Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Free food - the gleaners

OK I enjoy a bit of tucker now and then (arcane language learned from Billy Bunter books), and if it comes free of charge, so much the better. And right now we're in the gleaning season, and it has been a bumper crop. The hedgerows have had an abundance of blackberries and damsons. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to come across a wild plum tree, with the ripe fruit dropping off with the lightest tapping. At the weekend I'm going to checkout my favourite row of chestnut trees to see how the crop is this year - it hasn't been too good for a few years.

Last weekend while walking on a right of way across a harvested potato field out at Bradfield, with ease I picked up half a rucsac of spuds left behind by the quick and labour-light machinery. The previous weekend I saw dozens of older people at Bures loading up bags on their bike crossbars, stuffed full of onions missed by the mechanised farming processes. I didn't have any bags with me so I couldn't join in. I wonder if I could have got away with "give those to me, I'm the landowner"?

And tomorrow it's apple picking day. I'm off with some pals (something like "Last of the Summer Wine") to a secret location in north Essex, on the site of an old WW2 US airforce base, where, so the story goes, the guys planted pips from their apples, and we now have some very old but still productive wild apple trees. Some for eating, and some for freezing, methinks.

So where are all these free food places? Well I'm not putting the locations on here am I? Sharing it with many thousands of others. Anyway, it's too late for much of this stuff. I was warned by Facebook pal Louise Denyer that "Andrew, you should know that the optimum time to pick blackberries is before the end of August otherwise they are "Devil's food" and are very bitter!" I told her I don't believe these old wives' tales about "the devil's food". Anyway, I had picked them to smear on my forehead and cure my baldness.


  1. Then I'm not telling you where I'm getting my wet walnuts!

  2. It must be a good walnut crop this year. We've already had two loads of surplus from friends.



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