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© Katherine Reekie

The Forager’s Garden Anna Locke introduces the Forager’s Garden, a place where gardeners, cooks and Nature converge

The forager’s garden describes an overall approach to gardening that is gentle, slow, inclusive and ecological. It is a garden that is prized for its wilder productivity, where there is a dynamic relationship flowing from garden to kitchen, as cooks go outside to source their essential, interesting foods and flavours, found growing on their doorsteps. Foods that would have been foraged away from home in the past are intermingled with traditional orchard, herb, vegetable and wild gardens, all rolled into one. This garden is as much about cooking as it is gardening, waking up the cook and the gardener inside of us in equal measures.

The forager’s garden shares a lifestyle shift, where we see our gardens as places that provide for us, like an outdoor larder that contributes in a qualitative way to our diets. Seasonal gluts are preserved and planting is designed to spread variety throughout the year. It is a useful place, an ongoing project, where food is steadily added, season upon season, and the ecosystem being created is woven with itself and you!

Falling in Love with Plants My journey into the world of plants began with a herbal medicine degree, pouring over ancient medicinal herbals, modern scientific journals and our phytotherapy coursework. I was captivated, possibly slightly obsessed, but then motherhood at 25 radically altered my path and the degree was abandoned.

I must have been pining for plants as a couple of years later I enrolled in a one-day-a-week, year-long RHS course in gardening at Capel Manor College. I had a beautiful commute to

Gunnersbury Park on the overground, fascinated by wildflowers like rosebay willowherb and golden rod along the wayside and the very botanically interesting walk through the park. These first steps on my gardening journey explain why, when it comes to plants, I am drawn to their uses, their medicinal or nutritional value and now, with permaculture insights, as supports for other plants or garden species.

Like many of you, when I create gardens, I’m in it for the lifestyle – lotions, potions, jams, pickles – and experimenting in both garden and kitchen is a way of life to be enjoyed. I am a massive fan of the forest garden system and I have developed loads of them, on many different scales, for over a decade. I have evolved a pattern to follow when creating these gardens, realising it takes only an average of issue 108  summer 2021

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