Foraging

Spring Greens!

Eating seasonally is one of my favourite ways of feeling more aligned with earth’s cycles and come Spring I really start craving fresher, zingier and lighter meals with lots and lots of greens. And just as if Nature intended, our gardens and woodlands are bursting full of Spring greens, that nourish and cleanse our bodies after a heavy winter.

After consciously gardening to keep and enjoy wild edibles over the years, there has been plenty coming up over the past few weeks. They have filled our teapot and topped most of our dishes and both my mind and body are starting to feel lighter and clearer after the long Winter months.

One of our favourite ways to enjoy wild greens is in a pesto. It is simple, quick and delicious. We use it to dress salads, vegetables, pasta and potatoes. We don’t follow a recipe and embrace it varying each time but start by popping a big handful of greens into a blender along with a squeeze of lemon, some seeds (or nuts) a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper and I often add a handful of peas to give a nice freshness and sweetness.

We also add chopped greens to the top of almost any dish, or into soups, salads and pasta dishes.

Some are wonderful enjoyed in a fresh spring tea or cold water infusion. My favourite for this are Cleavers and the Nettles.

As with everything, once you get your eye in, identifying plants becomes almost second nature but it takes time to learn, we are always cautious, avoiding anything unless we are sure – there are poisonous lookalikes out there so cross reference, learn from someone and take your time – it is worth it. We still enjoy adding a few extra plants to our repertoire each year.


Here are just a few greens I use on a regular basis as they are local and abundant to me. They are often an important nectar source in early Spring so we only ever take a small proportion of what is growing leaving lots for the wildlife who depend on them. There are lots of other tasty greens not listed here and getting to know those in your garden is a good place to begin.

Botanicals

Mindful Jars

We wanted to introduce you to our newest creation, our Mindful Jar trio.

These little glass jars are full of homegrown and wild foraged botanicals intended to bring you a mindful moment at home, work or on the go.

Our senses have long been used in mindfulness & grounding practices. They offer us a route back to the present moment when our minds have wandered, our focus is lost or we are experiencing anxiety, worry or feel ungrounded.

By bringing our attention to what we can feel, smell and see in our surroundings unites us back to the present moment.

Smell in particular is a powerful sense and can impact our wellbeing. Certain smells can lift our mood, evoke positive memories or energize our bodies.

With this in mind we wanted to create a visual and aromatic aid that can support us with grounding and connecting with the present moment.


Our Mindful Jar trio includes:

  • Cedar to ground, protect & uplift
  • Lavender, Rose, wild Chamomile & Feverfew to calm, soothe & nurture
  • Pine, Lemon Verbena, Eucalyptus & Mint to revive, awaken & invigorate

You can find our Mindful Jar trio in our Etsy store now

Botanicals

Botanical Incense Blend

Welcome to Wild Fen’s signature Loose Incense blend; a celebration of our favourite plants that we have grown and foraged throughout the seasons.

It combines a truly magickal blend that holds the energies of each season, for a grounding aroma that helps us feel more connected and inspired. From the abundant flowers of Spring and Summer; Lilac, Hawthorn blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Feverfew, Mallow and Goldenrod. Herbs such as Bay, Rosemary, wild Mint, Sage, Marjoram, Thyme and wild Fennel and forest goodness such as Mugwort, Cedar, Pine, Spruce, Rowan and Willow. A combination of flower, leaf, bark and resins all home grown or locally foraged by us.

The incense blend can be used in a number of ways. For ceremonial use, it can be burned upon a charcoal disc. This allows the plants to smoulder and release their aromatic smoke and potent plant enegies. The charcoal does produce additional smoke so it is best used outdoors, or in a well ventilated area.

Our favourite way to enjoy this blend for everyday use is with a mesh incense burner, such as those used for resin burning. For a very gentle fragrance, the dry blend can be added to an incense burner (above a tealight candle) which will release the oils from the plants and emit a gentle calming scent.

Alternatively, you do not need to burn the blend to enjoy the plant energies. You can carry your tin with you for a grounding tool that can be breathed in to calm and relax you throughout the day.

We would love to hear how you use yours!

Using our mesh burner to smoulder our incense blend
Foraging

The Intuitive Art of Foraging

It has been an interesting foraging year for us. I have found myself feeling incredibly drawn to collecting certain plants – wild rose early on in the year, mugwort throughout the summer and wild oats as the summer progressed. There have also been other plants that despite their abundance and potential, for one reason or another we didn’t forage many/any this year – elderflower and rosehips stand out as two.

When I first began to discover just how many nutritious and healing plants grow all around us, life became an exciting and busy journey of researching, learning and (sustainably) hunting for plant treasure. Each walk would be an opportunity to gather some free food and medicine and we would spend our evenings experimenting with recipes and ways to preserve our harvest for the months ahead.

In those early years, I sometimes found myself gathering frantically, scared of missing a ripe and abundant patch of something that could have been stored for teas, or made into some healing potion. Experiencing a sense of fear at the thought of having to wait a whole year for its return if I missed a harvest.

What I have learned throughout this journey is that foraging takes time. It isn’t necessarily the finding and gathering of plants that takes too long, although sometimes multiple visits to a plant may be required to harvest it at its peak ripeness. It is the cleaning, preparing, drying and processing of plants in different ways that takes both time, energy and patience. Removing individual berries or flowers from stems, infusing and straining oils and vinegars, sterilising jars and equipment is a real labour of love (and occasionally hate- the sterilising part anyway!)

A life of foraging isn’t one of convenience necessarily. It takes time and the reward is vast. Slowing down and leaning towards a more intuitive way of gathering what we are drawn to maintains my enthusiasm and energy. I feel excitement at the possibilities of next year as I sync more with the pace of nature.

I would love to know if you can relate to the feeling of missing a plant harvest and what you have found yourself drawn to this year?

Foraging

Elderberry Oxymel

On these damp and cloudy days, I feel Autumn’s presence strongly. These days feel just right for concocting healing oxymels for the winter months ahead.

The name oxymel comes from the Greek word ‘oxymeli’ meaning acid and honey. It is a traditional herbal extraction, using a vinegar and honey to extract and preserve the potent goodness from an array of plants, that can then be taken as a medicine.

Not only do you get the goodness of the plants you are infusing, but you also get the healing properties of apple cider vinegar and the honey themselves. I have seen the honey substituted for maple syrup for a vegan recipe too.

Our first oxymel of the year was made with some very early but ripe foraged elderberries. They are packed full of vitamin C and have a wealth of properties that support the immune system, helping ease coughs throughout the winter months. We also teamed our elderberries with anti-viral herbs and spices, including fresh thyme, sage, grated ginger and dried elderflowers, tumeric and cloves, but these could be substituted for what herbs and spices you have available.

We simmered about 3 cups of elderberries with a cup of water and our herbs and spices gently to release the juice from the berries. After around 5 – 10 minutes we strained the juice through a sieve, ensuring that we pressed all of the pulp to get as much juice as possible out of the berries, before allowing it to cool. We then mixed 1 part juice with roughly 1 part raw apple cider vinegar and 1 part raw honey and bottled. The ratio of honey can be adjusted if you would prefer a sweeter taste.


Botanicals, Foraging

Spirit of the South Smudge Sticks

We are currently in the process of converting a van into our very own travelling home. We are around half way through our build now with our kitchen in place and took our very first trip in it a few weeks ago.

Our first stop was a visit to family down on the south coast for a lovely few days together. We then headed out west, further along the Jurassic coast to explore.

The area is steeped in myth and legend and it wasn’t long before I lost myself with so many beautiful wildflowers along the way.

I felt called to create a smudge stick that embodied the magical essence I experienced as I explored the ancient landscapes of the south.

I gathered some flowering wood Sage, that was growing ferociously in a beautiful woodland. Combined with some ancient & magical wildflowers including Yarrow, Red Clover, Mallow flowers and Meadowsweet I wrapped them in a Mullein leaf and finished with flowering heather.

All of the chosen plants are well known in traditional medicine for their healing and supportive energy. This smudge stick is intended to offer a touch of magic, with plants that ground, protect and help you return to yourself. (Please note these limited edition smudge sticks have now sold out.)

*As of 20/08/20 we have changed the name of our sticks to ‘Smoulder sticks.’ You can read more about our decision regarding this here.

Foraging, Wheel of the Year

Lammas Tea Blend

We hope that you have been able to find some time and space to connect with the new season of Lammas – also thought of as high Summer or the birth of Autumn.

One of the ways I like to connect to a new season is by creating a tea blend that seems to hold the energy of the season in the plants that I blend.

In celebration of Lammas and the abundance of edible & medicinal plants available at this time of year, we created this vibrant and flower filled mix that we enjoyed drinking in our garden around a fire last night. It was not only visually pleasing but delicious too!

Botanicals, Foraging

Nutritious Nasturtiums

We were gifted some lovely Nasturtium plants early in the season which we planted up in our herb garden. We are now greeted each morning with a wealth of the most vibrant orange flowers. Nasturtiums have been so easy to grow, requiring very little care. They are an excellent companion plant drawing aphids away from other more delicate plants.

The whole of the Nasturtium plant is edible adding a watercress-like pepperiness to dishes. We have particularly enjoyed topping soups and salads with flowers and leaves.

Nasturtiums have strong antibiotic properties helping to increase resistance to bacterial infections. They are extremely rich in Vitamin C and Iron, Manganese, Flavonoids and Beta Carotene all of which help support a healthy immune system.

Aswell as enjoying them fresh, we have started to gather some leaves and flowers to dry out to use in supportive tea blends throughout the Winter.

Botanicals

Yarrow and Rose bud Smudge Sticks

Yarrow feels especially abundant this year. This delicate yet mighty wildflower has been used extensively in herbal medicine due to its wealth of therapeutic properties. Ruled by Venus, Yarrow has also long been entwined with myth and magic. Perhaps most notably, the belief that if a handful of the plant was placed under a pillow, it would reveal a person’s future love mate within a dream.

Burning Yarrow is thought to bring courage, dispel fear and heal deep wounds. These qualities seemed to lend themselves to the creation on a Smudge Stick to encourage feelings of self love, connection and heart healing. Teamed with a whole rose bud to offer gentle nurturing and healing, Mallow flowers to protect and Lavender and wild Chamomile to ground, relax and help us to open our hearts.

This was a wonderful team of plants to work with. There are just two of these beauties now available in our Etsy shop.

*As of 20/08/20 we have changed the name of our sticks to ‘Smoulder sticks.’ You can read more about our decision regarding this here.

Botanicals

Abundance Smudge Sticks

In the approach to Lammas, as Summer reaches its height, we wanted to create a Smudge Stick that celebrates the rich abundance of the season. You may well have read my previous post about Goldenrod finding its way into my garden this year.

Goldenrod is extremely high in antioxidants and its Latin name Solidago translates as ‘to make whole or heal’. In folklore Goldenrod is believed to to bring luck and prosperity and encourage an abundant mindset. These qualities are believed to become more potent when the plant self seeds too!

After harvesting some during the waning moon I felt strongly that this would be the star of the show. Teamed with sun ruled Bay, refreshing Peppermint, powerful Red clover and vibrant Nasturtium flowers, this Smudge Stick intends to encourage feelings of abundance and prosperity.

Research suggests that burning herbs is a fast and effective method for delivering the therapeutic properties of a plant to an individual. The practice of burning dried plants has been carried out extensively across cultures and may be the earliest example of aromatherapy.

You can find out more about this beautiful smudge stick in our Etsy shop now.

*As of 20/08/20 we have changed the name of our sticks to ‘Smoulder sticks.’ You can read more about our decision regarding this here.