Sussex foraging for recipes, remedies and rituals

Christine Iverson
Christine Iverson

Vicky meets... Christine Iverson author of The Hedgerow Apothecary: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals

What sparked your passion for foraging and hedgerows?

Since childhood I’ve had a love of the countryside and enjoyed making and baking. Moving to a Sussex village 18 years ago gave me the opportunity to walk the hedgerows with my family and discover edible treats for free. I began to research what each plant could be used for and found a wealth of wonderful folklore and superstition, recipes and natural remedies which really sparked my enthusiasm to learn more.

How did you develop your knowledge?

I am completely self-taught from books and from attending talks and workshops. I began writing monthly for Funtington parish magazine nine years ago as a way to teach myself and also I feel passionately that this knowledge needs to be shared or it will be lost. I’d like it to think that my book will get people out into the hedgerows; exploring for native plants, learning about how our ancestors lived and making simple and safe remedies for common ailments.

What is your favourite local foraging spot?

Every forager has a mental map of where to find the best plants and berries. My village is my main stamping ground and I’m lucky to have friends who let me forage on their land, in exchange for some homemade goodies of course!

How long have you been using natural ingredients in recipes, remedies and rituals?

I can’t remember a time when natural remedies weren’t part of our family routine. We always reach for elderberry rub at the first sign of a cough and rosehip syrup helps to boost our vitamin C through the winter months. Aloe Vera is put on sunburn and the ‘Itchy Witch Stick’ is invaluable for stings and insect bites.

What can you tell us about bluebells?

I’m lucky enough to live close to a bluebell wood and was fascinated to find that these beautiful places had a more sinister history. A bluebell wood is an especially dangerous place for families as the faeries will use the bluebells to trap you and kidnap little children! On the plus side if you can turn one of the flowers inside out without tearing it, you will win the heart of the one you love.

Do you share your knowledge?

Yes, I love sharing my knowledge and I give talks to Women’s Institute groups and horticultural societies and I run an autumn Folklore and Foraging workshop at Tuppenny Barn. I will be at The Wandering Witches Art and Craft Fayre on November 3 at Portchester Community Centre, and then Funtington Church Christmas fair on December 7. Observer readers are very welcome to attend my book launch event on October 29, which is free of charge. Just register in advance: www.tuppennybarn.co.uk/event/the-hedgerow-apothecary-book-launch

When can we get hold of the book?

Now! The Hedgerow Apothecary: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals is published by Summersdale – www.Summersdale.com