Edible Landscape

An Introduction to the Edible Landscape

Edible Landscape is a series of monthly guided walks that explore local landscapes, seasonal ‘wild’ foods, and other useful plants. Set in and around Stroud and the Slad valley, the monthly sessions run all year round including the winter. Each walk will take in different aspects of the local landscape and explore changing nature of the fields, woods, streams and hedgerows through seasons.

photos by Rupert Howe

Along the way we will learn to find and identify wild foods and other useful native and exotic plants, flowers, trees and fungi. We will learn about their preparation and use in the kitchen and home, as well as looking at the cultivation and propagation of ‘wild’ plants in the garden.

More than just a foraging trip, Edible Landscape aims to help participants develop their awareness and understanding of the natural environment and our place within it. Participants will discover ways of ‘reading’ the landscape and consider how biodiversity, climate, land use, history and other integrated factors shape and change the environment around us. We will also explore our own physical and psychological relationships to the land, question some of our assumptions and consider how a holistic approach to natural resources and the environment might become part of a more sustainable future.

Some of the topics covered in the year will include:

  • Identifying edible and poisonous plants and fungi
  • Woods, tree identification and uses of different types of wood
  • What plants tell us about soil, nutrients and water in the landscape
  • How history and human interaction has shaped the landscape
  • Climate, aspect and micro-climate
  • Environmental ‘niches’ and how plants and fungi utilise them
  • Feral fruits and urban foraging
  • Springs, water and water plants
  • Storing and preserving found fruits, nuts and leaves
  • Hedgerow brews

More about the Edible Landscape Series.

The whole series of walks runs throughout the year. Most walks will be held on Sunday mornings starting at 10.30 and will generally last for two hours. Numbers are limited to 10 places on each session so booking is essential. If you are registered on the Nature+Culture website you can book walks on line. Alternatively you can contact Dominic through the contacts page.

Each walk is done twice in a month so people have two opportunities to participate on each walk. The default dates are the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month but please check dates on the website before turning up, as they may change depending on circumstances. I will endeavour to confirm monthly dates at least a week before each event.

The Edible Landscape ‘curriculum’ is designed to be flexible, intuitive and responsive to the unpredictability of people and nature. The whole annual series aims to cumulatively build knowledge and understanding through changing locations and seasons, and those participants who choose to take part in all the walks will gain the most out of the course. However people are welcome to join as many or as few walks as they want or are able to (space permitting) and I aim to make each walk as interesting and informative as possible for both the first time visitor and the full-time old hand.

For details about dates, times, meeting points and on-line booking check out the Events pages

Notes on a new pricing system

From March 2011 to December 2012 I ran two edible Landscape walks a month (mostly). The price I charged was £5 a person.  Many said this was very reasonable, indeed positively cheap. – but I decided on this price because whilst I was hoping to get a reasonable hourly return for the work and experience I put into these events I also did not want them to the entirely the preserve of the financially solvent .

Even so, I still find the process of charging people to experience nature problematic. The deeply critical might even go as far as saying these events represent the commodification of the commons.

Then again living in a capitalist society one needs to raise capital in order to survive within it. And as Edible Landscape has neither private nor public funding and I do not have a permanent job in the city, or elsewhere, some capital needs to be raised in my many and varied ‘portfolio’ career.

The tried and tested model of course is to sell ones labour. And the great thing about money and the exchange contract is it’s simplicity – we all understand the game. I tell you the price, you pay the money, or not  (that’s the wonderful power of consumer choice, sir/madam).

But Edible Landscape has always been about more than a guided walk led by a professional. So I decided to take all the problematics of labour, capital, nature and exchange and share them with you, the customer/ participant/ collaborator.

So for the new season of Edible Landscape walks I am trying an experiment in exchange where I do not set a price for my labour. Instead I will be inviting participants to pay as much or as little as they like – what they can afford, or what they think its worth.

It may be a financially risky strategy for me, but I’m hoping that mutually beneficial arrangements will be negotiated. Along the way, as well as sampling the gratuitous bounty of the Commons, we might also explore the some of the murky back woods of labour, exchange and natural capital.

Also see the foraging code for more about collecting and eating wild food.