Food For Thought

Wild and Slow Fest 2012

By Biddy White Lennon.

Following on the amazing success of Wild and Slow Fest 2011, the first ever wild food festival, the crew of volunteers from the Sugarloaf Club Slowfood convivium are delighted to announce that Wild and Slow Fest 2012 will take place on 10th and 11th November at Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co Wicklow.

Wild and Slow is unique as a worldwide festival; indeed it is probably only in Ireland that such an event can take place given our abundance of wild green leaves, flowers, berries, nuts, wild mushrooms, wild game and fish.

We really had no choice. Last year 1,110 people signed up for and attended the Wild and Slow 2011 workshops and demonstrations. The Wild and Slow 2011 footfall at the street market was in excess of 2,800 and nearly 200 people enjoyed Ireland’s first ever complete wild food dinner (everything except the spuds).

This year’s Fest will contain all the same elements and more, with braziers to keep you warm, the street market offering wild food and drinks to buy and eat, wild food and drinks to take away, and stalls offering hundreds of preserved wild foods and drinks to enjoy at home over the winter months or to give as gifts.

Last year despite the delights of the market and the wild food dinner it was the workshops and demonstrations that really caught the imagination of the visitors. The Sugar Loaf crew were enormously grateful to the many well-known and highly respected people who volunteered their time and expertise to get Wild and Slow off the ground.

I mean who wouldn’t want to see Michelin -starred chefs like Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain and Ross Lewis of Chapter One giving a tasting demonstration of furred and feathered game, or Ed Hick showing you how to smoke wild game, or Bill O’Dea guiding you through the six months of the annual mushroom harvest (and telling you where to find them).

Other areas the workshops will explore this year include harvesting the hedgerows, fields and mountains for leaves, berries and nuts; harvesting the coast for seashore plants, seaweed and shellfish; talks on inshore fishing for Irish fish in season; and, by no means least, workshops on preserving wild foods using traditional methods. Passes for accessing the workshops give full access to all the workshops over the two days. All the talks, demonstrations and field walks will be given by enthusiastic experts and all are volunteers.

Slow Food and Wild & Slow is run on the total energy of volunteers and whilst at times we might be better than ‘Duracell’ we still have ‘slow’ on our name. Indeed, since last February slowies and artisan food producers have been gathering and preserving nature’s harvest. I have been foraging since I was a child. Once you catch the habit it’s hard to stop. But gathering enough to sell at a stall has been a whole new world and was hard but enjoyable work. For months on end the kitchen was full of aromas of fermenting, pickling and spicing; the cool dark cupboard where my stock steadily grew took up half of our north-facing garage. When I went to write up my list of preserved wild foods last year I found I had preserved and made 30 different products and that was without harvesting any mushrooms, game or fish (all of which I left to experts in their field, woodland, sea, or mountainside).

If you want to learn more about Wild and Slow Fest log onto:

In the coming weeks details of the workshops and demonstrations will be on the site. For now read about last year’s Wild and Slow and take a look at the Wild Food Templates to get the flavour of what delights are in store. Anyone interested in taking a stall will also find all the information they require on the site.

Wild & Slow Fest takes place on November 10th & 11th at Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co Wicklow.