On a misty early morning you might well find him on Hackney Marshes, scrabbling around the undergrowth, clearly a man on a mission. But lest you think his purpose might be unsavoury, fear nor, because the bearded gentleman in question is none other than George Fredenham, one half of The Foragers (the other being award-winning poet Richard Osmond), whose passion for wild food has taken him from a desk job in the city to the wide, opens spaces of East London in a quest to find nature’s bounty, be it wild herbs, vegetables, fruit or fungi.
Foraging has become a way of life for George and one he loves so much, he wants to share, be it with customers at the wild food pub he owns – The Verulam Arms in St Albans, or through the series of walks, courses, classes and workshops The Foragers regularly run. “You get to know what grows in abundance in certain places, and what you can responsibly pick,” says George. “And while we love going to new places, looking for new stuff to forage, we always come back to Hackney Marshes as it’s where my foraging really first began.”
Indeed as a Stoke Newington resident, distance-wise the favoured destination makes perfect sense, although perhaps it takes someone with the knowledge and vision of George to realise the iconic grassland’s wild food potential. Right now wild garlic, cherries, Wood avens root, Chicken-of-the-woods and the Tawny Grisette & The Blusher mushrooms are top of his foraging list, with much dependent on the time of year.
Given his way, George would be out foraging every single day, but as is he manages to notch up around 16-hours a week. And it’s not just delicious meals he makes from his finds, but boozy concoctions too – wild herb absinthe or mushroom stout anyone! “Foraging is a tremendously fun and fulfilling way to spend a day or just a few hours,” says George with a grin, and to prove his point, he’s off back in the undergrowth. It seems you can’t keep a good forager down.
If food foraging, fun and feasting sound appealing then let The Foragers arrange a walk or workshop. Whether just a few hours or a whole day, with friends or with work colleagues, George and Richard are happy to create an experience that suits. Whatever you decide, you’re guaranteed a memorable time, as you find and identify plants, fruit and fungi, learn some science and folklore and then taste the boozy concoctions and delicious wild dishes that can be made from your finds.
Find out more at foragewell.com
Go to Foragewell’s YouTube channel to see the latest video on how to forage and cook vegan roast chicken (chicken-in-the-woods mushroom)