April 2011

On Saturday 7th May, around 25 people gathered for the monthly Invisible Food walk.  We stopped off outside the Marcus Lipton youth club to gather fresh lime leaves to stuff later on. We collected the lightest ‘lime’ green ones, not the older, tougher ones.

Picking lime leaves

We picked enough for a few stuffed leaves each
We moved onto Elam Street space to see how the trees we planted recently with Grove Adventure Playground are doing there. It’s been very dry but most of them are doing well. The hazel are adapting the best and the dog rose are looking the most parched. Some of the trees may need to be replanted in better locations. We used a windscreen wiper to stake a tree when we’d run out of canes. Handily available from the mechanics arches opposite.
Reusing windscreen wipers

The pond was a great place to 'fish'



Stuffing lime leaves, the key is to not put too much stuffing in!


We tried them all at once. The children were curious. Most responses were positive!



We made may baskets to collect some wild plants

May baskets were traditionally filled with may flowers and hung on a neighbours door as a surprise. Some of the participants from the Spring training day were around to continue to develop their plant id and knowledge with you. We discovered 12 plants in the area to work with and learn about: elder, nettle, mouse ear chickweed, plantain, blackberry, horseradish, daisy, clover, thistle, dog rose, cleavers and dandelion. 

There are new trees planted in the pond area, including 2 black mulberry trees and mistletoe growing on these fruit trees


After food and foraging, we discussed the EU ban on Traditional Herbal Medicine, discussing some of the points you can find on this link and with the following ethos:

“Invisible Food is a skill share. We operate without an expert to increase our  skills, resilience and self-reliance. We act safely, responsibly, exercising common sense, self-help, and helping each other with respect and tolerance.

With the complexity of the EU Ban on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products, I wanted to get someone to come and talk to us to get us up to speed on a complex legal issue. I haven’t found that person yet so in the meantime, and with the above in mind,  let’s work with our questions and concerns to raise our awareness ourselves and prick up our critical antennae.”


Elderflower fritters

(makes 16 / serves 4 or 5 as a feast)

For the batter:

  • 1 egg
  • 225 ml / 8fl oz Iced Water
  • 140g / 5 oz Plain flour
  • 1 pinch salt


For the  Fritters

  • Sunflower oil
  • 16 heads elderflower
  • icing sugar
  • fresh lemon


  •  Make the batter first by beating the egg, then slowly adding the water, continuing to beat the mixture as you do so
  • Slowly sift the flower and salt into the egg-and-water mixture, whisking to make sure there are no lumps
  • Heat oil in pan until almost smoking point
  • Dip elderflower heads in the batter and fry for 10 secs or until golden brown
  • Drain on a kitchen towel, continue frying
  • Squeeze lemon juice on fritters and dip them in oil
  •  Take turns frying so the frierdoesn’t miss out

    Click on image to enlarge


 We used lime leaves to stuff. Here is a diagram of how to stuff traditional vine leaves from Claudia Roden’s book Mediterranean cooking.

Click on image to enlarge

 Elderflower and Rhubarb jam

6 large umbels elderflowers

1.5 kilos / 3lbs rhubarb

1.5 kilos / 3lbs sugar

1 lemon

Cut the thickest stalks from the elderflowers and tie them in a square of muslin, put the bag in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. cu the rhubarb and pile it on top of the elderflowers. Add the sugar over the rhubard and cover the bowl tightly with a weighted plate. Leave for 12 hours. Open and stir. Leave for another 12 hours. Put the contents of the bowl into a large saucepan, heat gently to dissolve the sugar but do not allow to boil. Cool a little and return to the bowl for another 12 hours. Covered tightly again. Then take out the elderflowers, tip the rhubarb into a saucepan, add the lemon juice and bring slowly to the boil  and stir. Boil rapidly for 10 mins until the jam wrinkles. Pour into warm dry jars, cover with waxed circles when hot.

From Edible wild plants and herbs by Pamela Michael

Plantain cream for bites and stings

4 tbsp fresh chopped plantain leaves
150 ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
2 tbsp almond oil
1 tsp beeswax
2 tsp emulsifying wax
2 tsp glycerine
1 tsp vitamin C powder

  1. 1. Wash and chop the plantain leaves. Divide into two – put one half in a bowl and the other half in a pan. Cover the plantain in the bowl with the water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. 2. In the pan, add the olive (or sunflower) and almond oils to the plantain and heat gently to simmering point. Don’t allow to boil – if it starts boiling, take off the heat immediately. Once at simmering point, remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes to cool.
  3. 3. Drain the infusion, taking out the plantain leaves. Set the liquid to one side.
  4. 4. Drain the infused oil into another pan, extracting the plantain leaves. Heat the oil again. Add the beeswax and emulsifying wax and melt, stirring – you are aiming for a foamy consistency.
  5. 5. Add 16 tbsp infused water to the pan and whisk to achieve a consistency like salad dressing. Add the glycerine and vitamin C powder.
  6. 6. Pour into sterilized glass pots and seal.


USE: Apply to affected area as often as needed.

STORAGE: Keeps for 3 months in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 Pre walk info

Start time
11.45am at Loughborough Centre, corner of Barrington Road and Angell Road, SW9 7TP We’ll leave around 12pm.

Bring suitable clothes for an outdoor walk with some overgrown areas. Bring a picnic to eat outside after the walk. Please get in touch for more info. or click here for a map http://projectdirt.com/events/invisible-food-monthly-walk-10

Previous walks:

In April, we collected wild herbs for a spring tonic soup and sang songs from around the world with Shilpa Shah.

In February, we beat the winter blues with a party in Myatts Field, with some food prepared by Invisible Food participants. The end of January and the beginning of February is the time of the Fire Festival of Imbolc, when the earth in the northern hemisphere is awakening from the stillness of Winter.

In November we looked for frost resilient edible plants such as the plentiful chickweed and goosegrass which loves this time of year. Now’s the time to harvest goosgrass while it’s young. We tasted goosegrass seed coffee made with seeds collected in dry July. Back at base we made festive wreaths from evergreen plants and a lavender and rose face cream.


The aim of Invisible Food is to strengthen social cohesion in disadvantaged areas throughout Lambeth, and specifically in the Coldharbour ward, through engaging with the natural environment. Invisible Food walks and workshops aim to increase opportunities for local residents to contribute their environmental, botanical and culintary knowledge and experience as part of a reskilling process towards a low carbon future.



Planting fruit and nut trees in Elam Street space April 20th 2011

Grove Adventure Playground and Invisible Food, are celebrating the launch of the RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood campaigns,by rolling up their sleeves to be part of a tree planting movement to double native trees and woods in the UK.

This year, RHS Britain in Bloom has teamed up with the Woodland Trust to giveaway up to 200,000 free tree saplings to be planted by communities across the UK. Both the RHS and the Woodland Trust are supporting the United Nation’s 2011 International Year of Forests to raise awareness of conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and recognise the benefits trees bring to our wildlife and communities.

Grove Adventure Playground children, supported by Lambeth Parks and Invisible Food volunteers will be planting at Elam Street Space on Wednesday 20th April between 3 and 5pm.

Ceri Buck, of local wild food group Invisible Food said “The children will be planting wild fruit and nut saplings that they will see grow into beautiful food-giving trees as they grow older. Parents are also invited to help plant the trees. The more the local community is involved in creating our green spaces, the safer and more well kept they will be.”

Children will also learn about the Green belt movement in Kenya, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, which plants trees to create better communities, to increase self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods, security, and environmental conservation.  This is Wangari’s message to young people around the world,

“I want young people to know that despite the challenges and constraints they face, there is hope. I want to encourage them to serve the common good. My experiences have taught me that service to others has its own special rewards. I also have a lot of hope in youth. Their minds do not have to be held back by old thinking about the environment. And you don’t have to be rich or give up everything to become active. Respect nature, treat her with dignity, give back as much as we take away” 

Wangari Maathai planting a tree in Kenya

Stephanie Eynon, Community Horticulture Manager, RHS, said, “RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood enables people to join together to improve their local communities and restore civic pride through long-term, sustainable projects which are also beneficial for wildlife. We are delighted to be partnering with the Woodland Trust in order to focus this year’s launch on trees.”

Event details

Wednesday 20th April 2011

Elam Street Space, SE5    3 – 5pm


Contact Ceri Buck, Invisible Food

07963 446605 or invisiblefood@gmail.com