Kensal Green Cemetery was the venue for our nettle collecting activities on 25th April.

I visited the site quite early on the day of the workshop to locate the plants and was advised by one of the cemetery receptionists as to where to find the best one – she herself makes nettle tea and so was a local expert!

The cemetery is rich with plants and trees that can be foraged for food – dandelion, violets, primrose, hawthorn, ground elder, cleavers and more. It also backs on to Regents Park canal so is a permanent extended green space – so valuable in our cramped city!

We found plenty of nettles!

Having harvested 3 carrier bags of stinging nettles we gathered in my kitchen for a short discussion about the benefits of using nettles – as a herb, as a fabric and as an homoeopathic remedy. My nettle trousers bought from a Trader at a festival last year were a highlight!

Preparation of the pesto was quick and easy – enjoyable time was spent tasting and adjusting the ingredients.

Nettles are available all year around and can be used as you would spinach in dishes such as lasagne. They can be steamed as a side dish, added to stews or made into soup although when they ‘flower’ (June onwards) they can get a bit tough.

There are many recipes on line and websites outlining their health benefits of this free and abundant, highly versatile and nutritious food!

See photos of our pesto making here

Sally Ibbotson

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