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Dandelion leaves on the menu at launch of cross-Council scheme

NI Year of Food and Drink

Posted by Tourism NI

Published May 10, 2016

Dandelion leaves and Rosebay Willowherb were among the tasty treats on offer during a woodland forage on Monday as two local borough councils went ‘Wild About Food’.

Dandelion leaves on the menu at launch of cross-Council scheme

Forager Dermot Hughes leads children from local primary schools on a forage of local woodland

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council launched their joint initiative celebrating local produce in the village of Ballynure, which lies on the boundary of the two Council areas.  The Wild About Food project is aimed at celebrating locally sourced ingredients and is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund for a series of events.

Tied in to the themes of NI’s Year of Food and Drink the initiative will host workshops and cooking demos, foraging walks and fishing as part of its programme over the next five months.

Launched by the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough, Councillor Thomas Hogg and the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Billy Ashe, attendees were treated to a forage in local woodlands by experienced forager, Dermot Hughes. Local children from Woodburn Primary School, Carrickfergus and Ballynure Primary School joined in the fun with representatives from Tourism NI, Heritage Lottery Fund, local Councillors and community members.  

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Cllr Billy Ashe, explained: “This project is our contribution to the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink and we have incorporated many of the themes such as ‘Love Dairy’, ‘Bread and Baking’ and ‘Harvest’.

“So from ‘wild garlic pesto’ to the apple harvest, from May through to October, a wide range of exciting food workshops will be provided throughout the two Council areas.

Furthermore, this project will act as a reminder of the ecosystem processes which continue to provide us with food, air and water, reminding us of the importance of the natural world around us,” he said.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough, Councillor Thomas Hogg, added: With today’s reliance on supermarkets and the assumption that any food can be purchased at any time of the year, this project aims to remind people of the importance of local produce.

“It highlights how to make the most of ingredients which have not incurred thousands of air miles and the associated carbon foot print.

“So from salmon from our rivers to traditional homemade bread, this is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the fantastic local produce on our door step,” said Cllr Hogg.

In just a small patch of woodland, forager Dermot was able to teach local children about the versatility of dandelion for eating and drinking whilst encouraging the reluctant youngsters to taste some Lady’s Smock.

“It’s related to the cabbage and tastes like rocket with a lovely peppery flavour,” he explained. “Rosebay Willowherb can be cooked like spinach and with a little salt and pepper is a really good green veg.”

The Wild About Food programme will kick off on Saturday 14 May with a similar search for wild garlic. Participants will collect their natural ingredients before returning to the venue to learn how to make wild garlic pesto.

All workshops are free and suitable for all ages however booking is essential.

For more information on the range of workshops available please  and

Posted by Tourism NI

Produced by Tourism NI