Wild food harvested on the streets of Plymouth
WALKERS got a taste for biodiversity on an eco stroll through the city centre.
They harvested wild food sprouting on the streets.
The leaves and plants were then served up as a part of a warming soup.
Permaculture designer Tess Wilmott, who led the walk with ecologist Ro Hughes, was surprised to find such a sizeable edible harvest in mid winter.
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"We weren't expecting to find much," she said. "But the city is warmer than the countryside so there was quite a bit to find."
The haul included three-cornered leeks (also known as wild garlic), hairy bittercress (a common weed that tastes like watercress), and herbs rosemary and marjoram.
The walkers also found plantain, a weed often present in lawns, which has medicinal uses, and daisies – the petals are edible.
The walk started and finished at Plymouth Arts Centre, Looe Street, and was part of a programme of events that marked the end of Efford: Capital of Culture for Plymouth exhibition.
Cider made from apples harvested through the Grow Efford project was also uncorked.
Other greens picked on the walk included nettles and cleavers – the young shoots of the sticky-bud plant can be used as a tonic.
The biodiversity excursion gave an encouraging pointer to the quality of air in Plymouth.
Tiny ferns that are indicators of clean air were found growing a few yards away from the road down an alley alongside the arts centre.
Younger walkers also collected creepy-crawlies.
Sustainable living expert Tess was delighted with the turnout for the walk, the latest in a series in the city.
"We had 28, the biggest turnout we've had," she said.
"We added the leaves to some soup at the end of the cooking to show you don't have to do a lot to enjoy wild food."
But she cautioned against harvesting any plant unless you were certain of what you were about to eat.
"Three-cornered leeks might be growing mixed with daffodils or bluebells. Both of those are poisonous and it would be easy to pull them up with the leeks without realising.
"It is better to pinch out leaves of most plants because that helps prune them and encourages growth rather than destroying them.
"But nobody would complain about hairy bitter cress being pulled up because it spreads so quickly.
"Most people interested in wild food are also interested in gardening, so would know what to do."
Efford: Capital of Culture is organised by arts project Take A Part, which uses creativity to boost regeneration. The project involves the Heart of Efford Community Partnership, the city council and the arts centre.