I truly love September. Maybe it’s because I am a perpetual academic, but it feels like a real new year – a fresh page and full of promise. It’s also a time of warmth, energy, abundance, growth and fruitfulness. It’s a really wonderful time on our coast. Here’s what we’ll be celebrating this month at Beach School:
By September, the Summer sun has been busy warming the seas and this is warmest our shallow Channel is all year round – perfect for paddling or, if you are feeling brave, taking a dip. However, if you are going in please make sure you are on a safe beach and be sure to check the following:
At the Beach School, we’ll be offering our participants the opportunity to paddle (up to their knees – Beach School rules!) and go rockpooling in these deliciously warmer seas. The sea is amazing, but please only go in with respect for the water.
One of September’s many gifts is the harvest. You may have noticed all the coastal plants losing their vibrant colours and turning to seed. However, did you know that many of them are edible? We’ll be looking for the rich berries of shrubs like sea buckthorn and, and brambles. But we’ll also be looking for the seeds of wild fennel and Alexanders:
The fennel that grows wild here in East Kent is a different variety to the bulbs that you can buy in the supermarket. Foraging legend Richard Mabey believes fennel was introduced to Britain by the Romans because of its many medicinal and culinary uses. The whole plant is edible. The seeds can be gathered between September and October and will smell stronger as it dries. It is particularly tasty with fish or a tea and is renowned as being a natural remedy for wind (!)
Alexanders is another herb that was introduced by the Romans, but now grows abundantly by the sea due to its tolerance to salt. Alexanders seeds can be used to add flavour and can be ground like pepper. It is believed its name is derived from being the ‘pepper of Alexandria’. The seeds contains an essential oil, cuminal, which is reminiscent of cumin and myrrh.
If you fancy a forage, please use a good field guide, only take what you can positively identify and follow the foraging etiquette. We’re looking forward to exploring these coastal seeds and berries at Beach School this month through using many of our senses – sight, touch, smell and maybe even taste. I look forward to sharing what we get up to.
At the Beach School, we want to help people of all ages connect with the coastal environment. This is an excerpt from our monthly newsletter, if you’d like to subscribe please follow this link.