Forager's lockdown nettle diet raises Durham Wildlife Trust funds

Kirsty Pollard Image copyright Kirsty Pollard
Image caption Kirsty Pollard and husband Sam enjoy a refreshing mojito enhanced with wood sorrel and wild mint

A wildlife worker on lockdown survived on a diet of nettles, hawthorn leaves and gorse foraged on daily walks to raise money for charity.

Kirsty Pollard has been creating daily recipes with foraged food to raise money for conservation charity the Durham Wildlife Trust.

The online appeal urged donors to end her husband Sam's diet of nettles and gut weed by giving money.

The trust has faced a financial struggle during lockdown.

Ms Pollard, who lives in Gateshead, managed to turn her hand to making curries, cocktails and even ice cream with wild food.

She said: "We were determined to make the most of our daily walks. We tried a lot of new things, but I think gorse was the most surprising, it has a delicious sweet, coconut flavour."

Image copyright Kirsty Pollard
Image caption Kirsty's foraged fare (Top left clockwise) nettle bread; elderflower fritters; nettle, lemon and white chocolate muffins and gorse rum

Ms Pollard said donations from volunteers, totalling more than £3,300, had helped the trust carry on managing habitats for wildlife during lockdown.

She said: "The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging.

"We have had to continue our vital work to protect the natural environment, but have lost income from school visits."

As well as nettle-based dishes, Ms Pollard and her husband have also been tucking into wild leaf salads consisting of hawthorn flowers and dandelion leaves with a rosewater dressing.

Image copyright Kirsty Pollard
Image caption The wild leaf salad consists of hawthorn flowers, dandelion leaves, wood sorrel, ground elder, wild garlic and a rosewater dressing

Ms Pollard said: "The way to pick nettles is very carefully with gardening gloves.

"The tops of the leaves don't have stings so you can touch them.

"When you cook them they wilt down a bit like spinach and lose their sting."

Image copyright Kirsty Pollard
Image caption (Top left clockwise) Soap made with wildflowers, hawthorn tea, chocolate spread and nettle paneer saag aloo

'Fungi can make you sick'

Ms Pollard said would-be gatherers should familiarise themselves with the Wild Food UK Foragers' Code..

She said: "Firstly there are rules to keep you safe, so only eat plants that you are absolutely certain you know what they are.

"There are some plants and fungi that can make you really sick.

"Also forage off main footpaths to avoid the dog pee zones."

Ms Pollard said her husband's taste buds were not always tickled by her nettle inventions including nettle bread and even curry garnished with the stingy plant.

But he adored her version of dandelion flower donuts because he has a sweet tooth, she said.

Image copyright Kirsty Pollard
Image caption Dandelion flower donuts were a favourite of Ms Pollard's husband who has a sweet tooth
Image copyright Kirsty Pollard
Image caption Ms Pollard's husband got a bit fed up with her nettle recipes including wild garlic and cheese scones

Ms Pollard is planning to publish a foraging recipe book in the autumn to raise more money for the Durham Wildlife Trust.

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