The sun is bursting through the tall windows when I walk into the meeting room and I choose a seat directly in the path of the warming rays. The smell of fresh coffee from Caffi Florence mingles with the nose-wrinkling aroma from a pile of wild garlic leaves on the front table. I see from the handout that we’ll be shown how to make Ramsons Pesto sauce later. I’m with 13 others at a Caffi Florence workshop, Loggerheads Country Park entitled; ‘ Hedgerow Remedies, Weed Medicine’.
Our tutor, Non Owen says; ‘weeds are wonderful,’ and gives us each a sample of nettle iron tonic, made in a previous session. (From nettle tops, dried apricots, orange peel and some good red wine). There are approving murmurs and ‘Mmms.’ ‘Tastes a bit like sherry,’ the lady next to me says, her eye-brows raised.
Non hands around a dish of dried rose hips for rose hip infused honey, telling us that they have 20-40 times more vitamin C than oranges. There is silence as we watch the sun glint off the stream of honey Non is pouring into a pan.
It is left to simmer whilst she moves on to Ramsons (wild garlic). ‘It’s an antibiotic and a good spring tonic and cleanser,’ she tells us before turning on the hand blender. We all lean back as Non switches to ‘turbo’ and prepares to lower the blender into a jug of oil and wild garlic leaves. But it turns out to be quite tame and no-one gets covered in green slime. Soon the liquid is the colour of a woodland and the meeting room smells like an Italian restaurant. Non tastes it as she walks across to give us a sample. She stops suddenly in her tracks, ‘Wooa,’ her eyes widen. We all have a taste and experience that ‘kick’ as it slides down the back of the throat. The room is filled with the sound of fourteen people tasting the green paste, smacking our lips, sucking in our cheeks, making sounds like appreciative cattle, ‘Mmmm.’
Meanwhile, the rose hip honey simmers on the stove and a Caffi Florence waitress comes in to take our drinks orders.
Next, dandelion coffee. ’Good for the liver.’ Non prepares the dried roots and passes around the resulting pale brown liquid. Eyes are screwed up, mouths are pursed. It won’t be replacing my usual morning coffee, but I think of my liver and gulp it down.
Just in time, our drinks are delivered, along with a tray of home-made cakes - lemon, fruit and chocolate brownies. The weekly Nordic Walking Group strides past the window, their poles clicking on the path. Perhaps they’d benefit from our next weedy remedy, a chickweed bath soak?
Finally the rosehip honey is ready. Non decants it into small brown jars for us to take home for a vitamin C boost.
As I leave, I can still taste the wild garlic on the back of my tongue and I see there’s Ramsons soup on the Caffi Florence menu. Non was right, weeds are wonderful and FREE.
www.nonowenherbalist.co.uk Medical Herbalist and Aromatherapist
www.caffiflorence.co.uk Workshop programme