We Love Forests: Fungi foraging with children
Last week I went on a fungi foray course held by River Cottage's John Wright. I had booked myself on the course following the River Cottage Summer Fair. John runs his own foraging courses and I was more than a tad excited when I spotted that he runs some in the New Forest, where I live. More on that experience later in the week, this post is about a spot of fungi foraging that I took Kitty, my 7 year old on locally this weekend.
One of the reasons that I booked myself on a fungi foray was to be able to give some answers to my daughters inquisitive mind when out walking in the forest and although I obviously didn't become an expert overnight I did pick up some knowledge and identifying skills along the way.
We journeyed to a local spot in the woods with a basket and knife to collect some fungi to bring home and identify. I loved explaining to her how you can identify some species by which trees they grow under, how digging out the whole fungi is important in identification, differences in the gills and even about making spore prints. It was a joy to see her soak up that information like a sponge.
We identified a handful of the fungi we collected when we got home bad it's whetted both of our appetites to hunt for more and learn. I also pocketed a couple of handfuls of Amethyst Deceivers, which despite their dodgy sounding name are delicious fried in some butter with salt and pepper!
It goes without saying that you should take great care when foraging fungi with children. I am working to the theory that I will eat what I can identify as safe with 100% certainty and even then I won't let my kids eat them - luckily for me they don't like mushrooms! Hand-washing after handling fungi is essential, I packed some baby wipes and anti-bac hand gel for Kitty to use before we headed home. Little fingers can easily go into mouths and up noses (charming I know) and hand washing can stop any nasties on hands being ingested.
The Forestry Commission is very clear on what you can and can't do with regard to picking and collecting fungi.
If you would like to join in this week, the We Love Forests linky runs every Monday for a week. Simply join in as an when with anything forest-based, a day out, a walk, a spot of Photocise, craft, activity and so on.