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Sat 18 June, 1-4: Wild hogweed asparagus

Posted: June 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , | No Comments »

baby common and giant hogweed

Boom! It’s that great tasting hogweed. Never heard of it? You don’t need to hear about it, just eat it. It’s one of our top most delicious wild foods.

Come on, we got another wild food workshop all lined up. We’ll do a little studying, to tell it apart from giant hogweed (heracleum mantegazzianum), which is poisonous to touch. It gives you full on peeling, blistering sunburn to make you feel like a proper Brit on tour in August. Then, onceonce that’s worked up an appetite in you and put you in the mood for food, we’ll steam the flower buds and serve them with butter/margarine and lemon juice.

The thrilling photo above shows young common hogweed (heracleum sphondylium), which is all there on the Grow Heathrow site, in the top left, alongside its poisonous Giant cousin in the bottom right. If you want to swot up beforehand, check out these tidal waves of fact that’ll make you very, very brainy.

So if you want to not have peeling sunburn but to eat something that tastes like asparagus, and let’s face it – who hasn’t been searching for that yin yang combo in life – you can either get some normal asparagus or come to the workshop.


Sun 22 May, 1-4pm: Wild salad workshop

Posted: May 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , | No Comments »

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If you’ve hung out at Grow Heathrow in the spring you might have eaten from our salads which, unlike the Beatles’ self-important claim, are what is genuinely bigger than Jesus. So what makes them so big? So huge, if you will?

Well, the answer is linden (tilia spp.) leaves. These mild flavoured, slightly thick leaves are just bursting into leaf now, at the start of May, and will get large enough to harvest in a few weeks. They’re in season while they’re still lime green and see-through and before they become darker green and tough. The tree is also known as lime but has nothing to do with the citrus fruit that brought us mojitos and shaking limes in coconuts. They’re everywhere lining streets and parks in west London, and it’s quick to harvest bucketloads and mix them in a salad with the stronger flavours that are much more common in wild foods, for example wild garlic (allium ursinum) or sour, lemony sorrel (rumex acetosa).

From 1 till 4 on Sunday 22 May, we’ll kick off with an ID walk, learning or recapping some of the common springtime wild salads such as chickweed (stellaria media), garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata), oxeye daisy (leucanthemum vulgare), and common poisonous plants – god knows there’s enough hemlock (conium maculatum) around on site. As hemlock was good enough to kill Socrates, it’s definitely good enough to do us some mischief, so it’s worth taking a moment to snatch sideways glances at with wide eyes and thumping hearts while we fearfully fill our humungous salad pot.

Then we’ll enjoy eating the salad. Sounds like a good day, doesn’t it? I’m definitely going. See you there if you like salad. If you don’t like salad, you’ll be underwhelmed.


Wellness Gardening at Grow Heathrow

Posted: September 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Foraging, Growing Group | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Perhaps on one of the last sunny days of the summer a Hounslow based gardening group visited Grow Heathrow to join in with creative gardening workshops.

Together we gathered herbs to make herbal teas, learning about the health benefits of the different plants that grow wild (and even sometimes as weeds in your garden!) Thus the morning started with enjoying cups of tea and absorbing the essence of healing herbs in Grow Heathrow’s meadow.

Before the group had arrived, volunteers from Grow Heathrow explored the site finding edible flowers and filling a treasure chest with calendula, rose petals, chive flowers, borage, mallow and many more ready for the main session of the morning: edible flower mandala making.

Manda 3

Mandala

In our straw-bale house, everyone got together with plates to make edible flower mandalas upon. It’s surprising how many different flowers are good to eat, together we talked about the flowers, how lovely they were and started to make patterns on the plate. By the end each mandala had a different characteristic reflecting the artistic flair of the gardeners. Now, for the best bit: eating the mandala! By design, mandalas are never built to last, instead the fleeting beauty reminds us of the impermanence of things; by focusing on the flowers whilst creating the mandalas, and then erasing the patterns by eating them we are also experiencing the bloom and wilt cycle that leads to the flowers making seeds.

We hope at Grow Heathrow, the Hounslow Gardening Group received seeds of inspiration to see flowers are more than ornaments and weeds are more useful than just a nuisance! Everything that grows has a use.

 

Mandala 2


Sat 5 Sep, 1-5pm: Elderberry vinegar workshop

Posted: July 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: , , | No Comments »

foraging workshop

Along with steamed hogweed buds (and blackberries), the other favourite foraged edible at Grow Heathrow is elderberry vinegar. Come on Saturday 5 September from 1 till 5 and join us.

As always, we’ll big you up and thank you loads for any/as many clean empty jars as you can bring :). So – elderberries. This widespread, delicious wild food has been one of Britain’s best loved hedgerow treasures for centuries, brewed into a unique smooth, rich and port-like wine with a flavour unmatched by anything on supermarket shelves (see recipe). The tree (sambucus nigra) is easy to identify if you’ve smelled the sweet elderflowers around May and June; they turn into drooping clusters of shiny purplish-black elderberries hanging down from purple stems from mid August till October.

Its best kept secret is definitely elderberry balsamic vinegar. This is fun, quick to make and leaves you with a result  that transforms cheap vinegar into posh balsamic: a bit like Jesus turning water into wine, but more directly useful for climbing the greasy pole of Britain’s entrenched system of class hierarchy.

Strip the berries from the stems using your hands or a fork; compost the stems. Take a litre of British cider vinegar (ie, the perfect amount for a small portion of chips) and add a kilo of elderberries. Chuck them together in a covered stainless steel, glass or enamelled container for a week. Then strain, put the liquid on the hob, let it simmer for ten minutes and bottle. Now order a small portion of chips to go with your litre of vinegar and enjoy. Congratulations: the balsamic vinegar in front of you means you’re going up in the world!

Living in broken rotting greenhouses has its perks. What plant books flatteringly call ‘wasteland species’ may not have the looks but as we like to say here, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And autumn is coming up, with our Garden of Eden maze of elderberries and blackberries.

You can also check out the Urban Harvest info on eating elderberries.


Bottled blackberries: Fri 22 Aug, 1-4pm

Posted: August 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Grow Heathrow

The highlight of our foraging year.

If Grow Heathrow hasn’t been evicted, we’re going to bottle loads of blackberries. Bring clean empty jars and you will earn respect, win honour and know true righteousness.  It’ll be the tail end but we should get lots of juicy buckets. You can taste some of last year’s (they’re great) and take some of this year’s jars home so you can fish for compliments from your family.

If we have been evicted, we’ll just go and eat blackberries. To be honest it might turn into just eating blackberries either way. See you there!


Pickled elderberries: Fri 18 Jul, 1 – 4

Posted: July 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: | No Comments »

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Living in broken rotting greenhouses has its perks.

What plant books flatteringly call ‘wasteland species’ may not have the looks but as we like to say here, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And autumn is coming up, with our Garden of Eden maze of elderberries and blackberries. There’s even a volunteer from abroad staying at Grow Heathrow at the moment who despite getting to know all of us, the site and what we do there has privately admitted she’s now really there for the blackberries; after they finish she might be off to somewhere else.

On Friday 18th July, from 1pm to 4 we’ll be pickling green elderberries. We pickled loads of ripe and less ripe purple elderberries last year but they just weren’t amazing – they taste a lot of vinegar and a little bit of that rich, slightly unpleasant ‘elder smell’ that you get when you crush elder leaves. You can try them if you come round (no need to thank us). But the green ones we pickled got gobbled up with chips as comfort food in the dark winter – crunchier and less strong. So this year we know how to prepare to liven those winter moments when there’s ten men sat around the old wood burning stove and someone brings out a guitar with four strings and delights in another repeat singing ‘Wagon Wheel’. Green pickled elderberries for hot chips (and daal)! (You can also check out the Urban Harvest info on eating elderberries)

If you want to join the party, be there.


Elderflower cordial: Fri 13, 1-3pm

Posted: June 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Foraging | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Elderflowers and red clover

Yep, it’s that time of year again. The field by the old garden centre is full of red clover, and the rotting greenhouse frames are burping up sprays of elderflowers.

We’re gonna make some elderflower cordial. Be there. If you remember, grab a couple of clean empty jars or small glass bottles.


Smoothie Bikes with Com.cafe

Posted: May 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Energy, Residents | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Yet another amazing day of making homemade smoothies on the bicycle powered blender with Transition Heathrow the Com.Cafe!

Com.Cafe come to Grow Heathrow for seed sewing Thursday 29th May

 

smoothie smoothie2

 

 

 


Poisonous carrot cousins and wild hogweed ‘asparagus’: Fri 16 May, 1-4pm

Posted: May 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: , | No Comments »

Foraging at Grow Heathrow

April was a loads of fun; 30 of us came down and learnt how to identify the mustard family (brassicaceae), which has no poisonous plants, as well as the springtime linden (tilia spp.) leaves that are offering massive free salads all over London. We also spent some time considering the risks of foraging, codes of conduct and the law. A big thank you to everyone who came, all inspiringly enthusiastic, and also to our favourite photographer Jonathan Goldberg for these kickass snaps.

Now it’s May, the first few hogweed (heracleum sphondylium) flowers are just beginning to bud. Our site is covered in hogweed, having been derelict and neglected for so long, which means we’re able to steam pots full of dozens of hogweed flower buds every day in summer. Like an abundant wild asparagus, it’s gobbled up. And even if we didn’t live in a sea of it, it’s handy that each plant will live an extra year if all of its flowers are harvested.

But hogweed is part of the carrot family (apiaceae), which contains deadly poisonous species. Many people have heard of one cousin of the carrot, toxic giant hogweed (heracleum mantegazzianum),  for the extreme sunburn rashes it causes when touched. The rashes can become scars that last years, and there’s plenty of giant hogweed growing along Cranford Lane as well as the Grand Union canal west of West Drayton.

We’ll start the workshop off with some very civilised nibbles – hogweed stems with hummus: they’re like a refreshing, slightly citrussy celery. We’ll learn how to tell the difference between toxic giant hogweed and edible common hogweed, as well as how to look for warning signs that wild plants may be in the dangerous carrot family. There’ll be some fun activities in pairs and groups to recap the day as well as handouts to take home. All that brain strain will be rewarded with a hike round the site harvesting, and then steaming the goods.

You’ll need to book in advance to be able to take part as this Month the workshop will have a cap of 12 foragers to be able to move quickly and fit all of our activities in. The suggested donation for the workshop is £8 for people on high or average wages and £3 for low waged and unwaged people. All donations go 100% to Grow Heathrow, paying for bike workshop tools, rice and bog roll. If money’s not ideal, you can donate your time washing up :D

 Book by leaving a comment here with your first name, which should take 10 seconds.  If you don’t have internet access then just let a resident know your name face to face or on the phone. You can also check out our travel info and videos about the site.

I’ve been enjoying a couple of foragers’ web pages a lot recently, Chester-based Eden Wild Food and London-based Ipso-phyto. They’ve got fantastic seasonal photos of local wild food, so check them out if you like the sound of that. They also both offer guided walks and workshops.


WORKSHOP WEEK THIRD WEEK OF THE MONTH

Posted: March 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Events, Foraging, Gardening Club | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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In addition to our weekly Growing Sunday and Community Workday Thursdays, we now have Workshop Week on the third weekend of every month and week lead up. Come down and join us for:

Foraging Friday (Friday of 3rd weekend of month)

Bike Workshop (Third Saturday of the month)

Introduction to growing workshop (Third Sunday of the month – now fully booked)

See EVENTS page for exact dates and CONTACT page to RSVP

Foraging Friday

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Come and find out about what’s growing all around us and how we can use it in our daily lives. Elderflower fritters, spring green salads, scrumping apples….

All ages and experiences welcome!

1-3pm

Please phone Rose or Sam on to RSVP 07890751568

Bike workshop

Bikes in the bikes space

Learning together how to repair and maintain your bikes with tools and friendly support.

All ages and experience welcome

12-4pm

 

*workshops are donations based