The London Orchard Project is an initiative promoting orchards and fruit trees in London. They are working with Londoners to plant and harvest apple, pear and plum trees all over the city, and help us all to rediscover the pleasure of eating home-grown fruit.
They are launching a new project, which aims to uncover existing orchards in London, and they’re looking for volunteers from all over London who have a bit of time available to help out with this project over the next six months.
The London Orchard Project have a database of potential orchard sites and need people to check whether they are indeed orchards and, if they are, to survey them to establish what state they are in. The survey data will be captured on a database so that we can get a much better picture of the state of London’s existing orchards and start to harvest them where possible!
You can see the map of orchards here. There are a lot potential sites in the Heathrow area, so when the sun comes out we’re going to hop on our bikes and go on an orchard hunt.
As we tuck into rosehip syrup to ward off the winter colds, and experiment by pickling green elderberries with lemon verbena, we have to say that the Harvest Heathrow fortnight of free wild food workshops has been an massive success.
Even the guelder rose marmalade was wonderful; the lemon zest completely masked the nutritious guelder rose berries’ telltale stench of wet dog. That said, until we added the lemon zest everyone who came through the kitchen had their own theory explaining the cheesy aroma. Two people headed straight to the sink to see if it was blocked, one person’s eyes darted to the floor to check there was no cat vomit, and one poor soul even asked aloud if it was them that needed a shower.
Foraging Fridays are becoming Foraging Funday Mondays, or at least they will once we think of a name that doesn’t sound like it’s been taken from a prime time CBeebies show. Which autumn and winter wild foods would you like to learn about? Lacto-fermented horseradish leaves? Chewy fruit leathers? Pickled nasturtium seeds? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to scout out the local parks for ingredients and run a Foraging Funday Monday on your chosen plant. Sam & Amay
As the autumn starts to blow in, the jewels of the hedgerow start to catch the eye and here at Grow Heathrow we keep a very close eye on the abundance of wild food which grows around the Heathrow villages.
Our weekly Foraging Friday event has been a huge success and a wonderful way to regularly observe, harvest, make preserves, fresh meals and medicinal remedies from the plants growing around us – from dandelions in early spring this year to the dark elder and black berries which grow in masses around us this autumn. Its time to take advantage of autumns bounty and get as many people as possible skilled up with a a fortnight of foraging!
Please come and join us for one or more of the events taking place at Grow Heathrow, whether your an experienced wild food gatherer or completely new to it all come down to share, learn and hopefully take away something from the harvest as well as plenty of knowledge of what grows around us.
If you can only make one event we are having a big scrumping apple day on Friday 5th October exploring and havesting Harmondsworth barn’s old orchard and other apple and pear trees in the area. On Saturday 6th October we will will sort the apples, pressing some into juice for drinking and cider making and keeping the best for winter stores, apple rings, chutney and jams with a harvest soup for lunch, bring your whole family to this one – was a massive success 2 years ago – we want to make it bigger and better this year with as many kids as possible!
Heathrow village apple havest 2010
Below is the an outline of the timetable for the fortnight – all changeable depending on who comes and what they want to forage, all free events.
The whole family can learn to make seed bombs, nettle soup, rosehip syrup, pickled spicy seeds and horseradish sauce for free. And what a delicious dinner those ingredients would make together! Take home a free nettle bracelet you’ll have made yourself; it’s softer than cotton and harder-wearing. I promise it won’t sting! (Gloves are provided.)
If you wish to stay over night at Grow Heathrow or for a few days we have limited indoor sleeping places so let us know before hand or bring a tent as there’s plenty of room for camping! The forages will always start from the Grow Heathrow site, if you need directions to us you can find them here
Elderflowers and red clover
2pm – 5pm
Wild food walk around Grow Heathrow, discussion of foraging law and safety, and make and taste nettle soup
2pm – 5pm
10am – 12pm. 12pm: join bike tour
Seed bombs. At 12pm, join CAAT’s bike tour (see below)
10am – 5pm
Nettle bracelets and nettle soup
2pm – 5pm
2pm – 5pm
Guelder rose jelly
5pm – 7pm
Dried fruit: hawthorn berry leather
2pm – 5pm
Apple and pear scrumping with trailers and panniers
10am – 5pm
10am – 5pm
2pm – 5pm
Preservation including pickling
2pm – 5pm
Wild food cycle to Cranford Park
2pm – 5pm
Rosehip syrup and dried rosehip tea
No need to book – just drop by.
On the second day of Harvest Heathrow, and we cried and cried. We wailed and sobbed, tears streamed endlessly, unstoppably like the Ganges. We were grating horseradish for horseradish sauce, and we now have a vat that could feed 100 people purely on horseradish. This experience put us off biological warfare, and also conflict in general.
So on Saturday 29th, we will be joining CAAT’s cycle ride. At 10am, we’ll make seed “bombs”. Seed bombs are a mix of clay and useful seeds, which can be thrown onto barren land to plant marigolds or nasturtiums. Then at 12pm we’ll get the train into Paddington and cycle to 11 Strand, WC2N 5RJ, where the bike tour begins!
A Dandelion you weed out of your lawn. Nettles growing tall out of a crack in the paving. An Elder tree you always notice walking down the road…There’s too much growing wild for us not to explore and harvest!
Here in Sipson we have a whole backland which has exploded in a most beautiful spring green, over the coming seasons every week, we will be exploring, learning, gathering, cooking, preserving, drying, brewing, drinking, eating Celebrating natures wild abundance at our Foraging Friday sessions at or around the Grow Heathrow site.
Gathering at 1pm fo lunch.
2pm we will head out to the hedgerows, fields and forests surrounding the Heathrow villages, from the beautiful Cranford Park to Harmondsworth Lake – bring your foraging bags, notebooks and wild food knowledge.
Each week we will pick 1-2 plants to concentrate on learning where they grow, when to harvest, what to make with them, their medicinal properties, folklore and myth of these magical plants many people call weeds.
Returning to the Grow Heathrow site in the later part of the afternoon we will create something with what we have foraged; maybe an evening meal, a herbal Tincture, a pickle or preserve, syrups, wines, beers, teas….anything we want. Finishing at 5:30pm we will all take away a wealth of knowledge and a jar of something delicious to share with community, family and friends.
The common Dandelion we will discover this Friday
Starting this Friday 11th May at 10am we will start with a spring herbal tonic and a quick introduction to some ideas around wild food foraging. At 2pm we will leave Grow Heathrow and discover the well know Dandelion with fresh eyes.
Taraxacum officinale, a common weed every child knows for its right happy yellow flowers and ‘clock’ seed heads which we can mainly find in grassy areas through out spring and summer. Did you know their flower buds make a punchy pickle very similar to capers and a their yellow petals make a lovely refreshing spring cordial? Well come and join us in making these treats and also learn of its abundant medicinal properties… a nettle and thyme soup for lunch?
With this knowledge we can all tap into the lives of our ancestors for who gathering wild foods and medicine was central to their lives, communities and respect for the wilderness. In our city lives we’ve lost connection with what’s growing all around us, no longer will we ignore and be frustrated with the ‘weeds’ we find in our garden – we will use them, appreciate their benefits, always for free.
This Saturday, on 6th November, Grow Heathrow is hosting its very own bonfire night. There will be a big fire and lots of merriment. How is this any different to any other evening on site I hear you say. Well let me tell you … there will be apples hanging from pieces of string that one can attempt to eat without the use of their hands, apple bobbing, toffee apples and apple conker fights.
No this is not just an excuse to get rid of all the apples we scrumped. We shall be burning effigies not of Guido Fawkes, a misunderstood revolutionary, but of things we have much more rational distain for such as David Cameron, Aeroplanes, riot police …
Participation in the make of this evening is whole heartedly encouraged. So, please bring along your own effigy, fireworks, booze etc and preparation will be happening throughout the day on Saturday so do come along early to help preparations if you can.
Grey skies and a pretty constant dribble of rain started our Heathrow Villages day of scrumping, but this was not to deter us! A hot vegetable soup was made from pumpkins and potatoes from the Grow Heathrow veg beds ready for our soggy return from the fruit trees and we set off with wellies, nets, bikes and trailers to our first location; Harmondsworth Great Barn Orchard.
Eight beautiful old variety apple trees make a small orchard in Harmondsworth behind the old barn and St Mary’s church, where the creator of the Cox’s Orange Pippin apple is buried. Having been told these laden trees tend not to be picked anymore there was massive excitement and energy from the scrumping crew to arrive and sample both the cooking and eating varieties. Climbing, shaking and picking apples from the trees and ground we had more than we could carry with the trees still looking as full as they had when we arrived!
Long time Heathrow resident Ken had great knowledge of fruit and nut trees in the area and showed us to a walnut tree in the next field. To someone whithout this local knowledge, it could seem there were no walnuts around but pushing aside the carpet of nettles surrounding the tree: treasure appeared! The field was also covered in yarrow, a medicinal white flowering herb great as a tea for the cold season; a bouquet now hangs in the Grow Heathrow community kitchen drying out ready for use. With 2 bags of walnuts and the yarrow we headed back to site to have some hot lunch and drop off the goods.
Revived and ready for more we scrumped three apple trees next to the site in Sipson and then headed down Sipson Lane to harvest a pear tree heavy with fruit on the side of the road. On our walk down to Harlington hawthorn berries, rosehips and damson plums were also collected from the hedgerows. A final pop to the Airplot to collect some apples from a cooking variety and we were ready to go through and sort the fruit of our labour.
A sorting station in the second greenhouse had been set up so we could separate the blemished fruit from the storable before the attack of the fruit flies. Sorting, drying and stacking the good fruit and then peeling the bruised and cut fruit to stew were the afternoon’s activities.
By sharing the local knowledge of what we already have around us we hope our community will come together in pride to defend it from all future threats.
This day focused on the abundance of fruit trees in the Heathrow villages, we hope to get more residents out and collecting in the coming weeks while the branches are still heavy.
Gather a group of friends and neighbours in your communities and go out in your area (or come to grow Heathrow and scrump here), see what you can find.
Let’s look past the supermarket shelves to the hedgerows!
Next installment is preserving and storing all this wonderful fruit for the winter months; Saturday 23rd October starting 11am come share recipes with us (and a apple press is in the making; Sipson cider!)
“Inspiration and vigor and enthusiasm such as this is rarely encountered in government organised projects and frankly any enterprise that is led from the ground up by dedicated individuals is to be applauded and encouraged. These young people are showing us how to take responsibility for our environment by clearing and tending the land rather than let it sit empty.” by DIANNA HARVEY-KUMMER, FAMILY MEMBER