Just around the corner from our house is a secret field – at least I have never met anyone apart from me who has snuck into it. It has bushes and bushes of beautiful mirabelle plums, yellow, red and purple, and on the first time I discovered it, there were sitting, in perfect fellowship (or so it seemed to me) a red fox and a black cat. The cat has reappeared on other occasions when I have been foraging there, as the plums make excellent jams.

This year, behind the field pictured above, the Bancroft russet orchard has been producing wonderful fruit, despite one of the trees having fallen over in the mid-summer winds. The fruit are big and taste excellent. We go there every year but this has been the best for some time – as all foraged fruit has been this year.

The field, as parents with small children will know, is that next to Milton Keynes’ concrete cows. It is a good field in May for elderflower, and in years past (not so much this year) has been good for blackberries. Having bagged the russets, I discovered a damson tree near the Bradwell social club that I thought had been felled along with the adjacent plum trees along the redway between the bowling club and the social club: this was a good find as the parish council has coppiced or cut back nearly all the damson trees in the Bradwell Glebe which have been a good source of fruit for us for the last 5 years.

It is a time of year when we are thinking about school again and yet the exuberance of fruitfulness makes life seem like one long holiday! Foraging is really one of the great things we have enjoyed about life in this city. Those unacquainted with local orchards could do worse than start here for a guide. Parks Trust information is here.

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About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

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