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Take a walk on the wild side

By Lorna Thompson

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PEOPLE are being urged to go wild in Moray's hills and coastline as part of a new nationwide foraging festival.

Participants will be able to forage for medicinal plants, learn how to cook with wild ingredients or attend one of the many feasts of foraged food during the first ever Foraging Fortnight, which includes 27 events dotted across Moray between August 31 to September 15.

The LEADER-funded project encourages people to explore their natural environment to build knowledge of wild food and medicinal plants, and raise understanding of the health benefits of foraging.

The festival incorporates more than 100 events across five regions of Scotland, including the Lanarkshire hills, the beaches and fields of Fife, the mountains and coast of Moray, the woodlands and lochs of the Forth Valley and Loch Lomond area, and the diverse islands of Orkney. Each region has adapted the festival to its unique surroundings and local flora.

People can take their pick from a host of local festival events – many of them free of charge.

The first Foraging Fortnight aims to help people discover where to find wild food, how to use ingredients and their health benefits.
The first Foraging Fortnight aims to help people discover where to find wild food, how to use ingredients and their health benefits.

In Living Off the Land, food and culture connoisseur Eva Gunnare from Swedish Lapland will share her insights into foraging in the Arctic Circle. The free event will be held at Moray College. Among the many surprising nuggets of foraging knowledge to be gained, participants will learn that the early leaves of the rowan tree taste like marzipan and that shoots from the pine tree can make an amazing spice.

Kew-trained ethnobotanist Jennie Martin will lead walks at Dunnyduff Wood and Tarnash Falls in Keith, and along the Moray Coastal Trail from Burghead.

Explore the Edible Seashore in Cullen will offer a free opportunity to explore marine life and discover edible seaweeds and include a demonstration on how to cook coastal ingredients.

In The Plants of the Monks of Kinloss, ethnobotanical researcher Anna Canning will lead a free virtual foraging walk in the footsteps of the medieval monks to explore some of the plants that still grow there today.

The Wild Inspired Cookery Show at Oakwood Cookery School in Elgin will show how to transform meals with foraged ingredients, and Walk with the Wild Things is a free guided walk through Sanquhar Woods, in Forres, to learn more about the many surprising sources of food in local woodland.

Wendy Barrie, of the Scottish Food Guide, said: "Scotland is an ideal place for foraging, from woodland fungi and flowers to seashore areas. Foraging is an activity that’s outstanding for mental and physical fitness and something that is truly accessible to everyone."

Foraging Fortnight is part of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight. For the full programme visit www.foragingfortnight.co.uk.

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