For the birds…

Let them eat….Sloes?

Blackberry gatheringAlas despite my joy at thinking I had discovered a bountiful sloe hedge last week I had so many things to do ( birthday, work, housework etc) that I never got round to collecting them. Today I eagerly gathered my ‘tools’ ( bag. gloves. ladder just in case..) and set off up the back lane to gather about 500g of them to make sloe gin for the October foraging course, only to discover the bush in question had been stripped bare!
Just as well as it seems that it is too early for sloe harvesting – Apparently I should wait until after the first frost between Sept – November! ( Reasons I will never ever guess a mushroom and only get super experienced guides to teach any courses featured here!)
Blackberry gatheringLuckily I spotted another bush even closer to me that is still to ripen so I may yet be lucky… Meantime I could not ignore the juicy gorgeous blackberries that were smiling at me saying “pick me…squish me…eat me…“..
I gathered together enough to make some nice homemade jam- this will be my first attempt – I usually just soak them to get rid of insects then heat in a pan and make it into mush into which I dip fresh bakery bread! (I have yet to delve into making bread)
This lot I will be making jam with…so they are currently soaking on the picnic bench with my specially engineered escape route for the insects to leggit before it’s too late – call me a softie..
Blackberry Jam recipe I will be using:
Wish me luck!
Roz 🙂

How To Make Sloe Gin

Sloe Gin

Sloes are the bitter purple fruits of the Blackthorn Shrub which can be harvested in Autumn for making wine, preserves and our favourite, sloe gin.
Here is a recipe that we will be trying out shortly at EcoActive Ireland.
You will need:

  • 450g ripe sloes
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 litre bottle of gin
  • A sterilized jar
  • A sharp fork
  • A sieve or piece of muslin
  • A few clean bottles

Prick the tough skin of the sloes a few times with a  fork then place them in a sterilized jar.
Add the gin and sugar ensuring you seal the jar tightly then shake well – the jar that is not you 🙂
Store the jar in a cool dark place shaking every other day for a week, changing to shake once a week for two months after that.
After the two months strain the liquid into clean bottles using a sieve or piece of muslin.
Your sloe gin should now be dark red in colour and is ready to drink although as it will continue with age you may wish to keep it for Christmas.

Food Foraging Courses

Walk on the Wild Side

FIND IT, PICK IT, COOK IT, EAT IT! Walk on the Wild Side
We will lead you on a dazzling food for free adventure deep into the woods to discover dainty salad leaves, wild garlic, berries, fungi, edible shoots and lots, lots more.
This walk suitable for for wild food enthusiasts, foragers and lovers of the great outdoors. survive in the wild enthusiasts and all who are interested in food for free
Foraging Walk Sunday September 1st.

  • Time 12 noon – 4pm
  • €40 (inc Booking Fee)

Foraging Walk Sunday September 22nd.

  • Time  12 noon – 4pm
  • €40 (inc Booking Fee)

Please bring a basket, boots and a coat in case the weather is cold or wet.
Meeting Point:
The Old Rectory,  Killedmond, Carlow:   View Map Here >>
To View ALL Courses and dates click here >>
Book Now

Wild Mushroom Foraging Course

Wild Mushroom Hunts with Mary White

There is something deeply satisfying about going into a beautiful wood looking for wild mushrooms .The combination of trees, undergrowth and stillness combined with the thrill of discovering some delicious edible fungi or getting to know some of the fantastic varieties that live in our broadleaf or coniferous woods appeals to us.
Whether it is the brightly coloured Fly Agarics of our childhood stories or the combination of can I eat it? or will it make me sick? makes us want to know more about these fascinating species.

Hedgehog Fungus

On Saturday September 28th we will host our first Mushroom Hunt and then on Saturday October 5th we will hold a second Wild Mushroom Hunt in the lovely woods of the Blackstairs.
Cost per person is €50 per person plus €5 booking fee which includes all snacks, refreshments and a delicious organic lunch plus the opportunity to learn the names of some of our commonest mushrooms . Hopefully we will find some edibles, Ceps and Chanterelles which we will cook up after our Mushroom Hunt .
Please bring a basket, boots and a coat in case the weather is cold or wet.
Boletus Edulis
Beautiful Boletus Edulis or Cep

As this is one of our most popular events, please do book in good time as places are limited.

  • Start Time 10.30.
  • Meet at the Old Rectory, Killedmond for an introductory chat plus light refreshments then off into the woods to see what we can find.
  • We will come back to lunch and then name all we find and cook up the edible ones.
  • We finish at 4.30.
  • Map to Meeting Point:  View Map Here >>

We look forward to seeing you soon. Booking is essential
Saturday September 28th Mushroom Hunt:
€55 (inc Booking Fee)
Saturday October 5th Mushroom Hunt: This event is now FULL.
€55 (inc Booking Fee)

Blessington Family Bat Walk

Blessington Family Bat Walk
Thursday 22nd August: Blessington Family Bat Walk
Would you like to learn about Ireland’s bats and witness these fascinating creatures in action? Then join the Native Woodland Trust on the 22nd August from 8pm to 10:30pm for a guided bat walk on our Blessington Nature Reserve. On the walk you will be guided through our Blessington reserve at nightfall stopping to see how many bats and other creatures we can see and hear.
The Native Woodland Trust is an environmental charity dedicated to the protection of Ireland’s rare native and ancient woodland. The Trust achieves this by setting up woodland reserves around the country such as their reserve at Blessington in County Wicklow. This reserves network allows the Trust to protect existing woodland as well as plant new native woodland for the future. As part our work we run guided educational walks of our reserves to help the community get out and learn about their local woodland heritage at fun informative events.
With its old stone bridge, mature trees and waterways our Blessington Reserve is the perfect habitat for bats. Ireland’s bats are fascinating, curious and important animals all of which are protected under European conservation law. Join us to learn about these furry little native woodland inhabitants and to see how many we can spot with our bat detector!  The meeting point for this walk will be at 8:00 pm at the ESB car park off the N81 just south of the reserve. For a map and further details please check our website or the events section of our Facebook page. The walk will run from 8:00 pm until 10:30pm and all are welcome. The event is free for NWT members with a suggested donation of €4 for non-members. For more details please contact Kirsty at or on 087 9619083.
Meeting Point: ESB car park on N81 south of the reserve.
Bring: If you have a torch bring it along, if not torches will be supplied.
Meeting Time: 8:00 pm
Event Finish: 10:30 pm

GIY Wexford (Grow It Yourself)

Wexford GIY (Grow It Yourself)

by Betty Kehoe, Aisling Designs & Landscapes
On the third Monday night of every month, a group of eager people meet in the Riverbank House Hotel, in Wexford. The reason for this get together is to inspire & encourage each other in the task of growing their own food. GIYing has become part of the normal everyday life of Wexford people.
The desire for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle has inspired many people, of all ages, all socio economic groups and all nationalities to engage in this activity.
We have lost sight, in recent years, of where our food is coming from and of even more concern, what processes and chemicals are being used to produce our food. This has led many people to strive to regain the old skills of growing their own vegetables and fruit. Indeed a lot of households today are home to a clutch of chickens and even a pig or two.
The schools around Wexford are also getting into the swing of GIY. Many schools have their own kitchen gardens, where children can get involved in growing food crops, equipping them with vital survival skills.
Wexford GIY group meetings are a great source of shared learning, the more experienced growers helping and encouraging beginner growers. The meetings also have a great social aspect, with like minded people meeting and chatting. Many people head down to the Bar for refreshments after the meeting, building long lasting friendships.
Everyone is welcome to come along to the Wexford GIY meetings. There are no membership or admission fees.
The meetings are held at The Riverbank House Hotel, Wexford on the third Monday night of every month at 7.30.
Email or text reminders of the upcoming meeting are sent out to all.
Wexford GIY would like to thank the Riverbank House Hotel most sincerely for the use of the conference room. It is greatly appreciated.
Further information can be had from Betty Kehoe 086 4007993 or Anne Troy 086 2766247

Fraser Christian

A Bit about Fraser Christian:

fraser-christianFraser Christian grew up in the South Cotswold and as a young boy enjoyed the surrounding countryside and the wilder parts of the UK. As a Boy Scout he even reached the summit of Ben Nevis in Scotland, the highest peak in the UK and also climbed England’s Scafell Pike in the Lake District.
Fraser’s other interests and achievements include conservation, self-sufficiency, backwoods cookery and personal survival techniques. The latter includes fishing, shooting and trapping.
Upon Leaving School, Fraser embarked on a college course in catering and worked towards becoming a chef.
He left college with the highest exam result of any student and ranked in the top ten in the country and received a honours distinction in catering.
Whilst at college studying nutrients he discovered the secret healing properties of herbs and that Herbs are not only very good for the digestive system, but also the well being of the whole body. Since then he has continued exploring herbal benefits and the vast range of wild foods and medicines.
Environmental issues lay close to his heart. With his wealth of knowledge Fraser would love to share his views about the environment and the oceans, especially where fishing is concerned.
Fraser also hosted and contributed to the fish events at River Cottage HQ owned by the famous TV personality and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the Devon and Dorset border.
As a humanitarian Fraser believes that self-sufficiency is the key to a balanced mind and allows release from responsibilities of society and others that provide basic human requirements that is key to self-preservation and existence.
Fishing is now the medium he works most closely with and is aiming to educate people on how they can protect the world’s marine environment and its rich and diverse sources of food and teach them to be able to collect it, catch it, prepare it, cook it and enjoy it!
As featured on Channel 4, River Cottage, ITV West Country Tonight,BBC Radio Bristol,Country Life Magazine and much more.