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The Urban Forager – what foraging means to me

Watershed Executive Chef Oliver Pratt talks passionately to Knowle West Media Centre about foraging & cooking with wild ingredients. Oliver hosted Wild Thing, the Food Connections Festival event at Knowle West media Centre.

“Although I didn’t know it back then I have been a forager all my life. It all started as a kid, walking in the woods, exploring, asking questions and looking at the vast array of plant life around me. Only being allowed to pick the things my parents said were safe to eat I was learning that food originated from the wild. As I got older so the outdoors became a challenge, often seeing how long we could live out in the woods and whether it was possible to survive off the land alone. The answer to that question was quite simply: No. With our limited knowledge and skills it was in fact exceptionally hard if not possible at all.

25 years on and I have a more holistic approach, picking up facts and information along the way from a range of sources has led me to one conclusion. Foraging is a primeval instinct deeply rooted in all of us, it has gone hand in hand with our evolutionary progression and mental development where we survived as a species by being able to identify and catalog the subtle differences in plants; their shape, texture, taste and smell and that by using and developing all of our senses to define what was edible and what was not. These days there is no need to forage for survival, food is farmed, packaged and even delivered to our door and the ancient art of being a hunter-gatherer is slowly being lost.

Or is it?

I now live in the city but wherever I go I find myself identifying a whole range of plants all fit for eating. Bay trees, rosemary, thyme, wild parsley, valerian, lavender, wild cabbage, mustard, horseradish, rosehip, hawthorn and elder to mention but a few and I realise that although the landscape has changed my ancient instincts have not: I am a modern day hunter-gather; I am an urban forager.

When asked what is it I enjoy about foraging then my answer comes from observing other people whilst on a wild camping trip to the Wye valley. Their fun and joy at immersing themselves in nature, the excitement as they discover a bounty of food that is edible; identifying it, picking it and taking it back to the camp to cook. It goes right back to our basic self, our basic being where we were connected to the land for survival and by doing that, by tapping into all our senses and using them it feels good.

If foraging helps us stay connected to the land, appreciate it more and as a result help preserve it then that is a great thing. ”

 

 

Foraging Chef Oliver Pratt

 

What we’re dreaming of in 2015

Bristol Maker Lab is one of the big ideas dreamed up in our Do What You Love programme – we hope it will be a place for everyone to make their own products and become entrepreneurs. Bristol Maker Lab will have the very latest equipment, like 3D printers and laser cutters, with experts on hand to show people how to use them. It will be open to the public so that people can start designing and making things to sell. There’ll be a programme of classes about how to make great things using the equipment – anything from jewellery to robots to spare parts for washing machines. We’ve made a lovely brochure explaining how it will all work, which you can download here: Bristol Maker Lab For more details contact Hazel or Justin.

 

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Jodie’s story

“A weekly Knowle West sewing group is looking for more women to join in and earn money doing something they enjoy. Earlier this year I saw a leaflet for an event called ‘Sew Clever’, and I thought ‘bonus: there’s a crèche at Knowle West Children’s Centre!’ It was half term, so I was keen to go along and have a few hours to myself.

I met a lovely sewing tutor, Julie Ellison, who showed us how to make tote bags out of recycled banners. Julie explained the enterprise idea: make bags and sell them at Arnolfini. The bags are selling so well that she needs help to make more – an opportunity for the makers to earn some extra money. You can make up to £5 per bag: £1.50 for cutting the outline shape and £3.50 for sewing it together.

This has developed into a weekly group through the “Do What You Love” programme, which is a partnership between Knowle West Media Centre and re:work. I went along to the group because I enjoy sewing and being creative and my children were in nursery and school at the time, so it was a perfect opportunity for me.”

(Jodie Gardner)

For the Love of Bread – new film about Knowle West’s Bread Group

Find out more about bread making in Knowle West – watch the new Baking Bread film on YouTube.

The Bread Group get together every Thursday at Knowle West Health Park to bake and sell their popular bread and to socialise. They love it – and they welcome anyone to join and learn. The Bread Group are being championed by Knowle West Media Centre’s ‘Do What You Love’ Green and Digital Business programme.

The film was made by students of FdA Digital Media Production at City of Bristol College as a Community Liaison Production.

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Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
Bristol
BS4 1NL
+44 (0) 117 903 0444
enquiries@kwmc.org.uk

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