foraging

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The Forager Newsletter Feb 2024 – Springtime Foraging Adventures

Hello Fellow Foragers! We have got you covered for a couple of fun foraging adventures in Springtime.

Let Winter be the time for research, planning, and discussing new beginnings. Spring is the starting point, the time when everything is at your fingertips and the world is waiting to inject energy. I hear you now “come on and just get on with the program”.

So, what can you expect to find inside this months issue of “The Forager” for February? Let’s take a peek!

Foraging in Springtime:
Get ready to embark on an exciting journey through lush forests and meadows as we explore the bounty of nature awakening from its winter slumber. From delicate wildflowers to hearty greens, discover the treasures waiting to be harvested in the great outdoors.

A Wild Cleanse with Sticky Willies (Got to be the best title ever):
Join us as we delve into the world of Sticky Willies and learn how these underrated wild plants can be transformed into a cleansing tonic to kickstart your spring detox. Get ready to feel revitalized and refreshed from the inside out!

Wild Green Walnut Nocino:
Indulge your senses with our irresistible recipe for Wild Green Walnut Nocino, a traditional Italian liqueur infused with the essence of early-harvested walnuts. Sip, savor, and celebrate the flavors of spring with this delicious homemade treat.

Wild Onion Focaccia Recipe:
Elevate your baking game with our mouthwatering recipe for Wild Onion Focaccia, featuring foraged wild onions for a flavorful twist on this classic Italian bread. Impress your friends and family with your culinary prowess!

Food for thought:
Curious about the latest trends in foraging or looking for recommendations on books and podcasts to expand your knowledge? Dive into our “Food for Thought” section, where we share insights on what we’ve been reading and listening to in the world of foraging and beyond.

Subscribe to “The Forager” today and join us on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of springtime foraging. Let’s embrace the season of renewal and rediscover the joy of connecting with nature one wild treasure at a time!

Happy foraging!

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Wild Garlic Salt: The Benefits of Wild Garlic and a Flavorful Recipe


In the world of foraged delicacies, wild garlic stands out as a verdant gem with a rich history. Also known as ramps, ramsons, or Allium ursinum, this vibrant green herb not only adds a burst of flavor to your dishes but also brings a host of nutritional advantages. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of wild garlic and provide you with a simple yet tantalizing recipe for wild garlic salt.

Benefits of Wild Garlic:

  • Rich in Nutrients: Wild garlic is a nutritional powerhouse, containing vitamins A and C, along with essential minerals like iron and manganese. These nutrients contribute to overall health and well-being.
  • Immune Boost: The high levels of allicin, the same compound found in garlic, give wild garlic its immune-boosting properties. Regular consumption may help fend off common illnesses and support a robust immune system.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Wild garlic has been linked to cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels. Its allicin content plays a role in promoting heart health.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The anti-inflammatory properties of wild garlic make it a valuable addition to your diet, potentially assisting in managing inflammation-related conditions.
  • Rich in Antioxidants: Antioxidants in wild garlic help combat oxidative stress in the body, contributing to cellular health and potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Recipe: Wild Garlic Salt

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wild garlic leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt


Instructions:

Harvesting Wild Garlic:

Ensure you are harvesting wild garlic from a clean, pesticide-free environment.
Carefully pluck the leaves, leaving the bulbs and roots intact for sustainable foraging.
Cleaning and Drying:

Wash the wild garlic leaves thoroughly under cold water.
Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
Blending:

In a food processor, combine the wild garlic leaves and coarse sea salt.
Pulse the mixture until the wild garlic is finely chopped, and the salt has absorbed the vibrant green color.
Drying the Wild Garlic Salt:

Spread the wild garlic salt evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Allow it to air-dry for 1-2 days or until the moisture has evaporated.
Storing:

Transfer the dried wild garlic salt to an airtight container.
Store in a cool, dark place to maintain its freshness and potency.
Usage Tip: Sprinkle this aromatic wild garlic salt on roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or even use it as a finishing touch for salads and soups. The distinct flavor of wild garlic will elevate your dishes to new heights.

See more recipes here

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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.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE LATEST FORAGER NEWSLETTER TODAY

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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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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

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What foods can be Foraged in Springtime?

Discover the natural Spring flavours from the forests and coasts. Foraging in Springtime is a great way to get to know the plants around you. Whether you want to broaden your palette or simply get a taste of the woods, foraging is a great way to get a taste of the outdoors. Dandelions, Wild Garlic, Sea beet and Chickweed are just a few of the many tasty plants that you will find in grassy patches during the months of Spring.

Lets get to know where to find, how to pick and how to prepare a few of our favourite edible plants at this time of the year.

Sea Beet

This wild green edible plant is easy to find by the coast. Boil it or steam it to get the best flavour. It is known as the cousin of spinach and packed full of nutrients. Look out for glossy, bright green leaves on your next coastal walk.

Cow Parsley

Look out for fern like leaves when foraging for cow parsley. This plant grows tall just before the summer months. It likes the shade and grassy areas. You will find umbrella like bunches of tiny white flowers on the tip. Dont pick cow parsley if you can’t identify it as it is often mistaken for more poisonous plants such as hemlock.

Wild Garlic

Also known as ramsons, you might smell this plant before you see it if you are wandering in the woods in springtime. In May it is very easy to identify with it;s pointy small white petaled flowers. Common uses for wild garlic include making homemade wild garlic pesto, chopping it into salads and adding it to soups to give an extra punch of flavour.

Elderflower

If you live near any organic fruit store or hipster cafe you may have stumbled upon Elderflower cordial or better yet Elderflower champagne. This fragrant plant comes bursting to life at Springtime. Usually found in hedgegrows, on the banks of rivers and in wild wooded areas, it is easy to identify. All you need to make homemade elderflower cordial is a little bit of patience as it takes time for the mixture to set. Find our tried and tested recipe here.

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Dandelions

The health benefits of dandelions are now widely recognised. Containing plenty of antioxidants and vitamins this may be the most undervalued commonly found plant. This humble yellow flowers are often a source of pain for gardeners who like to keep their gardens clear of wild weeds. However dandelions are rich in pollen and nectar that feed the bees so try to hold off on mowing your lawn the second that spring arrives. To get your weekly does of dandelion, use it is a hot pot of tea or add the petals to your salads.

Nettles

Often feared for their stinging abilities, nettles are full of nutrition when picked at the right time of year. Most parks and wooded areas will have patches of nettles hanging around together in large crowds. They are rich in Vitamins C and K and contain more iron than spinach. Try this heart warming nettle soup recipe to get acquainted with this edible plant.

Linden Leaves

These nutrient packed leaves come from Linden trees. It has massive heart-shaped leaves with fragrant flowers that can be eaten fresh or dropped into any wild tea recipe. They are said to have relaxing properties like chamomile. Young Linden Leaves are a sweet addition to salads in spring and summertime.

If you have any plants to tell us about we would love to hear from fellow fruit and foraging enthusiasts.

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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