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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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6 Wild Teas to Forage all Year

There is always time for tea in our house. In fact, in Ireland it is said that one person can have up to 8 cups of tea a day. Tea has to be the ultimate comfort drink.

Red Clover Tea

Red clover is one of the most popular wild teas and luckily for us the plant is available for most of the year. The soft spiky purple headed flowers are hard to miss if you find yourself in any wild fielded area. This wild gem is used for lots of traditonal medicines. It is often used to treat respiratory issues and skin conditions. Next time you are out for a walk keep an eye out for some clovers. To prepare your red clover tea dry out the flower heads in a warm dry area (a windowsill will work), add three teaspoons of dried flowers to a cup of boiling water, let steep for 10 minutes and enjoy.

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Pine Needle Tea

The smell of pine is so enticing it is a wonder why this isn’t the most popular tea of all. Don’t be put off by the prickly pine needles, this tea is rich is Vitamin C and will give your immune system a welcome boost. There are many different species of Pine so be sure to do your research before picking. Spruce Pine is our favourite to use in teas. Be careful to watch out for Yew species as these are toxic. To prepare your tea simply boil a pot of water, add two handfuls of pine needles and drain. It smells like Christmas and you can have it all year round.

Nettle Tea

It is now common knowledge that nettles are a super food. The plant often disgarded and feared for its sting is one of the most valued plants by foragers. Nettles can help with urinary conditions, arthristis and blood sugar management. Always wear thick gloves when picking nettles. Add a spoon of honey and a slice of lemon for a little kick to one of the most popular wild teas.

Chamomile Tea

Also known as the natural calmer, wild chamomile is the ultimate cup of relaxation. The flowers contain the flavour. They look similar to daisies but are much bigger and usually bloom in the summer months. You will find them alongside karst coastal landscapes. Dry out the flower heads and add them to a cup of boiling water for a cup of calm at the weekend. Pregnant women should avoid this herb. This flower also works well with any salad dishes.

Raspberry Leaf Tea

This tea tastes most closely to our common tea leaves found in the supermarkets. However, as with all plants, raspberry leaves contain anti-oxidents and the leaves are packed with nutriants. When you boil it and remove the leaves it looks like your average cup of black tea. It contains a property called fragarine that helps to tone and tighten the pelvic area. Hence why many women use it around their menstual cycle.

Bull Thistle Tea

These plants have to be one of the hardest to forage. These prickly forest friends are easily identifiable with their spear heads and purple flowers. The best tea comes from cooking the roots. Always wear gloves when handling thistles.

We have created a downloadable wild teas poster for all of the wild tea fans out there.

Enjoy sipping your very own foraged teas this year.

Happy Foraging!

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Have a wild Come Dine With Me Night

Check out our new Foragers Menu and Recipe eBook. You can download the full eBook and Menu here. Cooking with friends and for friends is the perfect way to spend a weekend. While we are all asked to stay closer to home and only connect with a few close family members or friends we need to become creative and use our time together wisely.

As the weather starts to become warmer we can consider foraging and outdoor dining. With each season there is something unique to find and add to your favourite dishes. For now, you can try our newly designed Foragers Feast Menu and eRecipe collection.

What you need to host a dinner party for friends

  • Decide on a theme for your Come Dine With Me evening. We always go for something wild or nature related as it goes with some of our favourite ingredients. Italian night is also very popular and there are plenty of foraged foods that can be used as pizza toppings.
  • Ask your friends for their dietary requirements (you don’t want to serve nuts in every dish when there is a guest with an allergy)
    Prepare the dessert well in advance.
  • Read the recipes in full and decide where to find all of the ingredients (If foraging you will want to check the local park, forest or seaside).
  • Send the menu to your guests via email or phone. You can download the Foragers Feast menu here.
  • Make some homemade dips in advance.
  • The less you are cooking for, the more complicated the dishes can be but if you are hosting for 6 persons or more factor in the time it takes and stick to nice and easy if possible.
  • Make a spotify playlist to go with your dinner theme as have a background music. Atmosphere is everything when it comes to hosting dinner parties.
  • Don’t forget to join in the fun. You don’t want to spend all of your time in the kitchen.
  • Get help when you are serving up the food.
  • Remember to always offer the leftovers to guests.

We hope that our Foragers Feast Menu and recipes inspire your next wild Come Dine With Me and we look forward to hearing all about the results.

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Nature Inspired Wall Art

Check out our latest nature inspired wall art that is available to download, print and use as a reference for your next adventure outdoors.

We have designed a number of unique posters that will inspire you to learn about the great outdoors. If you are trying to jazz up your home office or give a gift to a nature loving friend, these prints are designed from the heart. At Orchards Near Me we are a big fan of lifelong learning and what better way to keep learning than hanging some wildlife identification posters on your wall at home.

Edible Weeds Print

A black and white poster dedicated to some of our favourite edible weeds. The next time you are out in the garden be sure to keep an eye out for these amazing species. Better yet, hang this poster in your shed as a reminder of the beauty that weeds can bring.

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Edible Flowers Poster

Did you know that some of the most plentiful wild flowers are also edible? Use this poster as a guide when you are picking your next flowers to use in dishes at home.

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Irish Trees Poster

Download this custom designed Native Irish trees poster with their Irish translations.

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Edible Seaweeds Poster

Algae is strange and wonderful. Enjoy learning about the most common edible seaweeds.

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We have put the utmost care and attention to detail when designing our illustrated series of wall art. Enjoy them however you choose and please share with friends.

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The Benefits of U-Pick Farms and Why they are Part of our Future?

As keen foragers we are always looking for new ways to learn from the natural world around us. U-pick farms and open orchards are the ideal way to get hands on with the landscape and learn about some fruit growing techniques. U Pick farms offer the surrounding community the chance to get to know their farmers. With a U-pick farm you can get up close and personal with the local produce, the production process and the scale of the operations for various types of fruits and vegetables.

When I was in Canada it amazed me how close the local people were to the orchards around them. It was a joy to simply head out to a local orchard at the weekend and pick away until you had enough fruit to fill you for a month. The idea of the U-pick farm is simple, you go to the farm of your choice nearby your location and pay for whatever you pick on the day. Instead of stealing the apples from an orchard, you are invited onto the grounds to choose your very own produce.

Benefits of U-Pick Farms for Orchard Owners

  1. Build brand awareness
  2. Develop Community Relationships
  3. Show off and sell fresh fruit
  4. Demonstrate the Value of Produce
  5. Make the most of harvest season

When I first returned to Ireland I approached some fruit farmers about the U Pick idea and although interested they dismissed it as their current production process was working and they were worried that people would steal the fruit as they picked. I suppose scale is important here and if you are counting every last piece of fruit to achieve your revenue at the end of the year then you wouldn’t be open to anyone taking a bite out of your tree.

However, we should be open to discussing this trend and orchards across Europe have already embraced this model as a way to interact with their customers and build their brand reputation. I have already mentioned some of the benefits of U-Pick farms but here is a solid list of reasons why U-pick farms are a part of our future and why going to a U-pick farm can be a fun activity for all of the family.

Reasons to Visit a U-Pick Farm with Family and Friends

  1. Support local business
  2. Learn about Local Produce
  3. Make New Friends
  4. Enjoy Fresh Fruit
  5. Discover the Joy of Picking
  6. Get back to Nature

Studies have now proved that spending time in natural environments gives us a positive boost in energy and allows us space to gather our thoughts.

LIST OF U-PICK FARMS IN EUROPE

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Foraged Vitamin C Oat Balls

This super simple recipe is becoming a staple in the kitchen for the Autumn months. Learn how to pack a healthy dose of fresh Vitamin C into your breakfast balls with these tasty foraged Vitamin C packed Oat Balls aka Rosehip balls.

Just before we head into winter the rosehips are ripe for picking from the thorn filled bushes. There has to be some natural force behind this as our bodies are craving some Vitamins to sustain us for the long winter nights. We have come up with the most delicious way to use up your unused hips at this time of the year. Here is our delicious Oat ball recipe, made with freshly foraged and dried rosehips.

Ingredients

  • Oats (3 cups)
  • Brown Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Honey (5 Tablespoons)
  • Condensed Milk (1/4 can)
  • Dried and Fresh Rosehips (2 handfuls)
  • Blackberries (1 handful)
  • Grated Apples x 2
  • Dark Chocolate (1 Bar – 200g)
  • Sea Salt (1 Tablespoon)

How to make Vitamin C Oat Ballsrosehip-oat-balls-vitamin-c

Step 1. Head out on a local foraging adventure to pick some fresh rosehips or buy dried rosehips from us if you don’t have time.

Step 2. Gather the other ingredients of oats, sugar, honey and condensed milk and gently combine them. Stir in a handful of raisins and two handfuls of loosely chopped dried rosehips. Now add two grated apples and a handful of blackberries.

Step 3. Roll this mixture into small balls and leave in a heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

Step 4. While your oat balls are in the oven heat some dark chocolate over a hot pan. Add a tablespoon of sea salt.

Step 5. Take your balls from the oven and coat them in the chocolate, leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Voila, you have your very own foraged Vitamin C oat balls. It is easy to play with this recipe, adding different seasonal products at different times of the year. We will give some Spring Oat balls a go in a couple of months.

 

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Nature Healing Menu

Taking time out for you is one of the most rewarding things that you can do is today’s busy world. At Orchards Near Me we like to bask in the power of nature healing and all of the ways that the natural world can help us to be more mindful each day. Those of you who engage in meditation will know that is has the ability to transform our connection with the space and people around us.

Combine the art of meditation with nature and you have a winning strategy for overcoming obstacles, staying positive and connecting your self with the wider world. Download or use this nature healing menu as a guide to help you develop your appreciation for the power of nature and establish a greater connection with the outdoors.

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Wild Recipe: Caramelised Wild Onion and Nettle Dip

Are you hosting a dinner party or brunch anytime soon? Maybe you are looking to make something a little different for your Friday night treat? Our Caramelised wild onion and nettle dip is the perfect addition to any cheese board or platter of chips for any occassion. It is super simple, delicious and packed full of nutrients.

Ingredientscaramelised-wild-onion-and-nettle-dip-orchards-near-me

  • Wild Onion grass
  • 1 handful of dried nettles
  • Sour Cream
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

How to Make your Wild nettle Dip

  1. Put a knob of butter in the pan and heat it on a low heat
  2. Slice the onion finely and add it to the pan
  3. Add your sugar next and leave to fry gently
  4. Combine your chopped up dried nettles and onion grass
  5. Add these to the pan and stir
  6. Remove from the heat, place in a bowl and stir in your sour cream
  7. Add some chopped parsley and a teaspoon of worchestshire sauce

Serve this up with some homemade crackers (try our curly dock crackers here) and cheese.

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What’s in Season: Foraging in Summertime

This is the time of the year when all of the fruits come to life. Foraging in Summertime is always a worthwhile adventure. From coastal trails to edible flower to long stemmed plants that have fully grown, there are endless wild treats to learn about during the summer months.  In addition to being a ripe time for picking it is also a beautiful way to experience the outdoors and get a welcome boost in Vitamin C.

We head to our local forest tracks, travel to our nearby beaches and climb the mountains of Europe to find the best wild produce, experiment with summer herbs and enjoy the mindful activity of foraging with friends. Take our your foraging basket and guide, you are ready to pineapple-weed-coastal-foraging-in-summertimediscover what’s in season and use some wild edibles in your summer dishes.

EDIBLE FLOWERS

  • Mallow
  • Meadowsweet
  • Yarrow
  • Carendula
  • Borage Flowers
  • Dandelion
  • Fireweed

BERRIES

Bilberries

Also known as the wild blueberry, the bilberry has a long history of use in Ireland. In the middle ages they were also used as a dye. They are a protection plant that contain vitamin C and reduce inflammation.

Wild Strawberries

Sweet wild strawberries can be found in the Northern hemisphere along the trails in the summertime. They are much smaller than your average supermarket strawberries and used to make tasty desserts like jam, scones and short bread.

Elderberries

You will find these dark purple berries heavy on the elder trees from August to October. The berries and flowers are packed with anti-oxidants. In April you can make traditional elderflower cordial from the cream soaked flowers and in September you can stock up on elderflower jam.

WILD GREENS

Mullein

Mullein is easy to recognise, the bright yellow flower blooms in the summer months. Use the flower in tea or oil to help fight infections. The leaves are believed to help the respiratory system and asthma sufferers.

Nettles

Often considered one of natures superfoods, stinging nettles are the perfect addition to summer smoothies. Foraging for this green leaf starts in March and you can collect it throughout the summer months. Note: Be sure to wear gloves.

Paintain

With a long history of medicinal use, this weed is often underestimated. Used to treat kidney infections, liver problems and jaundice. You can treat it like you use spinach in recipes. Once you become familiar with this rounded leaf you will start to see if everywhere; parks, forest trails, woodlands and mountainous areas.

Wood Sorrel

Want to add a splash of sour to your summer salads, Wood Sorrel is available year round and you will find carpets of this delicious green in your nearby woodland.green-walnuts-summer-foraging

MUSHROOMS

Chanterelles

The golden queen of the forest, Chanterelles will start popping out to say hello as early as July. These sweet mushrooms are the perfect addition to pasta dishes and very popular with 5 star chefs around the world. If you find some chanterelle treasure don’t ruin the taste by washing them too hard. For a simple side dish, gently fry with butter, garlic and pepper. You can’t miss the wavy look of these mushrooms however there are some lookalikes out there so be careful and always forage with a guide.

Chicken of the Woods

Bright yellow or burnt orange and jutting out from the trunk of a tree, it is hard to miss this variety of wild mushroom. Known as Chicken of the Woods because it has a similar texture to pulled chicken when you pull it apart. Mostly found on dead or dying hardwood trees.

Ceps

Ceps aka Porcini mushrooms are some of the most prized wild mushrooms you can find in the late summer months. They are delicious but not as readily available or as easily spotted as other varieties. Commonly found underneath oak and beech trees, these shrooms are the perfect addition to any of your favourite Italian dishes.

NUTS

Green Walnuts

This is an early summer treat that not many people take advantage of. Pickled walnuts are one of our favourite side dishes in summertime.

Join one of our next foraging tours or find out more about foraging in summertime with our free foraging guide.

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