Have you ever gone for a walk and come back with your pockets bulging with fruit? Ever wondered what variety of apple tree that is, and if its a cooker or an eater? Ever wished that you could pick cherries straight from the tree instead of buying them, preserved in plastic, shipped half way across the world, from a supermarket? Help is at hand.
As more and more people become conscious of ‘food miles’, and of the benefits of growing and sourcing local food, it’s no wonder that the Transition Town Wellington (TTW) group have taken matters into their own hands. “We’re so lucky, living here,” says Holly Regan-Jones, one of the founder members of TTW which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. “For a small town like ours to have no fewer than three community orchards is amazing. But not enough people know about Swains Lane, Trinity Orchard or the Community woodland by the Basins – and people don’t realise that the fruit that’s growing there is free to pick for anyone and everyone.”
Helen Gillingham, a keen gardener and an active member of TTW’s sustainable food group, decided to do something about it. She spent months cycling and walking around the town sketching and taking notes. Then meticulously created a hand-drawn map using coloured pencils. The Wellington Foraging Map is a real treasure map, but rather than buried treasure, it shows where to find apples, plums, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, walnut and hazelnet, rhubarb, sloe, aronia, herbs… – the list goes on.
“I know that we haven’t got every site on the map – once you start looking, you see more and more! It’s amazing how much more I’ve learnt about what’s growing around our town by doing the map. And people have been great at letting us know what we’ve missed, so we can show even more on the next edition – hopefully,” said Helen.
The map, designed by local ‘ethical designer’ Simon Parkin, has been sponsored by Eat:Wellington and Brazier’s Coffee Roasters. Bev and Sarah Milner-Simonds, who organise Wellington’s annual food festival in September, are delighted with the response. “We’re giving out copies to all the local primary schools. It’s a brilliant way to get children outside into the fresh air; the icons will help them identify all sorts of plants and trees; and it’s great for brushing up their map-reading skills. And the bonus is a harvest of delicious, healthy fruit at the end of the day – or maybe an extra helping of apple crumble!”
Copies can be found at the tourist office, museum and library, at Brazier’s coffee shop in Tonedale, or downloaded from www.ttw.org.uk. For more information or to request a copy of the map email to: email@example.com