Mapping the treasures

A sample of the wild food map. © 2011 Google - Map data © 2011 Tele AtlasA sample of the wild food map. © 2011 Google - Map data © 2011 Tele Atlas

Dan Hoye, a member of the Wanstead Transition Initiative, reports on the launch of Wanstead's wild food map.

Wanstead Transition Initiative is part of the Transition Town Movement that is growing rapidly around the UK, and the world. The Transition Town Movement is a social and environmental initiative designed to equip communities with the tools to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living and prepare for a future with less oil and a changing climate.

Wanstead Transition Initiative is made up of a group of people who live in and around the E11 postcode area. Still in its first year, the response from the community has been very encouraging. Events and workshops are held regularly, including eco-film nights and 'green drinks' at The Nightingale pub. With an active group of nearly one hundred locals, the Wanstead Transition Initiative aims to enable residents to learn – or relearn – essential skills such as food growing, sewing, mending, making new things from old possessions or learning about energy efficiency.

November sees the launch of a new project for the group. The Wanstead wild food map is an attempt to highlight the large amount of food that goes to waste in our gardens and streets. At this time of year there is a bounty of unharvested wild food that people are either unable to collect or simply don't recognise as food in this age of processed and packaged meals.

The aim is to create a directory of wild food within the streets, gardens and wilder corners of Wanstead. Residents are encouraged to contact the group with the location of wild food in their area. This might be a crab apple tree in your street, a great place for blackberries or a pear tree in your garden that you are unable to harvest.

For each source of wild food, the group would like to know: the location (house number and street or postcode); the type of food you have identified; and any other details you have (such as the best time of year to harvest).

This information will then be collated and published on a map on the Wanstead Transition Initiative website. Anyone will be able to access the information and find out about the availability of wild food.

The next step for the project will be to organise collections to pick surplus or unwanted fruit from gardens and public trees around Wanstead and distribute it amongst the local community.

To start to make use of the local produce, we are organising a chutney making workshop this month (see page 61). Chutney is a great way to preserve a seasonal glut of fruit or vegetables. It is just these kind of skill-sharing sessions that the group hope will enable residents to learn the essential skills needed to make Wanstead a more connected, friendly and sustainable place.

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