15 May 2015

Foraging Fever

From Country Life, 9:30 pm on 15 May 2015

Foraging for food on Banks Peninsula can uncover a wide range of delectable delights.

Cosmo Kentish-Barnes (below right) spent a day at Port Levy with wild foods guru Peter Langlands (above), who has penned several regional foraging guides when he's not been working as an environmental researcher, ornithologist, ecologist and photographer.

Port Levy is a long, sheltered bay with a population of well under 100. In the mid-19th century it was the largest Māori settlement in Canterbury with a population of about 400 people.

Peter used to go to Port Levy as a child. On the west side of the bay is a rundown wharf whePort Levy forage CKB IMG cmre his father use to smoke and read the paper while Peter played on the rocks dotted with mussels, oysters and clams.

When Cosmo visited, Peter waded into the murky bay to find shellfish and two varieties of edible seaweed; bladder kelp and wakame. It's been estimated that there are 900 varieties which inhabit New Zealand's coastline and locally about 10 species are easily harvested for eating.

Within minutes of walking along the road around bay, Peter filled a bag with wild food from the overgrown verge. He found puha, spinach, sea beet, calendula flowers, sorrel, spinach, celery, wild fennel, native celery and Mallow.

He says "We've really got a good diversity of foraging options with quite a temperate micro climate. We've got introduced species, native species we've got a sheltered coastal embayment, we've got fresh water coming in so it's just the diversity of the habitats and the foraging environments."

Check out Peter's wildfoods blog.