Picking wild fruit from hedgerows, or foraging as it’s known, is a past-time I’m sure we can all remember from our childhood.
The time honoured favourite fruit for picking has always been blackberries and as they are due to ripen later this month I thought I would set out some un-written rules for picking wild fruit.
There is an astonishing assortment of wild fruit if you know what you’re looking for, like blackberries, black currants, sloes, brambles, wild plums, cherry plums, bullaces, elderberries or apples and there are recipes to suit every taste.
Why not try a simple recipe like my no patience blackcurrant jelly.
Unfortunately these days many children grow up only recognising fruit if it’s in plastic wrapping, if they recognise it at all.
It’s such a shame, going home with tummy ache from eating more fruit than you take home, with clothes covered in juice and lacerated arms was half the fun of a family day out in August … is it time for euthenasia when you start to sound like your Granny?!
We grow an assortment of wild fruit in our hedgerows around the farm to encourage wildlife and I love to see a family parking the car and “sneaking” up to the hedgerows to pick fruit … I think the fear of an angry farmer catching you is half the fun, it brings your childhood flooding back.
However there are times I’m tempted to go and give someone a piece of my mind … hence my unwritten rules:
1. Most land owners don’t want strangers knocking every day asking permission to pick fruit. A general rule is to feel free to pick from the outside of hedgerows but if you want to enter fields or gardens then ask permission.
2. Wild fruit also feeds wildlife so never take all the fruit from a bush or tree.
3. Only take what you need and leave some fruit to ripen for other foragers.
4. Don’t let bored children or dogs disturb grazing animals.
5. Don’t break branches just to get at that juicy fat berry at the top.
6. If you have permission to enter fields always close gates behind you, going in and coming out.
7. Never leave litter or empty carrier bags in or around hedgerows.
8. Take an extra bag and give something back to nature, by picking up any litter you find in the hedgerow.
If you follow these few simple rules you are always welcome to come and forage around our land.
If you’re not sure when to go foraging the Fruit Expert has a good quick guide to when to harvest fruit and you will find wild fruit among the lists.
For your enjoyment I’ve added a link to a skit written by Miles Kington in the Independent in 2006. If you’ve never read it trust me and go have a read, it’s really funny (perhaps because it’s absurdly close to the truth). The article is called How to safely pick wild fruit, the New Labour way.