Following on from our Blackberry Watch blog a few weeks ago – if you didn’t catch it, read it here! September is fast approaching, a time when the hedgerows should be laden with these seasonal fruits. But rain and unseasonally cool temperatures this summer have delayed matters. However, there is good news. We have seen some Facebook posts from various parts of the country which look more promising. Some people have been out picking already. And on our travels, we have certainly seen for ourselves some berries on their way to ripening, in the more sheltered and sunny hedgerows of Ireland. So it seems there may be a blackberry harvest after all. Mushroom time is also approaching, when big field mushrooms and wild mushroom varieties will spread across fields and forest floors. But do remember when you are foraging , Aesop’s Fable about The Goose that laid the Golden Eggs. As the ancient tale goes, an old man and his wife had a goose that laid a single golden egg every day. They couldn’t believe their luck as their wealth began to grow. But soon, greed overcame them. They thought that if their goose could lay a golden egg every day, she must have her delicate insides lined with lots of pure gold. So they killed her. But when she was butchered, they discovered she was just like any normal goose. She had no gold insides. In order to get richer quicker, they had slain their magic bird. And in the process, had destroyed their good fortune.
As the autumn foraging season gets underway, this story has a useful moral. Take care to take only what you need. Don’t be like the couple who got too greedy and eventualy killed their wealth. It’s easy to overpick or gather and leave nothing for birds and other wildlife to eat. And to damage an area so it won’t grow back again. Tread lightly. Pick wisely. And enjoy the magic bounty that Ireland gives us, free of charge.
If you fancy visiting a restaurant that really knows where it’s at in the foraging game, try The Strawberry Tree Restaurant at Brooklodge Hotel in Co.Wicklow. Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant which serves a menu made up of only organic and wild foods. You will find plenty of seasonal produce picked from the locality at all times of the year. A forager’s and organic food lover’s paradise!