Medicinal weeds and wild foods

Identifying Sweet CicelyToday I set off to find out more about medicinal weeds and wild foods. I didn’t have to travel to the Australian outback and hook up with Ray Mears, I simply set off for Forge Dam in Fulwood, Sheffield and joined a guided walk being led by local herbalist Calder Bendle.

It proved to be a completely fascinating two hours. About 10 of us trundled along after our expert, who explained that there would be plenty of opportunity to taste things along the way. We all swapped apprehensive glances, as he clearly wasn’t referring to a tea break at Forge cafe.

We needn’t have worried though, as he most certainly knew his stuff. The first tasting was of Sweet Cicely, which has a beautiful sweet aniseed flavour and can be used for all manner of things, from sweetening sour fruits in cooking, to the creation of herbal remedies for disorders such as indigestion. Although it looks uncannily like Cow Parsley at first glance, it wasn’t long before we got the hang of the differences and we all started making our proud identifications of the plant as we wandered along. You wouldn’t think that Forge Dam was so full of plants, but during the walk we discovered the amazing properties of no less than 20 plants that we wouldn’t have given a second glance to without the endless knowledge and enthusiasm of ‘Bendle’

The event was organised by Sheffield Environment weeks and is one of more than 200 activities taking part throughout the city, which aim to promote environmental awareness.

I went along out of personal interest, but it was very valuable and I’m sure that some of the information I gathered will be of great use as I develop my new range of greeting cards called ‘natural healing’.

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