Castlerock pupils take on a real ‘Bush Tucker Trial’!

PUPILS from Hezlett and Ballyhackett primary schools have taken part in their own version of a Bush Tucker Trial!

The kids took a walk on the wild side last week to mark Waste Reduction Week 2013 with the theme ‘Love Food Hate Waste’. On a blustery and cold Wednesday lunchtime, the pupils ditched their school dinners and had a forage in Downhill Forest with horticulturalist, Gareth Austin to see what ‘bush tucker’ was on offer.

Pupils from Hezlett and Ballyhackett Primary School who took part in a forest forage last week. INCR48-134NF

Pupils from Hezlett and Ballyhackett Primary School who took part in a forest forage last week. INCR48-134NF

Sampling daisy leaf and daisy flowers, nettles, dandilion leaves and pantane, Gareth was able to educate the pupils on what culinary delights could be found right on their doorstep.

The primary three and four pupiils from Hezlett, and the primary five, six and seven pupils from Ballyhackett weren’t afraid to have a taste - in fact many even enjoyed their new culinary experience!

The event conlcuded with a cookery demonstation in the forest by leading local chef Emmet McCourt.

The aim of the project was to highlight the importance of reducing waste, and during the cookery demonstration Emmet showed the children how to make a delicious soup and a risotto from left overs.

Pupils from Hezlett and Ballyhackett Primary School who took part in a forest forage last week. INCR48-135NF

Pupils from Hezlett and Ballyhackett Primary School who took part in a forest forage last week. INCR48-135NF

Speaking to The Times, Gareth explained: “It’s important to make woods interesting for kids, not just sterile places they visit with their dogs

“The kids from Ballyhackett and Hezlett really got involved, from eating the stinging nettles, ground elder and even the bitter dandelion leaves -every few minutes I was being asked can I eat this?”

Gareth went on: “Kids love the idea of ‘wild food’ and done in a controlled manner it can expose kids to the concept of wild food and make food a more current thing, not just something that lives in the fridge. County Londonderry is full of wonderful woodland, every child living in big cities in the UK would love what we have on our doorsteps, and its important that we as adults, parents and educators utilise these facilities for our kids.”

Coleraine Borough Council’s Recycling Officer, Barry Tapster added: “ Today’s event helped to focus our attention on where food comes from, and on how we should pay attention to what we eat so to avoid unnecessary waste. Foraging is an excellent way for us to save money on supermarket purchases.”