Don’t miss Clydesdale’s Foraging Fortnight in May

Foraging for food...learning about the wild bounty that Clydesdale has to offer proved a big success last year. (Pic: Chris Watt Photography)
Foraging for food...learning about the wild bounty that Clydesdale has to offer proved a big success last year. (Pic: Chris Watt Photography)

In the past, parents and grandparents would have taught their families how to make the most of the land.

However, in the fast-paced world we now live in, not everyone knows about the nature on their doorstep.

Last year, an event was staged to rectify that and get people in Clydesdale away from their TV and computer screens and out into the great outdoors.

With Leader funding from the EU and Scottish Government backing, Foraging Fortnight was first held from August 31 to September 15 last year.

Some 11 events were staged here and 125 people took part, with a 75 per cent level of attendance.

It is hoped the expanded programme this year, from May 2 to May 17, will encourage even more locals to get on board.

And leading the charge is Wendy Barrie, the event manager who co-ordinates the fortnight in five rural areas across Scotland, as well as running her own cookery classes from her studio near Aberdour, Fife.

Wendy said: “Leader funding is used to improve economic development in rural areas.

“I thought it was a great concept and was fortunate enough that my pitch for the tender was successful.

“It very much ties in with the cookery courses I run, which are based on local and sustainable produce.

“From a starting point of zero last year, we were delighted that so many Clydesdale folk participated but we’re hoping even more will join in this year.

“The concept is very much to get people more in touch with nature and their surroundings. That can be learning about wild food and knowing what to pick and when.

“However, it’s also a chance for people to get away from their TV and computer screens and improve their well-being.

“Sometimes, us Scots spend too much time huddled around screens. We need to be communing with nature a bit more!

“It’s not about raping the landscape for a fortnight, but rather getting people to recognise the plants and trees in their local area.

“This is information our grandparents or parents would have known but has been lost over time.

“It’s also about giving people who are very busy a chance to take a pause and those who have too much time on their hands a chance to consider their well-being.

“And there are events for all ages and abilities too.”

The initial programme will be launched later this month, with further details issued in the spring.

Yvonne Howley, project development officer for the Lanarkshire Leader programme, said: “I was delighted with the success of our first Foraging Fortnight.

“Events appealed not only to local communities but drew in visitors too. It’s a way of showcasing our region’s beautiful rural landscape.

“I look forward to revealing the full line-up and am sure it will capture the imagination of people across Lanarkshire and beyond.”

Success stories from last year will return, among them a series of events at Carmichael Estate hosted by owners Andrew and Terri Carmichael.

Wendy said: “The estate was fantastic last year and they’re hoping to build on that this year.

“Terri led a Wild Tastes foraging walk which was fully booked. People picked produce and took it back to the bistro where the chef and I did a double act creating dishes, followed by a tasting.

“It was the first time they’d done a foraging event but it was hugely popular so they’re doing two events this year to try to meet demand.”

Clyde Valley Orchard will host a walk to tie in with its spring blossom weekend, also following on from last year’s successful event.

Foragers Graham Whitehouse and Amy Rankine will also return to lead foraging walks.

And Lanark’s Castlebank Horticultural Centre will be staging another event, following its wonderful world of wildflowers workshop last year.

Wendy is also hoping to continue her partnership with Ramsay’s in Carluke.

She said: “They kindly allowed me to set up a stall in their courtyard last year to lead a cookery demo, using Ramsay’s pork and food that was foraged locally.

“I’m hoping they will be kind enough to allow me to do so again!”

It is hoped even more local venues will now sign up for Foraging Fortnight.

Wendy added: “We’d love to hear from venues and restaurants or cafes who’d be keen to take part.

“We’ll launch events on our website at the end of this month. The sooner people get on board, the quicker it will be publicised!”

If you would like to get involved, email wendy@wendybarrie.co.uk or for more information visit www.foragingfortnight.co.uk.