Food Underfoot…or ‘why looking down is good for you’


Henry Chenoweth Park, now known globally for its weediness...
Henry Chenoweth Park, now known globally for its weediness…

 

On Sunday, I took my first local weed walk, I called it ‘Food Underfoot‘.

I’ve done a few walks further away from Gawler, but thought that we need to make a name for our town. I decided to host it in Henry Chenoweth Park which now has the dubious honour of having the most edible weed species of any of our local parks.

Is that a good thing? It is to me!

H. C. Park is a pretty, open area bordering the South Para River and sits between the Gawler Community House and the Elderly Centre. It is only 5 – 10 minutes walk from the heart of Gawler too. It is a shortcut between two parts of town and a favourite of dog walkers and cyclists.

I knew it would be a bit of a gamble, with the day being on a long weekend and also the day that the football grand final was being held in Melbourne. I had to pick my time though, as in the beautiful weather we have been having, some of the softer herbs such as Chickweed are drying out and the river is drying up slowly.

I hoped for a small crowd, may be one or two thousand, then toned it down a bit and hoped for ten people. The event was only promoted through my local Facebook groups and, according to the stats it was to be only myself and a friend.

Luckily, I was excited and arrived extra early, only to find that the local Council had mowed some of the prime weed hunting spots. Quickly, I scouted around and found alternative locations for most of the plants I hoped to show. It was at one of these alternative spots that I looked up from identifying a plant and saw my friend from @minismallholding standing next to me. We’d only met online,  never in person, but she recognised my hat.

I had been trying desperately trying to remember the common name of Oxalis corymbosa for which I had just refered to Google for advice. It could have been embarrasing! It’s called Wood Sorrel (just for the record).

Wandering back to the designated meeting place we chated about Steemit, gardens and other good stuff. Two more friends came along a few minutes later, one with her daughter. I knew then a use for the Wood Sorrel – pretty pink flowers for a little girl.

Another local friend came along a few minutes later and we were off!

The walk took a little under two hours and some of the things we covered were –

  • Dandelion, its herbal and composting uses and comparison to  Chickweed and Capeweed
  •  Wood Sorrel, a pretty flower with a bite
  • Blackberry Nightshade and how to eat the berries
  • Chickweed, its herbal uses and comparison to Mouse-Ear Chickweed and Coastal Galena
  • Capeweed and how to eat it in a real dire absolute emergency
  • Wild Lettuce and Sow Thistle, their uses and ways to tell them apart
  • Nasturtiums, their culinary and remedial uses
  • Olive leaves, uses
  • Castor Oil Plant and why not to use it
  • Fumitory
  • Musky Storkbill, uses and identification
  • Dock, uses and how to tell a couple of types apart
  • Milk Thistle, how to use it and how to differentiate it from Sow Thistle
  • Plantain and its uses
  • Wild Brassicas and why not to bother telling them apart
  • Petty Spurge and its uses for skin cancers
  • Catsear and its comparison to Dandelions
  • Peppercress and how spicy it is
  • Clammy Goosefoot (because i couldn’t find any Goosefoot at the time)

That was a pretty good lot of discoveries from an area of about an acre.

I think everyone was happy with the walk. Maybe there was too much information on the day, but I really enjoyed sharing the understanding I have developed over my time studying herbs and weeds. As an herbalist, I could explain the herbal uses; as an ecologist, how they worked in the ecosystem and as a gardener and lover of food, how to eat them.

Of course, the latter is the most important!

You can see most of these plants on our  ‘Edible Weeds‘ or ‘Wild Herbs‘ pages.

 

Chickweed - one of the stars of the show!
Chickweed – one of the stars of the show!
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