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The good foraging code

bottles of meadow buttercups

As foraging becomes more popular it is important to know what the rules are - both the legal rules and the ecological rules - before you set out with your basket.

Where can you pick?

Right of access to land (the right to roam in Scotland) does not mean a right to forage. If the land is privately owned then you must ask specific permission of the landowner to pick anything. This is especially important on farmland and the edges of farmland where, as well as livestock and crop issues, there may well be activities going on that you don't know about - whether that is a habitat restoration or chemical spraying, you do not want to be foraging there.

General foraging is usually not allowed in parks or recreation areas, but there may well be a specific area where it is allowed.

You can get a list of common areas from your council.

On a lot of land managed by the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and National Parks foraging is allowed but it is important to check as some have areas designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest or areas where ground nesting birds are common where it is not permitted.

The UK coast is mainly owned by the Crown and Conservation charities - both of which tend to be fine about foraging for personal consumption - though it is worth checking, particularly where there may be rare species under protection.

Where would you want to forage?

Think about what might have come before you - cars, peeing dogs, people's feet, chemical sprays, industrial residue - and make sensible decisions. Picking meadow buttercups from industrial wasteland isn't an issue but I'm not sure I would want to eat anything growing in that ground.

What can you collect?

The guide is that you can collect the 4 Fs - foliage, flowers, fruit and fungi. These are basically the parts of a plant which will naturally regenerate.

What can't you collect?

Anything that is protected - you can get a list of the protected species in the UK here.

You cannot uproot anything without express permission - this includes things like digging up wild garlic and replanting in your garden, just as much as taking rare orchids. It also includes lichen and moss. If you want lichen pick windfall pieces as they are already uprooted but leave anything on a tree, even a dead tree.

Anything not for your own consumption (commercial foraging needs proper permissions as so many areas have been destroyed by it)

I would add . . . .

Don't collect the first 10 of anything you see and never pick more than 10% from an area. Remember that this is food and habitat for birds, insects, amphibians, small mammals.

Never pick more than you KNOW you are going to use. Don't pick if you don't have the correct equipment with you - so don't pick flowers if you don't have water to carry them in, don't forage for mushrooms if you are stuffing them in pockets.

Always make sure you know what you are picking BEFORE you pick it.

Inspect for signs of insect eggs BEFORE you pick.

Do not trample an area while picking.

Consider whether taking your dog is appropriate - dogs can spook wildlife and farm stock even if they are well behaved and under control. Spooked birds abandon nests, spooked sheep can miscarry, you may not even realise.

It is really all about respect - respect for other people, respect for wildlife, respect for the countryside.

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
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As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
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Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
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It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
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Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
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My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
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Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
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As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
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This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
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This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
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I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
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This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
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That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
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What are you looking forward to doing today?
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At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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