Foraging Fortnight at the Festival

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.

Foraging events 2021

WORKSHOP : BLACK GOLD – THE ART OF COMPOSTING

September 5, 2021 → 10:30 am11:30 am

It’s a way of recycling your own household and garden waste into some of the finest fertiliser and soil conditioner for your plants. The work is carried out by many, organisms and out of it comes something rich and alive – a mix of nutrients, bacteria and fungi mycelia. ...

A WEALTH OF WEEDS

September 6, 2021 → 5:00 pm6:00 pm

Gardening can sometimes seem a battle against those plants we consider weeds which want to grow in our carefully-prepared spaces for flowers and vegetables. But, say ethnobotanical researcher Anna Canning and gardener/composter Elizabeth Woodcock, there are other ways ...

JOIN US FOR LUNCH …

September 8, 2021 → 12:45 pm1:15 pm

... with mountaineer and photographer Tristan Cameron-Harper back to see us with more scenes from his travels in Orkney. Eric Walker looks upward into the Orkney night sky, and Sandy Smith brings us news of the outcome of the Great Molecule Hunt and draws the winning entry ...

Foraging events 2020

SEAWEED FROM THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

September 4, 2020 → 11:30 am12:15 pm

Off Norway’s coast, right on the Arctic Circle, the cold clean waters around the little island of Træna produce fine seaweed, which the Northern Company harvests and sells. The company’s founder, Zoe Christiansen, describes its sea and laboratory work, in a small fishing community of less than 500 people, amidst spectacular scenery and northern light.

A HOY AND RACKWICK EVENING

September 4, 2020 → 7:00 pm7:30 pm

Take the ferry from Stromness to Moaness pier, and walk up the brae to the Hoy Kirk for seaweed soup for supper, with a recipe here for you to prepare at home in advance. Then sit back and enjoy some music, with the story of Jimmy o’ the Bu’s Polka, with memories from his grand-daughter Jean Thomson and his tune played by six of his great-great-grandchildren, including the fiddle that he played on. Then we hear the story of settlement in Rackwick from archaeologist Dan Lee.

WORKSHOP: PAPERMAKING FROM NATURAL MATERIALS

September 5, 2020 → 10:00 am12:00 pm

An opportunity to learn the basic elements of the art, as artist Lin Chau leads you through the process of mould and deckle making, preparing plant pulp fibre, pulling a sheet and couching it, then pressing the paper. All age groups are welcome, with no prior experience required, but numbers are limited, so booking is essential. The booking fee of £15 includes a starter pack (UK delivery only) with a simple meshed frame, 4 different kinds of plant fibre, a packet of Orkney native wild flower seeds, some pressed flowers, and 4 pieces of J-cloths. You will need some home items as well.

ALONG THE TIDE-MARK GATHERING DRIFT

September 5, 2020 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

A beaver-chewed timber from North America, a sea heart from the rainforests of the southern Caribbean. A skate’s egg case, a lump of paraffin wax, and a lobster creel tag from Newfoundland. Martin Gray, who runs the Orkney Beachcombing page, describes the wealth of treasures that wash up on an Orkney shore and the searching and foraging quest that has taken Orcadians to the shore since Neolithic times and before.

GRAEMSAY AHEAD

September 6, 2020 → 10:30 am11:15 am

There’s an opportunity to explore the island in 360-degree photospheres, and learn about its natural history and cultural heritage. Hidden within the photospheres you'll discover multimedia gems of all kinds for you to enjoy from home. Sail from Stromness with Katy Firth of Stromness Museum and enjoy the view of the harbour. On the island you will see Sandside Bay and the lighthouse, and views across Hoy Sound, and hear more of Graemsay's story.

THE WAY BACK HOME

September 8, 2020 → 8:00 pm8:45 pm

Could life after lockdown provide an opportunity for reflection, and a return to a healthier relationship with the natural world? We are an intrinsic part of it, says Elizabeth Woodcock, walk leader, horticulturist and writer. She interweaves the work of writers, poets and scientists with images of the surrounding landscape of the Cumbrian Fells, to explore gardens, brains, lanes and life.

Foraging events 2019

WORKSHOP: TANNING FISH SKINS

September 6, 2019 → 11:30 am3:30 pm

Wilderness instructor Zeki Basan shows you how to use the tannin from heather, and other natural materials, to turn salmon skins into a soft and strong leather. Outdoor event, numbers limited, booking essential. Hosted by Wheems Organic Farm, South Ronaldsay.

FOOD FROM THE NEOLITHIC

September 7, 2019 → 7:00 pm10:00 pm

Andrew Appleby invites you to join chef Sam Britten with a menu of Orkney fare that’s been foraged, fished, hunted and grown. Between the courses there’s some background on Neolithic food and pottery, and ancient music from Kate Fletcher, Corwen Broch and David Griffith. Booking essential: tickets £13.75. In association with the John Rae Society

SHORE AND SEAWEED WORKSHOPS

September 8, 2019 → 10:00 am2:00 pm

Come out to the West Shore for four family-friendly activities. Learn to identify seaweeds and make your own seaweed artwork. Forage for pigments and mark-making materials – and for seaweeds and plants, and build a beach fire to cook a

LIVING OFF THE LAND

September 8, 2019 → 3:30 pm4:30 pm

Birch-flavoured breadsticks with pine-shoot dipping sauce, salt-marinated char with mountain sorrel sauce, and chocolate pralines with brandy-pickled rowan berries…. Eva Gunnare lives in Jokkmokk in Swedish Lapland, foraging in summer for Arctic herbs and berries in the mountains and forests around, and blending traditional recipes with modern creations – with some tasters for you to try. In association with the John Rae Society

THE ICE AND THE ISLANDS

September 8, 2019 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

A new look at the deep past of the western and northern isles – the disintegration of the ice, the growth of a western forest and its survival through a 1500-year return to cold and the creation of islands by the rising oceean. Where did the plants and animals come from? Steve Webster from the Western Isles examines new evidence and suggests fresh possibilities.

OUTING: FORAGING ON THE EAGLES’ PATH

September 9, 2019 → 9:30 am12:30 pm

Join wilderness instructor Zeki Basan on a foraging walk where Orkney people gathered plants for food 5000 years ago. Outdoor event, numbers limited, booking essential. £20 price includes visit to the Tomb of the Eagles and Bronze Age burnt mound.

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