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Autumn Obituary – In Loving Memory of Our Dearest Fruit Friends

It is with heavy hearts and sticky fingers that we gather here today to bid a fond farewell to some of our most cherished companions – the fruits of autumn. As the leaves change color and the air grows crisp, we must acknowledge that our fruity friends have embarked on their final journey to the compost heap in the sky.

First and foremost, we mourn the passing of Mr. Apple McJuicy, a beloved member of the orchard community. He was known for his rosy cheeks and sweet disposition, always hanging out with the coolest bunch in the tree. He leaves behind a juice legacy that will be remembered fondly in pies, cider, and childhood memories.

Next, we say goodbye to Ms. Pear Perfection, who, despite her somewhat pear-shaped figure, was the embodiment of elegance in the fruit bowl. Her undeniable charm and grace will be sorely missed at fancy dinner parties and cheese platters.

Let us not forget the wild and unpredictable cousin, Mr. Blackberry Brooks, who made it a point to keep us on our toes with his ever-changing colours and prickly nature. Although his behavior could be inconsistent, he was always the life of the autumnal fruit party.

In a shocking turn of events, the notorious daredevil, Banana Peel Johnson, met his untimely demise in the most cliché of ways – slipping on his own peel. He was known for his slippery sense of humor and was always ready for a quick laugh. We’ll remember him every time we check for hazards on the kitchen floor.

Last but not least, our grapevine informs us that the grape cluster, affectionately known as the “Grapetastic Six,” met their fate during an intense game of vine-twister. They will be forever entwined in our memories.

In conclusion, let us raise our glasses (of apple cider) to our dearly departed fruit friends. May their juicy souls find eternal delight in the great compost heap in the sky, where they can mingle with veggie friends and perhaps even spawn a bumper crop of future fruity hilarity.

Rest in peaches, dear fruits of autumn, you will be missed, and your legacy will live on in our pies and punch bowls.

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The Forager Newsletter Sept 2023

Enjoy the latest newsletter from The Forager here

What’s in the latest newsletter:

  • Reasons to enjoy picking wild Blackberries
  • Berrylicious recipes – The humble crumble and a berry smoothie
  • Truffle Season! Why do chefs love this wild treasure and an unmissable tour
  • 7 Fun Facts about Mushrooms
  • Food for thought: What I’ve been reading
  • An Obituary for Autumn Fruits

Read The Forager Newsletter for September 2023

Subscribe to all news from The Forager

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Coastal Foraging for Beginners

Grab your bucket and spade, we are ready to explore the coastlines, from cockles and mussels alive alive oh…Coastal treasures are waiting to be discovered! Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure like no other? Imagine strolling along the Atlantic coastline, discovering the freshest foods just waiting to be plucked from nature’s pantry.

Coastal foraging, the age-old practice of gathering food from the shores, is a truly captivating experience that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you yearning for more.

What makes coastal foraging so extraordinary is that the most delicious sources of vitamins and calcium are right at your toes, hiding in plain sight you might say. Oh course what you will find varies depending on where you are in the world but once you are close to the waters edge, there is usually something edible hanging about. From succulent clams to plump mussels and an assortment of seaweeds as far as the eye can see, the coastal treats are truly inspiring for any budding chefs in the world. But here’s the best part: the seafood you gather will be remarkably fresher than anything you could ever find at a mundane supermarket.

As you venture out into the sea air, you’ll soon discover that coastal foraging is not just a feast for the palate, but also a nourishing experience for your well-being. We like to think of all foraging activities as a mindful way to spend some time outdoors but embracing the sea breeze to pick some mouthwatering wild foods is extra special.

We like to dip into enchanting rock pools, walk alongside the dramatic cliffs, and search for sea buckthorn in the sand dunes, during low tide.

What wild food will you find by the coast?

Popular shellfish to forage for by the sea. The below shellfish can we found either on or beside the beach. Winkles and mussels on the rocks, Cockles and Clams in the sand.

  • Cockles – Rinse through with fresh water
  • Winkles and Periwinkles – Rinse through with fresh water
  • Mussels – Using a knife, scrape off all the barnacles, rinse twice with fresh water
  • Clams – Rinse with fresh water

FORAGING FOR SEAWEEDS

Over 700 species of seaweed can be found in Irish/UK waters. Seaweeds aka marine algae, can be a mixture of green, brown and red in color. They exist is salty, hostile spaces like the coast lines of Europe. Many will attach themselves to rocks along the shore. The most popular edible seaweeds include Laver (AKA Nori), Dulse, Sea Lettuce, Carrageen Moss, Sea Spaghetti, Sugar Kelp, BladderWrack and Pepper Dulse. Our advice is always to go foraging with elders or experts who have experience foraging for the seaweeds and shellfish available.

NOTE: Never pull all of the seaweeds off the rocks. This is similar to uprooting a whole plant. Use a sharp foraging knife or scissors to cut off small pieces, allowing the seaweed room for regrowth.

Tips for Seaweed Foraging

Choose live seaweeds and avoid decomposing seaweeds – Generally, it’s recommended to gather live seaweeds that are still attached to rocks. However, after a big storm, healthy fresh seaweeds from deeper waters may wash up, and you can use your judgment to determine their quality. Stay clear of anything that smell a funny. Decomposing seaweeds stink!

Be mindful of pollution – Consider the water quality and pollution levels in the area where you plan to forage in. Avoid picking from stagnant water, rockpools that aren’t regularly refreshed, busy harbors, fishing ports, and similar areas. Check with the Environmental Protection Agency for unbiased information on water quality.

Beware of toxic algae blooms: During summer, toxic algae blooms can occur, posing a health risk. Stay informed about any reported toxic algae blooms in the area you intend to forage. Exercise caution and avoid seaweed harvesting during such times.

Check for background radiation: While rare, it’s prudent to be aware of the possibility of background radiation in coastal areas. Stay informed about any advisories or reports regarding radiation levels. The Environmental Protection Agency can provide relevant information on this matter as well.

Be cautious of slippery rocks and tides: Seaweed foraging often involves navigating slippery rocks and dealing with unpredictable tides. Prioritize your safety by staying alert and following these precautions:

Consult tide tables before heading out to ensure you’re aware of the tide movements and timings.

If uncertain, walk between rocks rather than on top of them to minimize the risk of slipping.

Look for non-slip barnacles or other stable surfaces to support your footing.

Always sheath your knife or scissors when moving to prevent accidental injuries.

Health benefits of eating seaweeds

Seaweed offers a myriad of health benefits. Its high iodine content promotes optimal thyroid function, essential for hormone regulation. This prevents various symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid, such as fatigue, muscle weakness, and high cholesterol. Seaweed is a rich source of vitamins A and C, surpassing broccoli in calcium levels, and can be beneficial for treating osteoarthritis.

It boasts potent antioxidants that combat inflammation and help fight ailments like cancer, asthma, and obesity. Additionally, seaweed aids in regulating estrogen and estradiol levels, reducing the risk of breast cancer. With its high protein content, comparable to legumes, seaweed provides a valuable protein source. Lastly, its soluble fiber content supports healthy digestion by forming a gel in the gut, slowing down digestion, and inhibiting the absorption of sugars and cholesterol.

What do you need to bring? Equipment for coastal foraging adventures

While the allure of bare-handed foraging may seem tempting, it’s essential to prioritize sustainability and environmental preservation. Before you set off on your seaside escapade, ensure you have these vital coastal foraging tools on hand. What you need to bring will depend on the time of year you are foraging and the weather conditions. In Ireland, a light raincoat that you can fold away when the sun shines is always handy to have.

  1. A Knife – A knife that you are familiar with is indispensable when dealing with stubborn mussels and limpets clinging to rocks.
  2. Scissors – Foraging seaweed sustainably requires finesse. Instead of uprooting it by the holdfast, opt for a pair of scissors to trim no more than two-thirds of the leaves. By leaving the holdfast intact, you allow the seaweed to regrow, ensuring a bountiful harvest in the future and providing ample sustenance for marine wildlife.
  3. Spade – When hunting for hidden treasures like scallops and cockles nestled beneath sand or mudflats, a trusty spade becomes your ally. This tool allows you to dig them up with ease and precision.
  4. Rake – Unearthing succulent cockles without damaging them requires a gentler touch. A rake proves invaluable in shifting sand effortlessly, revealing these delectable morsels while preserving their delicate shells.
  5. Basket Preserving the integrity of your harvest is paramount. Stow your foraged plants in a sturdy basket to prevent crushing or squashing. The breathability of a basket also ensures optimal airflow, keeping your bounty fresh and vibrant.
  6. String Bag As you delve into the briny depths to gather crustaceans and seaweed, it’s inevitable that your catch will be wet. Utilize a handy string bag to store your treasures, allowing water to drain away while keeping your foraged delicacies secure.
  7. Dip Net Elusive shrimp and prawns often seek refuge beneath rocks and in hidden crevices. Equipped with a dip net boasting a long handle, you can navigate tight spots with ease, ensnaring a generous haul of these delectable morsels.
  8. Lobster/Crab Hook When lobsters and crabs prove elusive in their hideaways, a specialized hook with an extended handle provides a much-needed advantage. This tool allows for easier access, making the seemingly impossible within reach. You can purchase purpose-made hooks or fashion your own according to your preference.

Tips & Advice for an Unforgettable Coastal Foraging Experience

Embarking on a coastal foraging adventure requires mindful preparation and consideration for the environment. Maximize your experience with these invaluable tips and advice:

  • Prioritize Safety: Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, keeping an eye on tides and potential hazards. Be cautious when navigating slippery rocks or venturing into unknown areas.
  • Sustainable Practices: Only gather what you need and avoid overharvesting to maintain the delicate balance of coastal ecosystems. Respect local regulations and guidelines to ensure the longevity of these precious resources.
  • Species Identification: Familiarize yourself with local flora and fauna to distinguish between edible treasures and protected species. Consult reputable sources or local experts for accurate identification.
  • Leave No Trace: As an eco-conscious forager, ensure you leave the coastal environment as pristine as you found it. Dispose of any waste responsibly and refrain from disturbing habitats or damaging delicate marine ecosystems.
  • Learn from Experts: Consider joining guided foraging tours or workshops led by experienced foragers. Their knowledge and expertise can enhance your understanding of coastal ecosystems and enrich your foraging endeavors.
  • Seasonal Awareness: Different seasons yield varied foraging opportunities. Research and understand the seasonal availability of different species in your chosen coastal region to optimize your harvest.
  • Respect Wildlife: Remember that coastal areas are home to a diverse range
When should you go coastal foraging?

For coastal foraging my foraging friends who are much more experienced than me always advise only picking shellfish from May to October but the seasons are changing with some different weather patterns.

The Forager Newsletter: Cleaning with Cleavers, Wild Dip Recipe, Suggested readings and more

Hello Fellow Foragers & Nature Lovers,

Just a short recap on what’s included in the latest newsletter from THE FORAGER:

5 Ways to use Cleavers – Nature’s natural cleanser is everywhere at the moment. Be sure to get your hands on some.

We re-watched Paul Stamets Ted Talk. He is such a legend. Check it out!

How blockchain can be used to fund a greener future – I am always writing but this article was published on an Asian publication called e27.

I also added a short poem to help us stay mindful and celebration the abundance of nature.

Catch up on THE FORAGER NEWSLETTER HERE

What are your summer plans? Be sure to share all of your foraging adventures with us. I am busy planning my foraging outings for June and writing May’s newsletter.

Happy May!

The Forager Journal – A Newsletter for Wild Food & Nature Lovers

Hello Fellow Foragers,

It is good to finally be back after a long and winding hiatus since the pandemic hit us pretty hard here in Ireland. For me, it immediately put all of my foraging and tour plans on hold. After quitting my full-time job to spend years building up experiences of foraging with friends and pouring my heart into the idea, I was more than a little down in the dumps when covid struck.

After wallowing in self pity I picked myself up from the floor but the connection I had with my foraging world collapsing and COVID restrictions really made me question things so I quickly grabbed the comfort of my pen and began writing. I am pleased to say that I kelp my love for experimenting with wild foods and I am delighted to be starting this journey today to offer insights, tips and tricks from all of my foraging adventures.  

I am so excited to be sending my first newsletter to a wild and waiting community that are eager to learn more about the wonderful world of wild foods, edible plants, mushrooms and natures delicious bounty. Those who know me or have been out on the trails with me know that I am an advocate for seasonal eating and want to promote patience when it comes to what we find on our supermarket shelves.

We live in a world that is now spoiled for choice but this choice has a grave cost on the environment and people working with the foods we love to find on our supermarket shelves. This weekly newsletter is designed to give you a taste for the foraging lifestyle, provide some recipe inspiration and share stories from our adventures along the way. Thank you for being here and supporting my love for foraging, food and outdoor living. 

Someday soon we will meet again and forage through the woods with our shared love for the nature as the only comfort blanket and our knowledge that hard time are like clouds, they pass by with time. 

If you like some of my updates I would love your support so that I can continue my foraging and writing adventures!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE FORAGER JOURNAL TODAY

https://loversofthewild.substack.com/subscribe
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Enjoying the fruits of our Labor: The Case for establishing a pick your own culture in Europe

Back in 2013 I packed a suitcase and headed for British Columbia, not knowing how much the culture of outdoor living would have a longer-term impact on my consideration for the natural world. This organic affiliation with outdoor spaces was both inspiring and thought-provoking.

Why were the people of Canada so in tune with outdoor recreation? The climate certainly had an impact as the summer months allowed for the production of fruit varieties that would be the envy of many countries. Another factor was the close connection between the public and the farms/orchard operators. 

Fast forward 10 years to 2023 and two failed start-ups to cater to those who wanted to connect with nature and food and here I am rambling about the same passion for picking fruit, wild foods and connecting with nature.

Last year I wrote an article about the issues facing our future food supplies if producers continue to ignore the trends pointing towards a green-focused economy. This article discussed the fragmented approach to food production and distribution, identifying key areas of improvement and future ways that we could consider using technology to enhance transparency within our manufacturing processes. 

What are pick-your-own farms?

Pick-your-own farms, also known as “U-pick” or “PYO” farms, are farms where visitors can go to pick their own produce, such as fruits, vegetables, or berries, directly from the fields. These farms provide an opportunity for people to experience agriculture and learn about where their food comes from. They also offer the freshest, local ingredients and an alternative to supermarket chains that often bring in produce shipped from around the world.

Many pick-your-own farms have different types of products available at different times of the year. Additionally, many farms offer extra activities, such as wine tasting, pumpkin picking, jam making, petting zoos and family days out.

Why should we cultivate a pick-your-own culture in  Europe?

Pick-your-own farms typically operate seasonally, which is another reason to love them. What happened to wait until it was berry season to pick berries, holding out for Autumn to get the best chanterelles or making apple tart in September when the kids go back to school? The food we eat is undoubtedly connected with our family traditions and identity. Increased demand for a year-round supply of all foods from everywhere threatens the very enjoyment of eating, tasting, and valuing the foods we grow up alongside.

There are many positive reasons to foster a love for picking locally grown food. From building a sustainable future to supporting local businesses to eating the freshest ingredients, the list is endless. Being closer to nature is now even prescribed by doctors in South Korea, the US and Finland with 5 hours as the minimum time per month recommended by some doctors in Finland. However, the common benefit for all who engage in pick-your-own activities is the sense of community.

By establishing pick-your-own farms and encouraging pick-your-own activities, a way of life develops within a community. Not only are traditional foods of a region preserved, but the outdoor lifestyle is also preserved and that feeling of attachment to a place or region is more firmly rooted as many people increasingly spend time attached to new ways of interacting and new virtual work patterns.  A sense of community is what binds the notion of identity together.

The act of picking fruit at the weekends becomes a ritual, firmly engrained in community life. 

Grow Local, Pick Local

If you already have the GIY ‘Grow it Yourself’ bug then pick-your-own farms that offer the chance to immerse yourself in the land will be right up your street.

Locally sourced food is the freshest kind you will find. Just consider the long distances traveled by food that reaches our supermarket shelves. Better tracking of our food supply chains will help us to understand the impact the origin of food has on our natural environments.

Another reason to canvas for a pick-your-own culture is to support local farmers and food lovers. By purchasing local food you are feeding the local economy ad helping to build a sustainable future for smaller farmers.

A major reason why I chose to write about local food, foraging and fixing our supply chains is to research the impact our food consumption is having on the environments where this food is sourced. Picking local and increasing our understanding of local food availability can help to reduce our carbon footprint and prevent unnecessary long-distance transportation of food.

Where to find pick-your-own farms

Pick-your-own farms are not very established in Europe. However, there is a growing interest in the development of rural tourism and green initiatives that encourage a newfound appreciation for locally grown produce. This list is not exhaustive but it does include a few key places that have established pick-your-own activities.

A list of u-pick farms in Europe

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The Forager: A Collection of abstract Wild Food NFTs

Wild, locally grown food is there to be discovered and cherished by everyone. Foraging brings us all a little closer to the natural world around us. A sustainable future may be more tangible than we currently imagine it to be. 

For me this NFT collection is about bringing the old me into the new me, bridging the worlds that I love: technology and nature, to raise awareness of the abundance of wild foods patiently waiting to be discovered. From the woodlands to the sea, we gather, we chatter, we roam. I have used AI to design wonderous art from a series of high definition photographs taken whilst foraging. Most of the photographs

I currently write about the world of Web3 and how blockchain technology is going to change the future. One of the ways that I hope to see this happen is by offering more traceability of our food systems. It is easy to see that our relationship with food is broken but we have the power to fix it and we only need to start investigating to find the answers.

VIEW THE FORAGER NFTS HERE

Orchards Near Me began as a passion project in Canada after a weekend fruit picking in the Okanagan. Rambling from orchard to vineyard and back to the campsite I was completely inspired by the real connection with the land. When I returned to Ireland I vowed to keep that connection with the outdoors alive. On a cycling trip in the Tuscan mountains near San Miniato I discovered Massimo and his truffle hunting dogs. This is where I first learned about the Italian truffle hunters and their love affair with the seasons best produce. The beauty of the truffle foragers is that they don’t manipulate the production as we find with mass producing farms across the world. They are patient, familiar with the time the earth needs to restore before offering up its most treasured truffle bounty.

Again, inspired by the In Ireland, I started a small tour company to bring people on wild food adventures. It didn’t pay the bills but was by far the most gratifying way to spend a morning with new friends. We would walk unbeaten trails learning about the wild foods around us, sipping homemade huckleberry tea and eating fresh raspberry jam. When the pandemic hit, the foraging tours were cancelled and the world seemed bleak but I knew that the fire had been lit in my mind and now that I was aware there was no way of going back. A lifelong quest to fix the food system must be madness but education in tangible, writing is achievable and so here I am. 

Foraging for wild food teaches patience, durability, awareness, pleasure and connectedness. It gives gifts of various edible plant species throughout the year but a forager must be kind to mother nature to receive the precious gifts on offer. 

Foraging for wild foods isn’t simply a past time, it is a way of life, a way of connecting with the natural world as it intended us too, a way of appreciating the abundance of nature and the constant replenishment of the forests with each new season. 

My absolute favourite times are the beginning of Springtime when you walk through dense oak forests only to be greeted by the pungent small of wild garlic and then stumble upon a carpet of the deepest green, delicious leaves covering the forest floor around you or another favourite is looking up on a wonderous trail through a mixed wood forest in late summer only to find green walnuts. Pickled green walnuts are something of a delicacy and should be treasured by all foodie lovers.  

This collection of NFTs is a representation of some of my favourite wild foods, including: Sweet Chestnuts, Blackberries, Pineapple weed, Green Walnuts, Spruce Tips, Gorse, Sea Radis, Seabeat, Orach, Turkey Tail Mushroom, Winter Chanterelles, Jelly Ear Mushroom, Penny Buns, Rosehips, Birch Nuts, Amanita, Dandelions, Thistles, Wild garlic and many other wild herbs straight from the parks, forests and coasts of Ireland. 

WHERE: ARTMINE STUDIO

Plant of the month: Red Clover aka Trifolium Pratense

Trifolium pratense

Best time to Discover May – September
Colour Purple, Red
Habitat Grasslands and roadsides
Where Throughout Europe

These furry topped plants are a member of the legume family. Often used in herbal medicine and found in many health shops these days, the wonderful Red Clover is abundant throughout Ireland and the UK.

They contain isoflavones, a type of polyphenol and associated with a number of health benefits, including increased antioxidants and maintaining blood vessel health.

USES

In the olden days red clover has been used to treat asthma, coughs and cancer.

Today, Clover tea and small amounts of it in dishes is said to help with high cholesterol, indigestion and menopause symptoms.

Red clover is a friend of their environment, they fix nitrogen into the soil which is absorbed by other plants. “

“The use of forage legumes such as white clover, red clover and lucerne as well as grain legumes such as field beans and peas can significantly reduce the need for the application of inorganic nitrogen fertiliser” (farmingforabetterclimate.org)

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Assisted Colonisation for endangered species paired with Education about Invasive Species

As part of our foraging we study how beneficial native species are to the environments around them but what about invasive species and plants that are not considered native but do provide much needed nutrition to our diets? Rewilding the spaces around us and leaving local plants to thrive are two effective ways to combat ecological damage that has been ongoing. The negative impact that climate change is having on biodiversity around the world is now being felt by too many plant species.

Endangered plant species are often thought to have no value to humans and this is where attitudes can be turned around. More and more we are finding usefulness in the wild herbs, plants and fungi that pop up each year. If preserving whole eco-systems is now a trend then it must take the lesser known, lesser used plants into account. This endangered plants may not be for human consumption but they form a critical component of our life on earth.

Evidently, climate change is changing natural environments so much that it is no longer sustainable for some species to survive in their natural habitats or locations of preference. So the question is how do we relocate plants and animals to safe, unnatural locations without interrupting the flow of nature and native species?

A very interesting paper from Yale begins to ask these questions and discuss the idea of assisted colonisation for insects, plants and animals that are currently endangered due to climate change and environmental factors outside of their control.

35,000 threatened species out of 134,425 assessed. Out of these 6,811 species are considered to be critically endangered by the International Union for Conversation of Nature. This is due to a wide range of factors including loss of habitat, disease, pollution, exploited natural resources, hunting and invasive species exploiting areas. It is not a new idea to take one species and move it to a safer place. This has been happening for thousands of years. Humans and plants migrate together and form communities that go on to make up our ecosystems. Conservations have and are arguing about forced or assisting colonisation of plants into new places. However, there may not be enough time for long winded debates. The act of preserving this critically endangered plant species becomes about building an ecosystem fit to host multiple foreign species, alongside native plants, without interrupting the entire pattern of biodiversity in a region.

I write about assisted colonisation here and today because I think it will be crucial to our foraging tours of the future and mass appeal of education around the benefits that plant species (not just the grapes from the vineyard) bring to a community. It is hard to imagine life without wine Cork or the fun of escaping the Venus Fly Trap and the soothing calm that the agave plant offers when we see it. 

Whatever projects we start or policies we make we better get on top of it fast as every day counts when it comes to protecting the landscapes around us. Are you interested in learning more about these endangered plant species? We will bring you to some of the places around Europe that enjoy the fruits and natural wild plants of their communities.

Wild Recipe: Elderflower and Lime Granita

It’s June and the smell of Elderflowers is in the air. Summertime is the perfect time to celebrate flowers and the elderflower is simply delicious in almost any wild cocktail or drink so give it a try.

Elderflower & Lime Granita Recipe

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

Pour the sugar into a pot of cold water, bring it to the boil, stirring slowly as you let the sugar dissolve.

Leave the mixture to cool. Time to add the elderflower cordial, gin and lime juice.

Stir well and freeze for an hour.

After an hour, remove from the freezer and use a rolling pin to break up the ice into pieces, return to the freezer for 2 hours.

Remove from the freezer, add to tumblers and grate the lime zest over it.

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