We are creating Chiltern Forage Farm at a stunning site between Hughenden, Hampden and Chequers estates. Surrounded by historic woodland and pasture, we are working to return overgrazed fields and neglected trees to their biodiverse heritage. Having removed the sheep, we are regenerating the chalk hay meadows and introducing productive trees, shrubs and perennials. The area was known for its Cherry orchards with the last few specimens surviving in the hedgerows.
Initial foraging has produced Blackberry fruit leathers, Sloe reduction to colour and flavour chicken, Sorrel sandwiches, Nettle soup, floral dressings including Sweet Violet for lamb and Primrose for veal, and Elder Flower sorbet. Summer and autumn provide Black Cherries, Cobnuts, Rose-hips and Haws.
Plantings of more edible flowers, berries, fruit, foliage and even roots are planned as well as for uses such as Hazel pea sticks, Mistletoe and Holly for decoration and Blackthorn for pest control.
Habitats are being created such as a ‘dead hedges’ using fallen wood and prunings key to providing shelter to small mammals and birds from the red kites. A wild life pond is in the pipeline to provide much needed water in this free-draining area.
June’s opening for the NGS Gardens Open for Charity was ‘sold out’ despite Covid-19 restrictions.