Haw Berries, Chestnuts and Freedom

On the last two Wednesday afternoons we have been out with our Home Education group.  We have been enjoying the good weather, the fresh air and the freedom to explore and learn outdoors.

haw berry picking

The week before last, we went haw berry picking at the local smallholdings where some of our home educating friends live.  We had a lovely time, and got a small but reasonable harvest of berries.  Owl was particularly keen and he really stuck at it to make sure we collected enough.  We used the berries to make haw sauce, which Owl, Daddy and I liked very much – the younger children weren’t so sure, but really I thought it was rather similar to tomato ketchup!  It lasted a mere two days, so we need to go and pick some more berries before it is too late.

Chestnut picking

This week’s activity was chestnut picking in our local park.  The same friend who took us haw picking taught us how to do it.  For the uninitiated, you hit the chestnuts with a stick to get them down and then stamp on them to remove them from their cases – so all in all, a very child-friendly exercise!

chestnut picking and conker collecting

After a bit of tree-climbing and conker collecting, we returned home with our haul.  We haven’t decided yet whether to roast the chestnuts or make soup with them.  We are finding it difficult to choose so we will just have to go back to collect some more!

I love Autumn, it’s my favourite season, and there is so much fun to be had outdoors.  We always collect leaves and conkers, but this year we are all really enjoying learning more about foraging for food.  I think that the freedom to do this kind of thing together is one of the things I like most about home education.  I am grateful to my friends for sharing their knowledge and skills with us – it seems far more valuable to me than a lot of what goes on in school.  I wish teachers had the freedom to take children out of the classroom and spend time outdoors doing things like this.

The weather has changed now, so it might not be so idyllic but we are planning to carry on making the most of the Autumn bounty for as long as possible.  Closer to home, we have plenty of apples and a few pears in our garden, as well as some pumpkins which we will be picking soon.  This evening I went out in the dark and rain to pick some apples, feeling somewhat heroic, and Suburban Dad is now making chutney at nearly midnight.  It might be a bit crazy, but there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be found in using free sources of food.  The brambles might be over for this year, but we are not done with foraging yet!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

20 thoughts on “Haw Berries, Chestnuts and Freedom

  1. Nichola Fabfortymum

    wow that is a mighty impressive haul of chestnuts, we have a couple of horse chestnut trees with lots of conkers, but I would love a sweet chestnut. I would never have thought of making anything from Haw berries. I must send the girls out tomorrow with a basket, our hedges are crammed full of them! Fantastic pictures

    1. Hannah Post author

      I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it either, but I’m glad we tried it – need to get more berries this time now I know it’s so good!

  2. Kriss MacDonald

    I didn’t know one could make haw berry sauce so that’s something new I’ve learnt today! Loved how you’re teaching your kids about ‘foraging’ food from the wild too.

  3. The Reading Residence (@ihavecards)

    Gorgeous photos, and that’s quite the conkers haul! Yes, I know what you mean about wishing kids had this sort of freedom from school – so much to be learnt in the ‘classroom’ of a park. And I’m a little envious of the pumpkins – we’ll be planting ready for some of those here next year too – enjoy! #CountryKids

    1. Hannah Post author

      Thank you – the pumpkins were easy as we planted the seeds straight into a raised bed and left them to it. Occasional watering but mostly neglect, and they have done fine – so we’ll be growing them again next year!

  4. Luschka

    We’ve had an amazing time with foraging this autumn! Being not pregnant and not with newborn has given me loads of extra time 😉 we also use the haw for Hawthorne and rosehip syrup which is gorgeous as a tea in got water and great for staving off colds too!

    1. Hannah Post author

      Ooh, I’m so glad you said that, we picked rosehips today and also a few haw berries but not enough to be worth making sauce on their own so I will add them to the rosehip syrup, thank you for the tip!

  5. Coombe Mill - Fiona

    As you pointed out, it is so satisfying to forage for free and have fun while doing so. The bonus being that the children learn through play and everyone has some great fun outdoors. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  6. Pingback: Country Kids from Coombe Mill

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