Wild Food

We are just beginning our ‘hungry gap’ here in North Canterbury.

It’s a time of year when very little harvestable food is available. We still have the stored crops of winter and a few greens cheating the season in the tunnel house and protected positions, but there is no fruit or anything else beyond the freezer and the store cupboards. Eggs are a wonderful exception with both our ducks and chickens are laying more each day, building to a peak around the spring equinox. ‘Easter‘ eggs the northern hemisphere’s outcome.

So we wait with much anticipation for asparagus. Reflecting the quirky perennial lily that it is, both wild and cultivated asparagus arrives before anything else in early to mid October.

It will be a long six weeks.

Perhaps then, a perfect time to reminisce on the abundance of wild food available in this beautiful region on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

My foraging heroine Kate McMillan and I were recently asked by travel writer Kenji Hall to list wild foods in our region. Kate (and friend Mel) have taught our family a huge amount of what is available, where and when. However I think the following list still surprised us both! To my knowledge this is the first time this list has been published. Like all great reflectors of life, we have Kenji to thank for it.

I hope it’s a useful and interesting guide. It’s by no means complete or completely accurate. I’ll be using the next foraging year to add or change food, and obviously each season will dictate availability. But it seemed important to write it down somewhere. I hope you enjoy our photos as well!

SPRING

September

Whitebait
October

Asparagus
Dandelion

Dandelion on the Food Farm

Dandelion on the Food Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nettles
Watercress

November

Elderflower

My elderflower haul

My elderflower haul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild fennel
Samphire-
Brown and Rainbow Trout (October to May)
SUMMER

December

Wild cherries (both red sweet ones and black strains of morello, sour cherry)
Wild gooseberries
January

Wild apricots
Saltbush
Seaweed in summer
Crab

Nick and his home-made crab rake.

Nick and his home-made crab rake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon (January to April)
February

Much of the following Kaimoana (food from the sea) is available throughout the year but because Jan/Feb/March are our warmest months this is when we’re most likely to be at the beach/ out on the water collecting it.

Collecting Shellfish at Motunau

Collecting Shellfish at Motunau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post harvest picnic.

Post harvest picnic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cockles
Mussels
Pipis

Pipi feast

Pipi feast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crayfish
Paua (abalone)
TuaTuas

Tua Tuas

Tua Tuas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flounder
Cod
Kina (sea urchin)
Octopus
Squid
Kawahi (caught off the beach)

Beach Days. Mount Cass Beach, Waipara Valley.

Beach Days. Mount Cass Beach, Waipara Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seaweed
Nz spinach (all year round on beach)
Puha (like watercress)

Blackberries

Blackberries

Blackberries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTUMN

March/April/May

This is our main harvest period, for everything, both wild and cultivated. It’s hard to separate crops into months at this stage of the year, and everything seems to come both at once and continuously!!

Plums (including prunes and Damsons)

Wild plums.

Wild plums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples

Picking wild apples with friends.

Picking wild apples with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinces

Wild Quinces

Wild Quinces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pears
Grapes
Nashi
Medlar

Field mushrooms

Picking field mushrooms on ANZAC day.

Picking field mushrooms on ANZAC day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porcini

Probably our most prized wild food- Porcini.

Probably our most prized wild food- Porcini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puffballs
Boletes
Slippery Jacks

Chestnuts

Wild Chestnuts

Wild Chestnuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walnuts
Hazelnuts

Deer

May

Olives
Jerusalem Artichokes
Fennel

Duck
Rabbit
Hare
Venison

Grandfather and grandson in good hunting country.

Grandfather and grandson in good hunting country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pork
Goat
Tahr (like deer)
Chamois (like goat)
Pheasant

Roadkill Pheasant!

Roadkill Pheasant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quail
Turkey

 

WINTER

June/July/August

Eel, (year round though better in winter)
Wild parsnips
Wild parsley (flat)

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