A day in the life of a Forager…

A day in the life of a Forager…

Today it is another cold day in the forest, you can smell the sweet damp in the air as you pick each mushroom, inhaling the exquisite aroma, this is lush, this is Winter, this is my time.

20170913_192222

My fingers are frozen, the giant wooly coats are not just pretty for photoshoots they are a uniform for me, the only protection from nature’s test of a real forager in the mid-Winter forest she who can withstand the cold is triumphant!

With my basket, mushroom knife & stick and thermos of wild picked herbal tea I inhale the fresh air and take a moment to thank mother nature for her nourishing harvest for which we are all too grateful.

She is my life giver in so many senses, my passion, connection and grounding is the bush.

Not in the literal sense-shout out to my real life giver- you rock Mum 🙂

But Mother Nature is such an integral part of our family’s life now in a way I could have never imagined a decade ago, it’s a forager’s life for me now and there ain’t no looking back!! Although we may need to make a Foragers Anonymous meeting for me and all my fellow foraging addicts, we don’t have a problem we have a passion! 

My life and work now centers around the seasons and it’s just such an abundant mushroom season in the Goldfields of Victoria.

20170507_124356_001

The wild chives are every where and the 3 cornered leeks are finally at an edible size some even with flowers already.

wp-image-779248208

The Hawthorn berries are all but bare and to me this equals a foraging frenzy like no other time of the year!

20170908_123019

This now means it’s my busiest time of year not just for work, but also for feeding my family for the rest of the year. It is a constant cycle of basket after basket of mushrooms being cleaned and processed to be dried, cooked, preserved and stored for the rest of the year.

20170501_171954This is how we have not had to buy mushrooms for over 7 years now. When its summer and dry we have beautiful dehydrated wild mushrooms that in some cases taste even better when they’ve been dried.

It’s also a time when a lot of people who don’t normally forage all of a sudden pick up a basket, put on some boots and get into nature, and for some a fire for foraging is ignited within them, hopefully along with a real fire at this time of year ‘cause it’s real cold!’

It’s also a time of year I find myself baffled and pleading again for people not to eat mushrooms they don’t know and please find a local mushroom expert to confirm in person what you are about to eat rather than rely on online identification.

20180503_0114182116237292.jpgMushroom hunting is a dangerous first time foraging sport, and your life is on the line if you are not an experienced mushroom hunter, nothing and I mean nothing substitutes first hand knowledge and years of it!

So please if you are a novice mushroom forager, attend a local course or workshop or ask around for your local mushroom person to identify in the flesh that you have the correct mushroom.

OR better yet come along to one of my workshops and I can teach you how to identify edible mushrooms, beyond a shadow of a doubt for yourself!

Check out our events page for information about our current events, You can also book in for a private tour or why not a gift card for a mushroom foraging friend?

But please be carful out there, I would highly recommend hitting the mushroom books at your local library or joining some facebook identification groups it’s a great source of area specific fungi information.

Happy Foraging

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Purple Nudist Hunting

Lepista Nuda. The elusive Wood Blewit or as we here at FFF call them ‘the purple nudists’

Purple Nudist mushrooms pictured with a few orange saffron milk cap mushrooms.

The best mushroom on the planet if you ask fungi guide Ingrid Button “it’s what I would order as my last meal, they’re that good ”
They are a very tricky mushroom to find and even ID but a purple gilled mushroom that smells like flowers and tastes like heaven is worth it!!

So on Saturday a bunch of brave Foragers joined us at the historic and beautiful Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve to graduate our class and become certified Purple Nudist Hunters. Complete with their own diploma of purple nudist mushroom hunting!

We taught the hunters how to read the Bush for the nudists specific habitat, and evryone at the end of the day had hunted down their first Purple Nudist!!! And we even found some saffrons and slipperys along the way!

We devoured taste testers of creamy wood blewit and native chive sauce on freshly baked homemade dock seed foraged bread. With a cooking demonstration of how to make it too, all washed down with native river mint and wild herb tea with a bit of honey!

Massive thanks to the great class who braved the sun showers and were rewarded with baskets of mushrooms and even a rainbow!

Tour guide & Wild Food Expert Ingrid Button catching a rainbow with a cuppa in the other hand, now that’s multitasking (thanks to Mandy Pitt for the great photo!)

Along the trail Ingrid found a few specimens of wild food and shared her knowledge on a few plants

Plantain used in the bread, great source of protein and vitamins.

It’s leaves are also a great first aid bush remedy to stop bleeding and aid healing. Not to mention a great addition to dried teas especially in the winter months to help keep cold and flu away, along with stinging nettles which are in season now.

Ingrid harvesting Nettles on Mass

We also had dock seed in the bread as the main flour which is a great GF alternative and packed full of nutrients

Up close of dried dock seed head in Summer & Autumn

We also had the fortune of finding some St. John’s Wort springing back to life with new leaves everywhere

St John’s Wort flowering in Spring / Summer

Congratulations to all our newly graduated Purple Nudist Hunters my you hunt many purple mushrooms that will make you groan out loud they’re so delicous!

Now that’s a story to tell and a certificate to proudly say “I am a purple nudist hunter”

One of the graduates Jeff Montgomery has made a great suggestion to make t-shirts ‘I am a Purple Nudist Hunter’ and we here at Free Food Foragers absolutely love the idea of that!!!

Special thanks to Jane Mallick a Taradale local for sharing a few bit of local knowledge on the walk.

HAPPY mushie hunting!

A 2nd Autumn Afternoon Session of Edible Fungi and Foraging Workshop

After a sellout first tour we’re happy to announce another one for anyone who missed out!

The 2nd of the Season’s Autumn Afternoon Sessions with Wild Food Guide – Ingrid Button.

Escape the daily grind with a weekend experience to really brag about on Monday morning at beautiful Mount Franklin Reserve – just 5 minutes out of Daylesford.(1HR drive from Melbourne)
Mount Franklin is an ancient in-active volcano covered with European style forest in full Autumnal splendor. You will enjoy an authentic campfire gourmet foraging and edible fungi educational experience.

Tour includes a short walk around the forest to identify wild food sources hands on, learn how to identify the free food all
around us.
Also included is a taste tester of gourmet foraged food, wild herbal honey tea to warm you up on an autumn afternoon and a cooking demonstration on the campfire.

Spaces for this unique experience are limited, so book your tickets quickly to avoid disappointment.

Tickets $30 per person
https://www.trybooking.com/VZQE
1-2pm signs and bunting around campsite on the day.
Sensible footwear, water and warm clothing is advised along with notebook if so inclined.

For more information feel free to contact the team: freefoodforgagers@gmail.com

Basic Bushcraft Survival Skills Workshop With Special guest Bush Craftsman Benedict Leckie

A new event featuring special guest Bush Craftsman Benedict Leckie combining over 35 years of experience & skills sets with wild food expert Ingrid Button.

To offer an educational and entertaining experience in basic beginners emergency survival skills.

How to find Water
How to start a Fire in an emergency situation
How to make an Emergency Shelter
How to find wild Survival food

Would you know how to survive?
You will after our workshop!

Tickets $40 per person
Limited to 20 places
Bookings essential http://www.trybooking.com/WAKX
OR

To arrange bookings and pay the old school way in the day contact us at freefoodforagers@gmail.com or contact 0411434705

Wild Food expert Ingrid Button

AUTUMN-FEST

Join us to celebrate all that is AWESOME about Autumn with AUTUMN-FEST!
At the breathtakingly beautiful country escape that is Taradale Mineral Springs complete with open fireplace and cooking demonstrations. Join wild food tour guide Ingrid Button on an edible foraging identification walk, finding morsels of edible plants and fungi on the spot!

Learn how to make ACORNS EDIBLE and even have a little taste test of some GF acorn flour mini cupcakes with rosehip sauce!
Come for a wild adventure in nature’s abundant free food harvest on offer all around us.
Learn from the experts how to live off the land and even how to reduce your food bill by 50%!

Tickets $10 per person
Bookings via trybooking
http://www.trybooking.com/

Or for direct bookings to pay the old school way please contact us at freefoodforagers@gmail.com or 0411434705

Footscray Foraging Get your eats in the streets

Bringing a whole new meaning to street food on Saturday Free Food Foragers went West!!

Footscray Park is a beautiful hidden gem of the West, boasting the Maribrynong river at its base and a wide array of edible plants and weeds with peaceful picnic spots a plenty.

Melbourne lived up to its reputation with 4 seasons in one day. From 30 degrees dry heat to humid and raining to winds that tested our workshop setup to the extreme. Workshop 1, Weather 0

Wild Food Expert Ingrid Button having a bit of a Marylin Munro moment in the gusty weather!

Below is the inviting cow hide rugs in a Norse harvest circle arrangement, just moments before the weather took a nasty turn.

Ingrid displaying her potential skills as a game show assistant 🙂

Workshop area

An amazing group of good humoured Foragers joined us as we discovered what Footscray Park had to offer in the way of Free Food.

Tropical vibes

A few highlights of our discoveries …

  • Native Juniper berries
  • Edible Ginger
  • Mullein for cough syrup expectorant and tobacco alternative
  • Holy sun rose ice plant succulent with edible leaves and red flowers
  • Purslane with more omega 3 than some fish!
  • Dandelion flowers for syrup, jelly and honey infusions. And let’s not forget Dandellion root roasted makes the best coffee substitute known to man!
  • Black Nightshade- a relative of tomatoes with it’s edible black berries
  • Mountain Spinach / orach a close relative of Quinoa
  • Milk Thistle
  • Peruvian pink peppercorns

All within a short 100m walk along the path.

We sampled herbal tea (that wasn’t so hot due to a stove malfunction!) But still delicous with Wild Fennel, lemon Verbena and Native chocolate river mint specially cultivated and making it’s first ever debut at our workshops.

After our educational identification walk, we returned to the workshop space to get familiar with samples of the ingredients such as

  • Dock Seed flour and dock leaves which are used to treat bites and stings from insects
  • Purslane samples from different environments to show the growth and colour variations of the plant
  • Wild Fennel shoots, flowers and seeds and their various used
  • And to finish off dried Plantain seeds and husks ground to make the exact same Psyllium Husk product available in stores

We just wanted to say a big thank you to the hilariously welcoming group of Foragers who joined us today, it was so much fun to forage Footscray with you all.

And a special mention and thanks to Nat Bootle our Social Media Manager on her first workshop officially today and she was invaluable, welcome aboard Nat 🙂

It’s gonna be endless pun-ets at the Berry Delightful Harvest

Get your buckets, boots & gloves it’s blackberry picking time!
Pick as many as you can to help the environment

Demonstration by wild food expert Ingrid Button of blackberry & Apple Sauce making
BYO small jar to take some home!

$20 per person kids free

http://www.trybooking.com/UAIW
0411434705 for further details or direct cash bookings

Meeting point @ The Chewton Red Hill Hotel = 163 Main Rd Chewton Victoria 3451

Berry harvest location is a closely guarded secret!

On Sunday 25 February 2018 at 4:00pm -5pm

Black Berry & Carob ‘choc’ dock seed cake with blackberry sauce

Wild Food Guide Ingrid Button

LAMMAS Viking harvest festival was the best workshop yet!!!!

An amazing group of people joined us for a traditional Viking Harvest Celebration of wild foods to celebrate the first grain harvest.

We feasted until we could fit no more in true Viking style! On the menu was:

Purslane, homemade Ricotta, dill & Wild Garlic pastries

Spiced Dock Seed Norse braided bread wreath to dip into homemade ricotta & homemade sundried tomato & wild garlic dip

For mains it was:

Kangaroo, wild mushroom, seaweed and homegrown vegie stew served with seaweed sourdough

Oh and a few fresh yabbies thrown in too!

Or wild mushroom, seaweed and homegrown vegie stew for the vego and vegans amongst us! Served with the seaweed sourdough of course.

Along with a basket of fresh white peaches and plums

Roasted carob pods

Dock Seed and carob cake with blackberry sauce and mango + seaweed sauce

TO wash it all down wild chocolate river mint and wild fennel honey iced tea and fresh effervescent spring water from two different spring pumps!!

We nourished our bodies and then nourished our souls, the mineral water spring cleansing our faces in the cooling spring water. Some even filled their hats and went the whole hog! (Good on ya Bob!)

We spoke about living within our natural roles with the earth and bound herbs for good luck in the next seasons harvest and to bring positive energy into your home by hanging your bound river mint by your door. These traditional harvest practices are about respecting the mighty force that is nature and all the bountiful harvest she provided us this summer season.

Then we learnt to make flour with a problematic grinder & bread from the dock seeds

This is a special once a year event and we will definitely be holding it again next year, along with a few more yearly harvest festival feasts to be announced throughout 2018!!

Through sharing our ancestral harvest practices we connected and relaxed and in such beautiful surroundings how could you not!

After a quick walk to both spring pumps and some tasting of the fresh mineral water, we found some Purslane

Amongst other things we also found some plantain types including river Plantain as I call it. (Not pictured)

In other words Broad leaf and Narrow leaf/ common plantain

At the end of the workshop on a perfect, just hot enough to swim, but not too hot, kind of day we all jumped in the Loddon river swimming hole at Vaughan Springs.

Best experience with sharing knowledge to date!

We are so excited to share this sacred celebration with you all in 2019 it’s going to be bigger and better than ever and it will be again at the magnificent Vaughan Springs. Escape the daily grind and come back in time with us….again!

Bringing a whole new meaning to Street Food

Find your eats in the streets!
Learn how to find safe, wild feral food in urban landscapes.
Sustainable, envionromentally friendly, free food which is organic, local and has great health benefits.
Get away from the supermarket and into Nature’s Pantry to reduce your food bill by 20-50%
Wild Food expert Ingrid Button will take you on an educational walk to identify with you the free food all around us.

$20 per person
Wild river mint and wild fennel iced tea & field guide pamphlet included.

On Saturday 24 February 2018 at 2:00pm- 3pm

LOCATION

Footscray Park
40, Maribrynong boulevard , Footscray, Victoria 3011

Wild Plum harvest

Wild River Mint

INSIDE MONSTERIA FRUIT

OUTSIDE OF MONSTERIA FRUIT

Interesting fact about MONSTERIA fruit: if eaten when unripe it will be so acidic that it will make your mouth bleed. BUT WHEN FULLY RIPE = SUPER DELICIOUS CROSS BETWEEN PINEAPPLE AND BANANA hence the name Monsteria Deliciosa.

WILD FENNEL FLOWERS