Wonderfully unspoilt with swathes of outstanding natural beauty and abundant plant life, Guernsey is ripe for foraging. Whether on the seashore or in woodlands and meadows, the island is rich in edible flora and fauna. Here, Tara Brimson of Wild Guernsey, a local organisation that offers engaging and educational foraging workshops, explains what makes Guernsey such a perfect location for foraging.
How did you first become interested in foraging?
“My granddad was a local fisherman who worked on an old wooden boat and fished out of Rousse on the west coast. I grew up picking winkles, gathering ormers and helping pull nets, pots and reel in lines whenever I had the opportunity. Studying for a degree in marine zoology gave me more practical knowledge as well as a scientific grounding. My partner D’Arcy was raised in a family that valued sustainable living off the land. He was used to gathering nature’s harvest from an early age and his parents would often be outdoors looking for interesting ingredients to complement everyday meals. As a child, he was taught to identify plants and learn about their uses which nurtured a lifelong passion.”
Why is Guernsey such a good place to forage?
“There are many different micro environments here that offer rich pickings. The maritime climate encourages plants that you might normally expect further south. The huge tides uncover a massive additional space with opportunities to sample sea vegetables and more that you might not find with smaller tidal movements. In addition, as we’re an island, you can always find sheltered spots to forage and distances are small making it easy to cover more ground in less time.”
What does a Wild Guernsey workshop entail?
“Walking, exploring, tasting, sharing and enjoying the natural environment while learning about new ingredients to help enhance food and make it interesting. We also hope that it might make the whole consuming experience more mindful. You can taste the past, allowing your senses to safely know what food might have been like many years ago.”
What are your favourite places for foraging in Guernsey?
“When the tide is out the table is set, so the seashore is an amazing resource. It’s also a great place to be with children as they can explore and observe life in rock pools and around the intertidal zone while also helping to collect the evening meal.”
What are some of your favourite ingredients?
“Seaweed! There are so many varieties and ways to use them. The vibrant colours can add depth to food on the table with unique texture and flavours.”
What advice would you give first-time foragers?
“Positive identification is essential, using photographic and illustrated guides with descriptions to help identify plants. Most foraging books are good with ideas of how to cook them but dedicated identification guides are best. Get to know an area. Knowing its history is important in understanding lifecycles, productivity and local activity (like weed spraying). Most of all, think about your need and not your greed, only take small amounts. Ensure you have the land-owner’s permission and that you are gathering within the law.”
Discover Guernsey’s wild side while staying at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Old Government House Hotel & Spa in the heart of St Peter Port.
Image credits: lead image © iStock/kimikodate. Shells © iStock/espy3008. All other images courtesy of Wild Guernsey.