Playing in the woods!  What a great way to spend the weekend!  That’s what Forest Schools is all about, so I can’t think of a more exciting thing to be training to do at the moment.  As a Forest Schools trainee it really was a perfect way to spend the weekend with something for all the family.

Forest Fest is funded and organised by BCEP (Bradford Community Environment Project).  There was a series of workshops offered by Forest Schools and Outdoor Practitoners in foraging and cooking outdoors, assessing and taking risks and using tools for bushcraft.

IMGP0011We only had time to follow 2 workshops, so I chose to participate in ‘Risk in Forest Schools’ session first and the foraging and cooking outdoors session just in time to sample the goodies collected and cooked for a late lunch!

Annie Berrington of Get Out More led the session on risk, which was really fun and engaging and of course got us to take good risks, which stretched us just enough to expand our comfort zone without stepping out of it, into panic.

This led to me teaching another participant how to do a cartwheel and me (& others) dangling upside down on a rope bridge!

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In the second session I went with Cath Bromwich, who is a trained gourmet chef as well as keen forager, who likes to cook what she finds over a wood fire right there in the outdoors.  We foraged a few of the things that are available in October, mainly rowan berries and had a look at other items that would be harvested at other times of year, such as hwathorn leaves and blackcurrant leaves and beech leaves.

IMGP0031I’d heard of their use before, but what was interesting was the gourmet twist which Cath added to their purpose and the pragmatic approach which made this forage about looking and seeing what would be there at other times of year in order to make good food.

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Beech leaves can be used as spring vegetables, blackcurrant leaves can be put in cold water, heated up to extract the flavour.  This water can then be cooled to use the extracted juice for a sorbet.  Finally hawthorn leaves can be used fresh chopped up in taboulet.  I liked Cath’s no fuss pragmatic approach and she decided to buy in some items to illustrate the kinds of foods we might have prepared at other times of year (else we’d have been fairly unimpressed with our gourmet meal) and we cooked blackberry jam, rowan jelly, green leaf pesto and a simple potato and spinach curry, all cooked over an open wood fire. Yum!  I would like to say thanks to BCEP (Bradford Community Environment Project) and all the people offering workshops for a fantastic weekend.  To see more images from Forest Fest visit our flickr gallery

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