nature

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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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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. Showcase your best, local produce
  2. Build brand awareness
  3. Develop Community Relationships
  4. Show off and sell fresh fruit
  5. Demonstrate the Value of Produce
  6. 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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Can Nature Therapy Help Us to Live Mindfully?

Can nature therapy help us to live mindfully? If we are seeking to live In times of uncertainty we tend to float towards the familiar; the morning routine that helps us to start the day, the habits that keep us grounded, the meals that provide comfort and the people that love us unconditionally. However, we also crave the excitement and adreneline of the new. Adventure is now firmly embedded as a popular form of holiday to be taken each year.

This familiarity and newness that nature brings with every season is one reason why nature is so important in our everyday lives.

What is Nature therapy?

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Nature therapy, sometimes referred to as eco-therapy, describes a broad group of techniques or treatments with the intention of improving an individual’s mental or physical health, specifically with an individual’s presence within nature or outdoor surroundings (Source: Wikipedia)

Nature therapy is anyway in which our senses are connected to the natural world around us. It often involves some kind of outdoor activity and enables us to live mindfully, in the moment, turning off our busy minds.

Keats celebrated nature and all of the elements within his natural surroundings. As a romantic poet he basked in the natural environment, admiring its ability to heal us.

“O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, —
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,forest-bathing-nature-therapyIts flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell” John Keats

How to Live Mindfully with Nature

There are many ways that we can choose to live mindfully with nature. From guided walks to gardening, nature related activities help us to disconnect and eliminate distractions.

  • When you go out for your next walk in the wild practice the art of observation. Look up at the trees, admire the flowers, search for the cracks in nature and allow your sense of sight to explore all of the elements around you. The simple activity can help you towards mindful living.
  • Enjoy discovering wild food with the art of Foraging. This is one of our favourite mindful outdoor activities. There is no better way to plunge into the natural world then to taste it. Learning about the wild plant species and how to use them in our very own recipes is the ultimate reward when it comes to mindfully engaged nature therapy. Download our foraging planner pack to get started.
  • Listen to the sounds of the birds, the trees swaying, the bees buzzing and know that guided-walks-nature-therapynature is alive and well. The restorative power of natural sounds is worth exploring.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities that allow you to immerse yourself in your natural surroundings; sea swimming, walking, running, cycling and gardening are just a handful of the many outdoor activities that connect us with nature.
  • Learn about the many bird species as you engage in bird watching. You may need a pair of binoculars for this activity but even without them, watching the many beautiful birds and how they interact with the landscape it fascinating.
  • Study the plants like you have never seen them before. Many wild plants, trees and flowers become familiar sights throughout the seasons but do you know their scientific names? Do you know that many of them are used by herbalists? Do you know which ones are poisonous? Learning botany can be a lifelong passion.
  • Take your camera for a stroll. Photography is a skill that takes time to master but we all enjoy capturing those memorable moments. Use your photography skills to observe your natural surroundings and focus your lens on one or two important shots.
  • What do all of these activities have in common? They take place outdoors, in our natural environments and they don’t cost a thing if you wanted to try one today.

If you want to embark on a week long excursion or book a guide to do a tour and learn a new skill you are going to have to fork out some cash but once you are aware of the benefits of immersion in the natural world, it is always worth learning more. Believe me if you have experienced a holiday where nature is a key feature such as foraging in Europe or guided walking holidays, you will find it hard to go back to lounging at the pool for the week. Live mindfully as much as you can throughout the year with the activities above but once a year treat yourself to a special break away on one of our recommended tours and enjoy the nature that somewhere new has to offer.

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Virtual Nature Experiences

The subject of visual healing is not a new phenomenon. It is proven over centuries through the use of various art forms in therapeautic settings. Art therapy has been used in the history of mental health treatment so it makes sense that visual therapy offers the ability to reduce stress and inspire wellbeing. The term was officially coined in 1942 however is it clear from the renaissance art of the 14th century that appreciation for visual representations that evoke feelings and depict reality begin to come to the forefront. This notion of art as an expression of moods is developed further in the 20th century with renowned artists like Vincent Van Gogh using his paintings to reflect a mood at a point in time. Nature can also be used to reflect the mood of the seasons and give us living art and moving visuals to reflect upon.

What is new is the combination of virtual experiences and how we interpret moving visuals. By combining natural visuals with technology we can incorporate nature therapy into our everyday lives without leaving our homes. From scanning Google Earth to watching videos of surfers take on the waves of the Atlantic to using outdoor meditation videos on YouTube to practice meditation in your living room. The mechanisms needed to incorporate nature therapy into our lives is all around us. These applications will become more dominant as we increase our need to associate with the natural world, seeking out spaces that allow us to be live mindfully and peacefully.

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Is Orache Edible? Identify and Use Orache

Spear leaved Orache is a dusty green leaf that is commonly found on and near the beach. Coastal tracks will lead you to this salty wild treat. The first time we encountered to wild edible leaf was on a coastal foraging excursion to the west coast of Ireland with our foodie friend Denis. He would often stop and taste the delicacies of the land: samphire, dulce and chamomile were definitely on the list but then we stumbled upon Orache and he told me to try some. I was blown away.

This is the salty spinach I wanted to add to every soup dish I had tried so thanks to Denis we made a new discovery and have been using Orache to experiment ever since.

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What is Orache?

Orache is a green plant that loves to grow in saline laced sand and coastal areas. It is also know as Atriplex (A.prostrata)

How to Identify and Eat Orache Leaves

The spear headed leaves and the coastal location makes this tasty plant easy enough to identify.

There is a look-a-like plant called lambs quarter which is also an edible cousin of this plant but not as salty and mostly found near woodland.

The leaves are arrow like triangular shaped.

You can eat Orache leaves raw in a salad or fry them up in a little olive oil. Substitute it for some of your spinach recipes.

When to eat Orache?

Forage the young leaves in late March and April. They maintain their saltiness while also having sweeter tones that are easy to digest when raw. Harvest the mature leaves in summer time. I snip the leaves in the summer months, leaving the stems for wildlife to nibble on.

Orache Recipes

Orache Flatbread

Wild Orache Dip

Seafood and Orache Pho

 

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Spring Cleaning: 5 Ways to Use Cleavers

Cleavers aka Sticky Willies aka Goosegrass is a herbal treat in Springtime.

It is an annual sticky plant that you will find in your parks and woodland walks. They have small star shaped flowers attached to their pointy leaves. If you brush up against it you won’t need to pick it as it will naturally stick to any piece of clothing.

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Traditionally used to cleanse the blood and strenghten the liver, cleavers are particularly useful for a spring cleaning tonic. Native Indian tribes used this plant as an anti-inflammatory and to help with gonorrhoea. The cleansing properties can help to get rid of toxins in the body and decrease congestion. It has also been reported to help with Urinary tract infections and swollen lymph nodes. They can help to protect the lining of the bladder from irritation. Cleavers are also rich in silica, used to strengthen hair, nails and teeth. It may be worth adding a little cleaver smoothie to your beauty routine in Springtime.

Ways to Use Cleavers

Cleaver infused Water

This is the perfect afternoon refresher on a bright Spring day. Pick the young stems of the plant before they growth tall. Rinse them gently under water and chop finely. Add to a jug or bottle of water and let them infuse over night in the fridge. Add a slice of lemon to your glass and pour over the infused cleaver water.

Cleaver and Nettle Smoothie

Cleavers, nettles and pears are all that you need to make this delicious, healthy Spring smoothie. Packed full of nutrition and made to detox the body, this delicious smoothie is just what the doctor ordered. Blend 1 bunch of cleavers, 1 bunch of boiled nettles and 2 pears together. Add crushed ice, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprig of mint for extra flavour.

Herbal Cleaver Tea

Harvest your cleavers, leave them dry out for a few days, cut them into tiny pieces and use them with a spoonful of honey for a soothing cup of tea.

Cleaver Infused Oil

Dried cleavers and almond oil makes the perfect massage therapy. Put a half a cup of dried cleavers in a jar, fill the jar with almond oil and leave to infuse for two weeks. Enjoy this herbal skin treat.

Cleaver, Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup

Tis the season for green, wild soup and there are plenty of delicious plants out there to add to your homemade soup recipes. For this one we use 1 cup of cleavers, 1 cup of boiled nettles, 1/2 cup of chopped wild garlic or three cornered leek and two large potatoes. Boil the potatoes, add all contents to a pot of cold water and boil until bubbling hot. Add salt and pepper. Blend the ingredients together. Serve with some fresh, warm bread.

Note: Cleavers have a high tannin content and it is generally advised that you don’t use it or consume it for long periods of time.

This plant is natures way of telling us that we need to Spring clean our bodies as well as our houses. There are so many ways to use cleavers in your foraging recipes but hopefully the above tips will give you some food for thought. This plant is one of the reasons why foraging in Springtime is so much fun.

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Recipe: Wild Spring Samosas

This is one of my favourite Spring dishes. Serve them as snacks to impress your dinner guests or rustle them up as a lunch time treat. Our wild samosas will put a spring in your step. We used three of our most loved wild Spring ingredients for these delicious samosas but feel free to get creative and add your own wild herb mix.wild-spring-samosa-recipe

Samosa Ingredients

  • Three cornered leak
  • Wild garlic
  • Dried Nettles
  • Potatoes
  • Cumin
  • Tumeric
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Puff Pastry

Step 1. Boil your potatoes and mash them.

Step 2. Add a little olive oil to your pan. Next add wild-garlic-samosa-orchards-near-mechopped garlic leaves, three cornered leak, dandelion leaves, cumin, tumeric, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Fry gently for 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 3. Add your curry mix to your mash potatoes. Add 1/2 cup of frozen peas and stir for another 5 minutes.

Step 4. Roll out your puff pastry. Turn over a bowl and cut out circles. Cut your circles in half and brush tips with flour and water. Make cone shapes with your pastry and add a spoonful of your samosa filling. Squeeze the sides together.

Step 5. Bake until golden crisp.

Step 6. Enjoy

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What’s in Season? Foraging in February

There are wild treats to be found throughout the year but as we make our way into the Spring months the forests start to come alive. In February the snow capped slopes will start to appear green again and we can venture outdoors to get closer to nature.

So what’s in season at this time of the year. Foraging in February is fruitful if you know what to look for and where to find them.

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Hairy Bittercress

A common plant that grows year round and is the perfect replacement for cress or rocket in your salad dishes. Pick the leaves when young; February is an ideal time of year to collect these.

Nettles

This versatile stinging leaf is one of the most undervalued wild edibles around. From warming nettle soup to fresh nettle pesto there are so many ways to use this ingredient in Springtime.

Pennywort

Another underestimated small plant is pennywort. Often found crowded at the sides of forests and trees, this wild gem is said to help lower blood pressure. Eat it raw in salads or add it to dishes like you will find is some cuisine of Sri Lanka.

Wild Garlic

You will find this pungent plant growing in large patches in dense forests. Both the leaves and flowers are edible and chefs around the world will be out and about for wild garlic season. Follow your nose instead of your eyes for this wild plant as the smell will guide you to its location.

Watercress

As the name suggests this wild plant can be found near the water sides. It works well in soups and the raw leaves are packed full of nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Salad Burnet

As a member of the rose family we love this refreshing wild plant species. The leaves are small and delicate and often hard to identify. Many say that it tastes like cucumber which makes is a perfect addition to all winter salads.

Gorse

This is one of our favourite flowers. It has a mild coconut flavour and works a treat in salads and smoothies. Remember to leave some for the bees as they love these bright yellow flowers.

Be sure to wash all of your wild foraged foods carefully under luke warm water, never uproot the plant, be gentle and don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.

Now that you know whats out there you can begin your foraging in February adventures.

Enjoy learning about the wild foods around you and join us for a local forage in Ireland if you are nearby. You will find our guided day tours here.

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Springtime Foraging Tours 2020

Join us for a taste of the wild as we embark on unique adventures in Dublin and Wicklow for some Springtime foraging fun. We will enjoy learning about the land around us, getting a taste for foraging and making some new friends.

We are pleased to announce three public foraging tours for the coming months.

Friday 21st of Feb – Dublin

In February we will walk the trails, sample the wild food and discover the wild foods around us.

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Friday 6th of March – Dublin

In March we are planning our wild greens outing to the coast of Dublin where we pick some wild learns and get to know about the plant species living near the capital.

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Friday 13th of March – Wicklow

In the middle of March we will make our way to the heart of Wicklow where the mountains greet us and the forests house lots of hidden treasures for foragers to enjoy.

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We recommend that all participants bring a small picnic on the day as we will stop for a break to discuss the wild plants that we discover.

Some Foraging Rules:

  • Never taste anything that you cannot identify correctly
  • Wear gloves when picking
  • Never pick from the root as you will kill the plant
  • Always forage with a friend (preferably one who has knowledge of wild plant species).
  • Do not pick endangered species
  • Do not take more than you need

If you have any questions about your tour please contact one of our foraging team at info@orchardsnearme.com

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