Orkney International Science Festival has an added outdoor dimension through collaborating with a new Foraging Fortnight established in Scotland.
Foraging food from the wild, once standard for older generations, is now reviving, with its benefits for nutrition and exercise and the opportunity to connect to the natural world.
Foraging Fortnight came about through a LEADER-funded initiative covering five Scottish regions – Lanarkshire, Fife, Moray; Forth Valley and Lomond, and Orkney.
Through it, the Festival’s programme has been enhanced by a number of new events, including shore outings and papermaking from natural materials. In 2019 there were talks on wild food in Scandinavia, a look at the potential of seaweed for health and nutrition, and an evening of foraged food from the Neolithic.
We were also outdoors with ethnobotanical researcher Anna Canning and Orkney wildlife guide Megan Taylor, on outings on parts of the St Magnus Way, including an expedition by the shores of Scapa Flow – along the sand of Waulkmill Bay and the RSPB’s Hobbister bird reserve, by the shore of Scapa Flow. It rained but everyone was well prepared, and there was a picnic lunch of local fare – and also some wild plants to identify and sample.
In 2020 and 2021 we went online, with a range of talks and filmed outings, and for 2022 we hope to have in addition a number of walks and outings in various parts of Orkney.