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.
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.
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!
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!