the Ashridge Farm caravan park. We will travel along Ashwell Street to the western end of the village and then back again via a short section of the High Street. It takes roughly an hour to complete. If you need to drive to the start, there is a small area you can leave your car just beyond the caravan park entrance.
Pause this audio tour until you have reached the Ashridge Farm caravan park then re-start it.