On Saturday 15th August, 21 adults and 5 children walked from Wyck Gardens on Loughborough road, by Woolley House, to Loughborough Park, then back to the wild and wonderful herb garden between Loughborough and Angell Town estates.
Gathering at Wyck Gardens
Ceri Buck introduced the project and outlined the history to Invisible Food, as a project that researched an approach to play and different play types, and how the idea behind Invisible Food was to create an autonomous space in which the daily demands of time and business were ruptured by contact with nature , through conversation and with the task of the game, which was to identify and where possible, gather wild food.
Long line of walkers; crossing Coldharbour Lane
Invisible Food has evolved and grown from intimate walks with one other people to small group walks and now to larger group walks, but the focus on conversation and sharing knowledge and learning is the same. As Meg Wheatley writes, “Conversation is the way humans think together”.
Picking the blackest mulberries,
As well as conversation, and an opportunity to get to know neighbours and people in the community, Invisible Food is also about awareness of the miles food travels to get onto supermarket shelves, and the packaging it consumes to get there and be bought from there. The mulberry is a fruit which defies consumerism as it disintegrates in your hands when picked and needs to be eaten straight from the tree. The berry will stain your fingers and the juice will run up your arm as you reach up to pick it, but crushing leaves and rubbing them on red hands will get rid of most of the colour.
Invisible Food is not just about salvaging English traditions of food, it’s about all cultures and communities’ traditions of food. And especially about similarities between cultures and their use of herbs or food. It’s about a connection to the land which can develop whether you were born here or not.
Nibbling on yarrow, learning that clover is used in curry in Pakistan
In Loughborough Park, as well as the beautiful mulberry tree there is a mound with an elder tree surrounded by nettles. The elder is in the berry stage now and good for jellies, chutneys, cordials and even ink! Between the elder and the mulberry tree is a stretch of grass full of yarrow, ribwort plantain ( a natural anti-histimine and good for insect bites), clover leaves and dandelion.
Elder, hand and sky
Picking, holding, smelling, tasting, listening
Back on the Loughborough Estate, the walking group walked further into Wyck Gardens, the 1950s blocks above our heads. Blackberries are hidden in the borders, and the wild spaces are full of yarrow, nettles, dandelion, mallow. There’s a rowan tree at the entrance to the gardens but this year it hasn’t berried and last year, it did have berries but they didn’t look good.
Tower block, couple and yarrow
We took the path heading North from Wyck Gardens, after looking at all the mugwort that was used in former times to smoke, or for strong dreams , place some under the pillow. We moved onto the herb garden between Loughborough and Angell Town estates. A marvellous open space, the herb garden itself, overgrown. its treasures almost hidden, a rampant curry plant. But there’s plenty of sage, rosemary, mint and lemon balm for everyone.
Collecting mint for tea
We gathered mint, lemon balm, sage, thyme, rosemary, washed them and boiled up some water in the storm kettle to accompany the jams (mulberry & apples 2008, blackberry & apple 2009) and oat cakes.
Feeding the fire with sticks the two boys collected
So we had a little picnic sharing the food we had gathered and relaxing on the grass. Sharing food is one way of breaking down cultural barriers. Sharing food is what friends do together.
One of the Invisible Food Cafe hot flasks
Didn’t come on this one? Come on the next one.
First in the queue for jam
And come again, if you did come! See you on the 19th September for more berry harvesting. The hawthorns will be fully out then.
Haven’t got so excited by a poet as much as this one for a while…
Adnan+Stephen will be reading again on the 30th August 2009 at 7:30pm at the TORRIANO HOUSE 99 Torriano Avenue, 5 minutes walk from Kentish Town tube station.
In The Garden Of The Unknown Soldier
The soldier who that morning forgot
to shave his hair
and was punished for it by his Sergeant,
the soldier left fallen in the dust of battle,
the beautiful soldier, with his thick beard
that got to grow
little by little
until – after ten years – it was a forest
of tangled bush,
such that nightingales sang in his branches
and children always played on his swings
and lovers came closer in his shade
That soldier …
who grew into a park for the whole town,
what if that day he’d shaven his head …
Amman 28th September 1993
(Here it in Arabic here) http://www.adnanalsayegh.com/eng/index.asp?DO=AUDIO
Born in Al-Kufa (Iraq) in 1955, Adnan al-Sayegh is one of the most original voices from the generation of Iraqi poets known as the Eighties Movement. His poetry, crafted with elegance, and sharp as an arrowhead, carries an intense passion for freedom love and beauty. Adnan uses his words as a weapon to denounce the devastation of war and the horrors of dictatorship.
In 1993 his uncompromising criticism of oppression and injustice led to his exile in Jordan and the Lebanon. After being sentenced to death in Iraq in 1996, because of the publication of Uruk’s Anthem, a long poem in which he gives voice to the profound despair of the Iraqi experience- he took refuge in Sweden. Since 2004 he lives in London.
In the Spring of 2006, Adnan al-Sayegh read his poems at the third Al-Marbed Poetry Festival in Basra, Iraq. The poems upset the intolerant armed militia and al-Sayegh was threatened with death and with having his tongue cut out. He was forced to leave Basra in haste and through Kuwait to return to his exile in London.
Adnan is a member of the Iraqi and Arab Writers Unions, the Iraqi and Arab Journalists Unions, the International Journalist Organization, the Swedish Writers Union and the Swedish Pen Club.
He has received several international awards; among them, the Hellman – Hammet International Poetry Award (New York 1996), the Rotterdam International Poetry Award (1997) and the Swedish Writers Association Award (2005), and has been invited to read his poems in many festivals across the world.
I have a really great jam recipe that is perfect for small amounts of foraged fruits.. especially berries it is in ‘American” so you will need to translate the amounts, but the ratio is what is important
1 cup (that’s 8 ounces) fruit
1/2 cup organic sugar
3 teaspoons water (very small amount)
in stainless steel or glass pan melt the sugar in the water over low heat add fruit, bring to boil, boil 5 minutes
Done! It is very tasty, makes one jar, lasts in the fridge til it’s gone! Adjust the water, use even less with very watery fruits.
from Virginia at the Family school, Brixton Hill
“The Family School is up and running! We believe we are the only primary school in London which offers an experiential education where learning is active, participatory and purposeful, where learning is part of living and where parents are welcome to participate. We do not follow a set curriculum choosing to support an informal, emergent curriculum, which grows from the interests of individual children and the group as a whole and which values imaginative play and exploration as well as creative, academic and physical work.”