When Penny, the Peckham Pickler, said there were Mulberry’s to be found in Peckham and that she would be bringing a selection along to the August East Dulwich WI event, I contemplated for a moment whether I would be attending a designer handbag sample sale and not the urban foraging talk I was expecting.
I took the Greek God(zilla)’s credit card along with me, just in case.
She was, of course, talking about mulberries, blackberries, cherries, walnuts and many other kinds of wild fruit and nuts (alas not of the Dairy Milk variety) that can be found by rummaging around in our local parks and shrubberies. For free!
You can find mulberry trees in Peckham Rye Park and also in grounds of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, if tree spotting is your thing.
However, if you don’t fancy the idea of rummaging around freely in the bushes but are still interested in being able to identify and harvest edible delights for your family, you can join in one the foraging events (!) supported by Burgess Park.
I had absolutely no idea of the scale of this community before meeting the Peckham Pickler. It was really quite fascinating to hear all about the local community projects that Penny is involved in and to learn there is even such a thing as guerrilla gardening in South-East London!
Penny admits she does get a few disapproving looks from passers-by sometimes, especially when she is out foraging with her ladder and kids in tow, but considers the real crime to be watching fresh local food; food which is already there, needs no funding and only a little supervision, go to waste.
Couldn’t agree more, we all thought, between mouthfuls of food.
With a particular interest in preserving, the Peckham Pickler brought along a selection of homemade pickles, jams and jellies for us to try, all produced using locally sourced fruit.
To accompany the preserves, the EDWI President herself laid on a spread of delicious bread and cheeses – also all sourced locally from the deli downstairs.
Although foraging is probably not something I would consider forgoing the weekly grocery shop for, I’d definitely like to take Zachy fruit picking for fun. The fact that I can also do this in Peckham Rye park means it is even easier for us (me) to organise. There are obviously some guidelines I will need to swot up on first – like how to recognise the edible fruits from the non-edible ones (quite important to know!) but if I play it safe enough and stick to the common varieties then hopefully we will all remain poison-free.
So, the next time you spot someone propping a ladder up outside your house, they may not actually be just about to rob you… and may only be after a little poke around in your shrubbery instead.
To find our more about The Peckham Pickler and foraging in general please click here.
Next month we have a talk from the Director of the Horniman Museum. If you live locally and are interested in joining the East Dulwich WI or even just fancy popping along to the next event, you can find all the information you need by clicking here.
Mulberry or mulberries?