In early 2011 we were approached by Rhug Organic Estate for help with a project they ha been working on with their customers – wild food, ethically and sustainably sourced from the land surrounding the estate.
Rhug Estate is part of the ancestral home of Lord Newborough, as well as being home to the fabled bison burgers of North Wales – a favourite stopping point for travellers heading along the A5 for Snowdonia and Anglesey. Their organic farm supplies quality meat and other produce wholesale and through their farm shop.
Prior to this we have been running one-day wild food and foraging courses, as well as bushcraft and wilderness skills courses that feature tuition on foraging – commercial foraging was going to be something new!
We spent several days exploring the farmland and woods around the estate, establishing where the largest quantities of wild food were to be found and noting areas where we could expect to find plants that would be of use later in the year. After that it was just a case of getting the word out to the chefs, sourcing ways of shipping the goods internationally and ensuring that everything arrives in the best possible condition.
We are now approaching our first anniversary of this project, and the feedback from the chefs continues to be positive. For the customers it has meant learning how to use the foraged items (a distinct difference in flavour, quantity and size compared to the farmed equivalents), and for us it has been an introduction into the world of gourmet cookery. We were also joined on several occasions by chefs and staff from the restaurants that use our produce, introducing them to the world of hopping over barbed wire fences and hunting for elusive plants!