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History of Hedgerow Harvest to be recorded

September 24, 2013

Tree Council gets grant from Heritage Lottery Fund

Photo: Jonathan Billinger

Photo: Jonathan Billinger 

Volunteers drawn from Hampshire, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight recently signed up  to The Tree Council’s new Hedgerow Harvest History project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The call has gone out for others to join them.

The project was launched on 22 September at The Tree Council’s South East Tree Warden Forum at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey, Hampshire. The event brought together volunteer tree champions from communities across the region.

This oral history project, backed by an HLF grant of £97,300, will continue until June 2015. Its purpose is to capture the personal stories of people who gathered food from British hedgerows during World War ll and compare these with the experiences of European migrant communities who forage similarly today.

Margaret Lipscombe from The Tree Council explained:

“The project celebrates our heritage of hedgerow foraging and our initial call is for volunteers to train to be ‘story takers’. We will then ask people to come forward with their stories. We want to capture this knowledge before it’s lost – a living archive which will also demonstrate to a new generation the value of wild hedgerow food.”

“We’ll also work with communities to promote traditional conservation skills through local training events, including rejuvenating hedges and harvesting fruit. These, too, will be opportunities for new generations to learn from experienced foragers.”

Some of what’s involved in being a ‘story taker’ was outlined at the forum by Matthew Paskins of University College London who will be leading one-day training courses in oral history recording. Tree Wardens at the forum were asked to volunteer to be trained to collect oral histories using digital recorders and video cameras. They were also asked to come forward if they had foraged through the war, or knew someone who had foraged then or anyone from mainland Europe who actively forages today.

Margaret added;

“We’re very interested, too, in hearing from people in the wider communities across Hampshire, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight if they feel they can help with any aspects of our project,”

You can find out more at www.hedgerowharvest.org.uk/oralhistory, or phone The Tree Council on 020 7407 9992.

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