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May 10, 2019

BushcraftLab have teamed up with survival instructor Steve Aley to bring our clients some useful tips and techniques for foraging for wild edibles.

The posts that Steve sends in to BushcraftLab - when he gets the chance given his hectic schedule (he’s still a serving member of the British armed forces) - will be relevant and timed to coincide with current seasonal foraging morsels to be found in the UK.

 Steve Aley will give us an in-depth look at what we can harvest from natures larder from the UK moors, river and canal banks, woodlands, open fields and coastal foraging.

In this first post, Steve introduces himself and just a few of the basic rules of foraging for wild edibles in the UK.


Greetings, I am Steve Aley (pronounced Ay-Lee), a survival instructor with over 19 years of military experience and adding to it daily.  Amongst various assignments I have spent a period of time at the Defence SERE Training Organisation; in short, a number of years teaching survival across UK defence. 

An area I have found to be a particular strength is the identification, preparation and consumption of wild edible plants.  I would like to impart some of what I have learned upon you; I am very well aware that some of you reading this may be seasoned foragers, being an instructor I enter every lesson knowing that you never stop learning.  See this as revision or maybe you will learn something new!

To kick off this series of blog posts I wish to cover some of the rudimentary ‘Rules’ the forager must obey, not only for safety, but also for legality and sustainability sake. Here goes:

  1. The number one rule of procuring food from the wild is 100% ID. If you do not know 100% what it is, DO NOT EAT IT.  Google Socrates, see how he died!
  2. You must always obtain the land owner’s permission to remove any plant matter.
  3. Take only what you need and if, there is not an abundance of that particular specimen, allow it to grow to be more abundant for future foraging.
  4. Along with rule 3, if you know a species to be endangered, LEAVE IT.
  5. Unless rules 2, 3 and 4 have been observed, do not uproot any plant, THIS IS ILLEGAL.
  6. Observe the local area, if there is any possibility of contamination from sewage; chemicals such as agricultural pesticides or any other pollutants, MOVE.
  7. Use a pair of scissors or a kniferather than tearing plants apart.

I must reiterate, 100% identification is absolutely imperative.  In the coming weeks I will be showing you various plants you can eat; my words are not carte blanche to munch away, invest in a good guide book, ideally two different ones or go foraging with someone who knows.  I take no responsibility for what you put in your mouth, wild food or otherwise!

Until next time, safe foraging.

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