Category Archives: Foraging

Trondheim Food Festival Renaissance Salad

Following my 2002 renaissance salad at the botanical garden in Trondheim in 2002 (see, I followed this up at the Trondheim Food Festival (Matfestivalen) on 5th August 2006 with an 80 species medieval salad:

Extreme winter record salad










Proof one more time that north is best for growing a diversity of tasty salad greens ;)  Presenting (and claiming) my new world winter salad diversity record, a salad with over 140 ingredients all harvested locally without using any additional energy than is available in my house and cellar (no greenhouse; no freezer; no fermenting involved and only dried fruit and seed used apart from fresh vegetables!). Despite the snow cover I was able to harvest some 20-30 edibles outside. More on how this can be done will be the subject of a separate post!

The salad was presented and eagerly devoured by those who had bought tickets for the Gourmet Cinema event on 9th March 2017 as part of the Trondheim Kosmorama Film Festival! It went so quickly, I didn’t even get a taste myself!

The film was followed by a Food talk with a panel including the film’s director Michael Schwarz, the head chef at Credo Heidi Bjerkan, myself and Carl Erik Nielsen Østlund, the owner of the biodynamic organic farm that supplies much of the food to Credo, moderated by Yoshi!

As Michael Pollan concludes in the film:
Eat Food, Not too much and (as many as possible) mostly vegetables!

The day before, I had prepared a 105 ingredient salad for the festival dinner at Credo restaurant ( While preparing that salad, I made a second salad with the same 105 ingredients…and then added almost 40 additional ingredients that I hadn’t had time to harvest the day before!


Two month early spring foragables at 63.5N

It was one of the mildest December / January periods here since records began in the 1800s, no snow at sea level and no snow forecast, 3-4 cm of froszen soil at the surface and that’s it. Temperatures are currently like early April and early April foragables are now available!

Dandelion crowns (løvetann)
Lesser celandine (vårkål – the Norwegian name means spring greens!), edible until flowers appear
Lesser celandine (vårkål – the Norwegian name means spring greens!), edible until flowers appear
Hedge mustard (løkurt / Alliaria petiolata) with Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel / gjøksyre)
Primula veris (cowslip / hagenøkleblom)


Wild edibles in SW England in late February

In late February last year I was in Cornwall for a short visit and had a head start on the year’s wild edible foraging with two less hardy species in particular that I’ve struggled to grow in the past….Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum), suspected to be one of the plants brought north by the Romans for food and common particularly on coastal areas in the UK, and Navelwort (Umbilicis rupestris), another plant at the north of its range in the UK.  I was surprised to find Alexanders almost in flower, perfect for delicious stir-fried wild greens with Alexanders broccoli and navelwort greens served over soba (buckwheat pasta)!

Wild Japanese Katakuri #1

1My trip to Japan in early spring 2016 was perfectly timed to witness one of the wonders of the Japanese spring, the mass flowering of katakuri (Erythronium japonicum; Japanese: 片栗), a pink-flowered species trout lily or dog’s tooth violet. Thanks to Kevin Cameron for inviting us along on a hike with a local walking club out of Nagoya! The bulbs were in the past used as a source of starch, the leaves and flowers also being eaten (but shouldn’t be wild harvested nowadays as some sources consider it as endangered). I’ve never seen so many people out flower watching, so many cameras trained at the flowers…a bit like twitchers watching some rare bird….we could call them flitters perhaps!

We took the train from Nagoya to Kanigawa station in Kani city on the edge of Nagoya’s urban sprawl, then walked to Yunohana hot springs spa and market on the river, popped in to one of the walking group’s friend’s house for tea, snack and a garden wander before walking to the katakuri area in a nature reserve area.  Finally, we followed a trail up on to the hill where there was a distant view of Japan’s second highest volcano Mt. Ontake. We followed Kevin and daughter back to the spa for a hot bath, while the rest of the group carried on the trail to take the train back from a different station.
I’ve had a katakuri in my garden for several years but it doesn’t get much larger and seems to be self-sterile (pictures of my plants can be seen in the gallery on this page:

First a gallery of pictures of the katakuri woods followed by 4 videos! This is followed by two more galleries of pictures from this wonderful day! Enjoy…

..and now 4 videos of the katakuri area:

Next, an album of pictures taken on the way from the station to the market and spa and lunch at a Japanese house.

…and finally a gallery of pictures of other plants including a number of edibles on the walk up to the viewpoint with the walking group!

Bike ride to Findhorn

On the second day of my stay with Kirsty Reid and  Chris Johnstone at Teeny Weeny Farm (Dyke, Moray) I cycled over to visit Findhorn! There had been several from Findhorn at my talk the night before (see ) and I was invited by Ariane Burgess to visit the Findhorn Forest Garden (more of that later) and Craig Gibsone, one of the elders who has lived there for 40 years! The pictures are mostly of edibles I found on the bike ride and most are also invasive plants unwanted by most, but foragers look at these plants differently!

Skomvær 2014

Here is my report from the second permaveggies / foraging weekend on the wonderful arctic island Skomvær outermost in the Lofoten Islands off north west Norway.  I spent an amazing couple of days here in June 2014 with some lovely people!
Foraging on land and for seaweed, wonderful wild food, warm weather, Tai Chi, Permaculture, arctic swimming, 5 Eagles soaring above us, the sunsets, inquisitive seals, lighthouse tour, the historical rose garden and much much more…………..
Please let me know if you’d be interested in joining us in 2017 (it’s not confirmed yet)…
This album appeared originally on FB:

Skomvær Fyr / Lighthouse: 2-4 August 2013

The first magical long weekend on the island Skomvær outermost in the Lofoten Islands. I was  contributing at a permaculture / wild food workshop there in August 2013, the first of two (so far)!!
I hope we can arrange a third weekend here in 2017…please let me know if you’re interested :)
The following album was originally posted on Facebook here:

Edimentals talk at the Royal Botanical Gardens

Fun day collecting edimentals from the garden’s collections, making a multi-species salad followed by my talk and walk!
Thanks to all who came and to Sabina Knees for helping out!
Some of the plants we collected were: Gunnera manicata, Saxifraga stolonifera, Hemerocallis spp. (daylilies), Hosta (leaves and flowers), Allium wallichii (two forms), Ligularia fischeri, Allium nutans, Allium schoenoprasum sibiricum, Ostrich Fern, Lilium leichtlinii, Lime leaves, Cacalia (Parasenecio) delphiniifolia, Hops, Aralia cordata (Udo), Aralia elata, Angelica gigas and Aster macrophylla. Flowers of Yucca filamentosa were used in the salad!

It was great to have the chance last week in Bergen to harvest and share the Gunnera tinctoria (Nalca) leaf stalk….the verdict was that it was surprisingly good, sweetly acid flavour (see! In Edinburgh, I was able to taste G. manicata for the first time. I’ve never seen evidence for its use. My hunch that this was probably due to it being more fibrous than its smaller cousin was confirmed:
Here’s an album of pictures I took of the amazing Nalca food forests of Chiloe Island in Chile (including being shown by a local how to eat it!):
See also

More pictures of edimentals in the botanics can be seen here:

Finally, thanks to my “old” friends Robin and Gwyn Allan (with an A), Diane Blakeley and Pete Fordham and our hosts Sabina Knees and Martin Gardner for not heckling during the proceedings ;) (we had a great reunion weekend in Edinburgh, not having met for some 35 years or more!)