One of the main things about getting involved in a Transition Initiative for me was the realisation that I might actually be able to share some of what I know with others who might be interested. In the meetings of the Norwich Heart and Soul, Arts, Culture and Well-Being group I’d been attending, for example, I was keenly aware of sitting in a room with all sorts of different people, every one of us with something of value we could do or share.
I’d been working with plants, especially wild and medicinal ones, for many years and in many places. So I organised a Reconnection with Nature walk with Charlotte in coastal Suffolk where we live and invited fellow Transitioners from Transition Norwich and Sustainable Bungay, where we’ve been most active, to spend the day with us getting to know some of the neighbourhood plants. The main thrust of the day was to inspire others to get in touch with the plants and trees growing where they live.
We based the day on three Transition plants, Nettle, Cleavers and Dandelion – traditional herbs used to spring clean the system and help the body “transit” from winter into Spring. The walk itself was an introduction to many food and hedgerow medicines such as burdock, hawthorn, rosehip, ground ivy, damson and garlic mustard, and a guide to the main native trees. The day also featured a slide show and a delicious shared lunch, including Nettle Soup and a Cleavers Plus Tea.
Setting off down the lane. There were young alexanders growing in profusion. This is when they can be used as a pot vegetable. To be honest I find them a bit, well not that tasty. But they are edible and maybe there are better ways to cook them than I have tried so far. When the flowers come out in early summer the smell is lovely, like honey.
Remember to be sure of correctly identifying any plant before you eat it. Going out with someone who knows the plants is always the best bet. Here I am showing fellow transitioners Butcher’s Broom, a native and prickly plant in the lily family, aka knee holm.
Eighteen people took part in a lively and enjoyable event. Karen told us the next week that she had spent the rest of the weekend totally immersed in getting to know the wild plants in her neighbourhood, seeing cleavers everywhere and tasting all sorts of plants she never knew were edible before.
by Mark Watson, originally posted on This Low Carbon Life, 2009
Photos: Tincture and Book Table by Josiah Meldrum; Discovering Butcher’s Broom by Helen Simpson Slapp; Signature Oak by Karen Alexander