Foraging and cooking together

A little film about foraging

Why foraging?

Foraging responsibly is a great way to reconnect with the natural world, giving a reason to actively explore and notice your area’s natural resources. Looking closely, even the smallest patch can reveal a surprising amount of biodiversity.  With a forager’s eye, you re-evaluate plants previously dismissed as weeds and see the value in wild, untended places and their natural abundance. As we consider food supply and security, it is empowering to know that there may be rich pickings on our doorsteps.    

Foraging supports well-being, encouraging you to be active, to notice, to learn, and creates connection with your area, nature, and the changing seasons. It’s also family friendly - a shared activity which gives a purpose to being out and about exploring and lots of things to talk about. 

To identify a plant you use your senses, make links and connections, and think actively and critically, all of which are important for early years learning and development. Foraging is not without risks but making children aware of the dangers, giving them simple rules and guidelines to manage and reduce that risk is empowering, develops confidence, resilience, and independent thinking.

Emma is an experienced and knowledgeable forager (previously working as a Horticulturalist at the Eden Project), who leads group foraging walks across Cornwall. Lowen has accompanied Emma on walks since she was a few months old, carried in a sling before she could walk. Emma assumed that Lowen remembered where to find edibles because of their location, but distinctly remembers a walk in a new place, when Lowen was only a year old and pointed out marsh samphire.

Emma began to realise how much Lowen was learning from their walks. Exploring, cooking and eating what they find gives Lowen lots of opportunities to make meaningful connections to the plants that she sees and gathers. 

Top tips for foraging with your child

  • Make sure that your child always asks before putting anything in their mouth
  • Learn and tell them which plants to avoid
  • Always identify the plants you find. Use all your senses and check your identification.  If you aren’t sure, don’t touch or eat it
  • Name plants and talk about them
  • Talk about the places to avoid foraging – low-down or polluted areas and busy roadsides
  • Give them their own basket

A little film about cooking together

Sharing and talking about daily tasks like cooking are important for early years development. Safely including young children in tasks might mean they involve a bit more preparation, take a little longer and need you to let go of your expectations about the outcome. 

However, learning how to chop and use safe tools, stir, pour, weigh and measure, and see how food changes is great for your child’s development. Cooking food that you have foraged or harvested creates meaning and connection and demonstrates the value of the natural world. Shared interaction develops focus and concentration and enables your child to become more aware of how manage risks in the kitchen. 

Top tips

  • Create a safe place that your child can sit or stand and work alongside you
  • Make them aware of the dangers of sharp objects and hot surfaces
  • Give them ‘safe tools’ which they can use or help them to use them ‘hand-on-hand’
  • Keep things simple
  • Enjoy tasting what you’ve cooked

Pancakes with stewed apple and blackberry jam

Wildflower focaccia

Join in with foraging and cooking by making wildflower focaccia and pancakes with stewed apple and blackberry jam