On Thursday 29 November, Kenneth Greenway of the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park was invited to attend an award ceremony at Victoria Park, when Vicky Park was awarded the ‘The nation’s favourite park’ award, from the Green Flag Awards, which is a national bench mark for park quality. In this ceremony the Friends were also recognised and awarded an accolade. They were the winner of a Special Innovation Award in the category of Community Involvement. This was to recognise the hard work that the Friends have invested in developing their wild food walks.
The project began as an experimental Wild Food Walk in Summer 2009. It drew over 35 people. This public interest led them to organize several wild food walks yearly. Those leading the walks have good general botanical knowledge. They have developed the specific wild food content by the use of the many wild food reference books now available, supplemented by the practical experience of trying things out. Walk leaders are equipped with cold water to wash leaves, fruits and roots for tasting en route, and with hot water to make leaf and flower teas. After the walk one or two quick, simple cooking and eating experiments take place.
The Friends are now making developments to the basic model. The first is the multi-cultural dimension. There are wild food traditions around the world. Where these work with a wild plant heritage with much in common with that of Britain, there will be a host of different uses of plants available. This is certainly the case with Japan, China, mainland Europe and North America. The Friends will develop these both from books, and through people who come to the events.
The second development started in September 2011. Discussions with Sidekick Studios led the Friends to initiate paid wild food events, which offer a more comprehensive experience, including making a shared meal. Two have been held and a third is scheduled. The Friends intend to continue with these paying events, while maintaining the free ones.
They are adding a new type of free event, the “Wild Food Kitchen” to support the paying events. Volunteers will trial seasonal recipes and make storable products such as jams, jellies, vinegars and teas. These can be included in the shared meals of paid events. Wild Food Kitchen volunteers can also help run the paid events. Details of these and other events in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park can be found on the Friends’ website.
Header photo: picking nettles
Photos by The Amazings.