Spring foraging is top of our list of things to do with the kids now that spring has well and truly reached our little corner of South West France.
You would think living deep in the countryside would be peaceful, but on a recent walk around our village I couldn’t help but observe how noisy it was around me. The bees were buzzing their way around the newly blossoming flowers and the birds were calling their friends from the trees. Tractors were out in the fields preparing the land for planting crops, trees were being cut down for winter next year. At the village school children were laughing their way around the playground on their morning break.
All this noise is welcome after the long hibernation of winter. It’s exciting planning outdoor activities with the kids now that the sun is shining.
Spring Foraging for Food
We’ve recently been taking regular walks around our village. There is so much to look out for at this time of year.
Our two boys are slowly beginning to recognize the natural world around them. They can pick out ivy creeping its way up and around. The boys recognize the acorns that fall from the oak trees. They notice the dandelions in both yellow flowering form and the ‘clocks’ that they like to blow. They can tell from the leaves which trees will bear figs at the start of autumn, which bushes are best for blackberries, and where to forage for plums to make jam.
Foraging for food has become a favourite family activity for us since moving here. It’s amazing how much delicious abundant free food can be found around us. This spring we’re going to try a couple new foraging recipes…
It seems everyone is out picking nettles at the moment. Not only can you steep the leaves to make tea, but you can also use it as a replacement for spinach, whizzed up into a soup, or chopped into an omelette or quiche.
Take care when picking though – you’ll need a good pair of gloves to avoid getting stung!
Dandelions are everywhere right now and you can use the whole plant as food or drink. You can batter or fry the flowers, much like courgette flowers. Or you can use the leaves in salads and, again, as a spinach substitute. You can also roast the roots and make a coffee type drink with them.
These plants are amazing once you really start looking at them; until recently we only really thought of dandelions and nettles as weeds.
Why Foraging is a Great Activity for Kids
Spring foraging is a truly educational experience for children. It’s important that children know where their food comes from and take an active part in food preparation at home.
It’s fascinating to approach food in a new way by delving deep into the plant life around the area we live. We don’t just appreciate their natural beauty, but we are also learning about their properties and how we can incorporate them into seasonal dishes.
It will be interesting to see if the boys will be brave enough to try these new foods! However, even if they don’t, they’ll still have the knowledge that one day they may use or pass on to others.
Just remember it’s important to do your research before foraging. If you’re interested in having a go there’s a whole host of fantastic information out there on the web to get you started.
Do you forage for food where you live? What wild foods do you incorporate into your meals?