foraging

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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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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.

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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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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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Wild Food Recipe: Chocolate Orange Curly Dock Brownies

Are brownies one of the most popular treats today? I will admit that I am not much of a baker. Cooking is my calling and I love to work with food but I find the strict nature of baking, where you have to measure every ingredient carefully, too restricting. So when it comes to baking recipes I need easy to make ideas that will allow that extra room for flexibility if I decide to put in an extra spoonful of chocolate. These wild curly dock brownies turned out to be super simple and super tasty. chocolate-orange-brownie-recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ground curly dock seeds
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 200g of Dark chocolate

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 Cup of icing sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Orange zest sliced thinly

How to Make Your Brownies

Preheat oven for 20 minutes.chocolate-orange-buttercream-topping

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or tinfoil. Beat the sugar and butter together until it is light and fluffy, add the eggs and mix. Leave to the side while you prepare the dry ingredients. Melt 1/2 the chocolate over a hot pan and leave it cool down. Fold into the wet mix.

Sift the dock seed, flour, baking powder and cocoa power together.

Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Spread mix in lined baking tray.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until centre comes out clean with a knife.

Add wild berries and icing sugar to decorate.

Voila! Now you are ready to treat your friends to some wild curly dock brownies. Learn more about Foraging for Curly Dock seeds here.

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