Japanese Knotweed and Urban Foraging as Collective Performance

April 22nd 2016, Phytology - Bethnal Green Nature Reserve

A two-part Haystack event with Ljubljana based designer Gaja Mežnarić Osole.

Spring has sprung and the Japanese knotweed season is upon us. Please join us for the next Haystack in collaboration with Phytology and Company Drinks.

Friday 22nd April from 6.30pm at Phytology
Presentation and talk by designer Gaja Mežnarić Osole about her work with the Ljubljana based Re-generacija Collective and their specific interest in Japanese knotweed.

Bethnal Green Nature Reserve
Middleton Street
London E2 9RR

Meet at the campfire, with food and drinks as always.
This event will take place whatever the weather.

Saturday 23rd April from 2.00 – 4.30 pm
Japanese Knotweed Foraging Walk and Syrup Making Workshop
at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham.

Meet at Dagenham East Station (District Line) at 1.30 pm or
2pm at the Millenium Centre in Eastbrookend Country Park,
Dageham Road, RM7 0SS.

About Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed is best know in this country as an invasive plant that needs to be controlled and it is obligatory to prevent the spread, see also www.gov.uk/…/prevent-the-spread-of-harmful-invasive-and-non…

The plant is classified as non-native and due to the damage its strong and quickly growing root systems cause to the built environment – it’s considered a huge economical and ecological threat. Yet the plant is edible – tastes like rhubarb – and contains a high level of antioxidants, which make the plant valued also for it’s medicinal qualities.

Japanese knotweed is mainly introduced through construction works, when ‘infected’ soil gets imported into new developments, slowly spreading it from place to place. That is why the plant usually grows on ecologically damaged land, neglected urban areas or down the streams and rivers – in areas where the land and its soil was not treated without the necessary care.

Japanese Knotweed is best to be foraged from the beginning of April until end of May – that’s the time when the plant is still young and juicy. The shoots are great to use as as a substitute for rhubarb or asparagus, in drinks, snacks, pies ect.

About Gaja Mežnarić Osole

Gaja is a Ljubljana (Slovenia) based designer working within Re-generacija collective. Their work focuses on re-introducing urban foraging as a collective performance through spatial and social engagement. The exploration assembles a harvest gathered through picking up edible plants, walking, talking to people, interviewing and facilitating workshops, cherishing spontaneity and unexpected encounters.

Focusing on the accepted ways of confronting the problems of domination of invasive species the designers started looking for ways to present Japanese knotweed not as an economic and environmental threat, but as a new opportunity to learn from contemporary natures and initiate new synergistic partnerships. By introducing ways to use Japanese knotweed as a local source of cellulose, a tasty snack or a natural dye they started to encourage new community economies, field works and had a chance of working within a trans-disciplinary field of collaborators in a rather organic, ever-learning manner.

About Company Drinks

Company Drinks is a Barking and Dagenham based community drinks enterprise which links the history of east Londoners ‘going picking’ in Kent to the set up of a new kind of company. As part of our year-round public programme of activities we organize monthly foraging walks in local parks. The Japanese knowtweed walk on Saturday 23rd April is part of monthly foraging walk and are planning to use the crop for a new Company Drinks soda made in collaboration with Square Root.
www.c-o-m-p-a-n-y.info

For more information about the events and to get in contact please e-mail – kathrin(at)myvillages.org