Foraging for Wild Foods

Dear friends –

As summer gives way to autumn we have been enjoying the changing colours and moods of the forest as always.

As we all make our peace with what this year has been so far in our different ways, many of us are making conscious choices that give us more resilience, freedom and joy under any circumstances – and that often starts with earth connection.

Here at Eco Retreats we are excited about expanding our offering of bespoke meditation, yoga and reiki sessions and also beginning to offer a range of bushcraft options next year, starting with foraging walks in the forest from October (see below).

Many of our guests have already met Ben, who’s been working with us since the summer, and we have really been enjoying absorbing his foraging wisdom! Below we share his blog on the magical properties of the stinging nettle – you can read the full version with more tips on how to pick and use nettles here.

“Through beginning to understand our environment we again become indigenous, at home in our surroundings. This provides a deep inner peace. We enter into what the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls ‘interbeing’; the dance of life with life - all beings interconnected harmoniously. To me, this is the epitome of nature connectedness.

What better place to begin an exploration into nature connection than with the humble, recognizable and misunderstood stinging nettle? A nutritious green, abundantly available for free in every corner of Britain (including Eco Retreats!). It appears in early Spring and this is the best time to eat its young leaves. They contain all the essential amino acids, are very high in protein, vitamin C, iron and chlorophyll. The latter two make the nettle an excellent base for blood tonics; nettles are said to improve circulation and reduce blood sugar levels, as well as act as a treatment for anaemia. (Do not eat nettle leaves once the flowers appear (between June and September) as during this time they will contain something called cystoliths, which is not good for humans to consume.)

Later in the year, the stem can be crafted into a strong twine and foraged fishing line. Nettle fibres can even be spun into linen and were an important fibre up until the 19th century. Whipping with nettles around an affected area used to be performed to treat arthritic joints, something that is now being explored scientifically.

Nettle tea is one of the greatest ways to work with this humble plant. Take 2-5 young leaves and rinse under cold water, finely chop and steep for 15 minutes in boiling water. I love to sweeten the tea with a little honey. You can consume the whole drink, leaves and all. Drink it slowly, feel it flow into your body, taste the wild flavours, show gratitude for natures generous gifts. It is packed with nutrition.

Chopped nettles steeped in hot water are said to give glow and health to the hair. Chop a bundle of nettles and allow them to brew in hot water until the water cools to a comfortable temperature, then remove the plant and wash your hair with the magic potion. You can use the whole plant, or just the leaves.

The many benefits of nettles make it a potent hedgerow medicinal. Folk medicine suggest that a variety of tinctures and decoctions can help to heal burns, skin problems and fungal infections, are anti-inflammatory, can balance urinary flow, soothe coughs, support the kidneys and even work as an aphrodisiac.”

We look forward to bringing you more foraging knowledge soon.

We still have a few slots available in October for those inspired to book an autumn getaway in nature, to experience that profound connection with earth and all its benefits. We are not affected by any local lockdown restrictions and are open for business and accepting guests as usual.

Look forward to seeing you soon!

love
Margaret

Foraging for Wild Foods and Medicinals:

The session will cover why we forage (nature connection, becoming indigenous to your place, learning a landscape, attuning to seasons) and what we can do with what we forage (e.g., teas, remedies, medicines, foods, cordage, alcohol, wild flours and sugars). It includes a slow gathering walk learning about plants, mushrooms, leaves, bark and roots, and covering some folklore of trees and basic ID tips. The session ends with making a fire and a foraged tea to share.

Sessions will last 2-3 hours, tailored to the interests of each group. Children are welcome together with their parents.

Ben Stopford is a traveller, environmentalist, writer and founder of Conscious Roots, a social enterprise and platform for the union of philosophy, ethical living, sustainability and spirituality. A keen outdoorsman, graduate of Philosophy and MSc student of Sustainable Food and Natural Resources, Ben has spent many years studying the complexity of environmental issues we face, and living the solutions. You can learn more at www.consciousroots.co.uk

Please reach out directly to Ben if you would like to learn more and schedule your wild connection adventure – email [email protected] or call 07885 522 510.

Facebook reviews

Eco Retreats
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Simon Edgar
Simon Edgar
2020-08-13T08:59:02+0000
An amazing location perfect to escape the outside world and enjoy life
Emma Leigh Burton
Emma Leigh Burton
2019-10-13T17:43:06+0000
We have just had the best weekend here in the ash valley yurt ! It’s definitely a holiday everyone will remember for a long time ! Thank you for making such... a special placeread more
Suzy Box
Suzy Box
2019-10-01T14:52:05+0000
Great place to unwind and reconnect as a couple
Natalie Morris
Natalie Morris
2019-08-28T15:32:34+0000
Just had an amazing few days relaxing in the River Yurt. Beautiful stunning location, peace & tranquility a time to just chill out and watch our daughter play... on the open meadow & river. The outdoor bath was perfect on a summer evening to lay back and watch the sky come alive with stars!! Would definitely recommendread more
Rachel Harper
Rachel Harper
2019-08-26T10:57:20+0000
We’ve just had the best 2 nights in the Ash Valley yurt! The outdoor bath was brilliant! Complete privacy, if you don’t include the sheep 🐑 my 11yo boys... have loved chopping wood, starting fires, making dens and playing in the stream whilst my partner and I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the peace 😌 I would 100% recommend this place, Margaret and her daughter were most welcoming. You have everything you need already there. Thank you for such a lovely experience xread more
Charlotte Edwards
Charlotte Edwards
2019-08-23T15:10:33+0000
Absolutely magical 😍 I so wish I'd booked for more than two nights! We stayed in the meadow yurt, complete privacy, surrounded by forest and mountains, and... nothing to hear but for birds and waterfalls. There is so much on site to explore we didn't have time to see half of it! We spent an afternoon climbing up the hill behind the yurt and swimming in waterfalls before jumping in that beautiful wood fired bath 😍 and visited a few beautiful spots in Snowdonia. Can't wait to come back!read more
Chris Lowe
Chris Lowe
2019-08-22T19:48:00+0000
Peaceful, wonderful setting.
Shea Hollis
Shea Hollis
2019-08-18T16:05:41+0000
Honestly, this place is truly magical. Utter blissful escapism for all ages. Fireheated outdoor bath and your own private waterfall? Just perfect.
Vik Taylor
Vik Taylor
2018-10-24T19:49:57+0000
We enjoyed our 1st stay last week for 4 nights with our baby in a tipi and we loved every second of it. we had a warm welcome when we arrived, tipi already... warmed up too. we were supplied with every thing we needed. we enjoyed the lush hot bath looking at the clear sky at night. the view every morning was beautifal. everything so peaceful and quiet. all we could hear was the sound of the running water, trees rustling in the wind and the shoothing sound of wildlife. It was perfect. thankyou to Angus and Margaret. you literally thought of everything. thankyou. Will be booking for next year. cant wait.read more
Stewart Hoyle
Stewart Hoyle
2018-08-24T20:01:19+0000
a get-away from technology
Karen Morley
Karen Morley
2018-07-24T20:27:58+0000
Had a brilliant time in the meadow yurt with our 2 children. It was so peaceful and relaxing, everything that we needed was supplied. It was lovely being... able to sit outside by the fire toasting marshmallows and having bbqs. The bath was amazing being able to totally relax outside in the peace and quiet. Our boys loved it especially the bath and paddling in the river. We would recommend to go try it to every one.read more
Neil Stanton
Neil Stanton
2018-06-18T14:38:49+0000
Beautiful location and the facilities were excellent. Spent a very relaxing weekend in the Cwm Onnen Tipi enjoying the scenery. Very comfortable and loved the... wood-fired bath. We'll be back next year (hopefully with slightly better weather).read more
Jason Stirzaker
Jason Stirzaker
2018-04-04T11:02:49+0000
After a last minute decision to go away for the night we came across Eco-Retreats and their amazing looking Tipis and Yurts, set in equally amazing... surroundings. They were so accomadating for us as we could only stay one night, and had rang up on the same morning we were staying. We got such a warm, friendly welcome and they really do go out their way to be there to meet & greet you (you'll understand just how much when you go). What a truly beautiful site quite literally away from it all. We stayed in the Forest Tipi which was set within it's own patch of land up a short trail to really give it an extra isolated feel. The outdoor bath really is amazing and well worth the wait to warm up, even in early April temperatures and light rain so would be absolutely perfect on more warmer nights. The Tipi itself was equipped with all that you'd need and the Chimenea did a good job of keeping us warm, even with the surprise blanket of snow we got in the night. I'd highly recommend this place to anyone wanting a truly different experience and appreciates being close to nature and getting back to basics, while still retaining the comfort of a bed at night.read more
Eric Stannard
Eric Stannard
2017-08-21T20:43:59+0000
From booking to arrival they were very helpful. After a quick overview of how to operate the tipi and fires we were left to our own devises to enjoy the... tranquility and setting of the waterfall tipi. The tipi has everything you need for your stay and we found it warm and dry despite the wet weather. The fire in the tipi takes the place of the TV and the dancing flames soon become mesmerising; the background sounds of the waterfall and rain on canvas are relaxing and the dancing flames of the tea lights in the lanterns complete your escape from the modern world. The rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy a warm bath in the open air in the woods and is well worth the effort of keeping the fire going. All in all a fantastic escape away from modern distractions.read more
Louise Gresty
Louise Gresty
2017-07-26T17:43:03+0000
Brilliant feeling of being miles from anywhere, in a lovely peaceful setting with amazing views, having your own fire either indoors in the stove or outside... campfire and it was very comfortable too.read more
Dan Shephard
Dan Shephard
2017-07-23T21:05:33+0000
Christopher Charles
Christopher Charles
2017-05-25T07:10:31+0000
The most beautiful and remotest place I've ever found in wales � we go back year after year and it just gets better... ����������������read more
Gracie Hindley
Gracie Hindley
2017-05-15T08:29:13+0000
My boyfriend and I stayed in the Meadow Yurt last weekend. The trip was everything we could have wanted, and more! Beautiful yurt filled with all the equipment... you need for your stay. The wood fired bath was also a huge highlight for us. Would thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting a quiet, stress-free getaway!read more
Andrew Calogirou
Andrew Calogirou
2017-05-04T05:36:23+0000
Amazing location and the River Yurt is amazing. Been 2 years in a row now and want to go again already.
Megan Hunt
Megan Hunt
2017-05-02T22:11:54+0000
We loved it here and can not wait to return one day.
Rachel Smiler Berwick
Rachel Smiler Berwick
2017-04-27T14:02:26+0000
Cannot recommend this place enough. It was our 2nd year back this year with our 4 year old & it never fails to impress. We just love staying in the waterfall... Tipi :) booking process is excellent & the stay is even better especially being able to have a bath in the forest ;) thankyou again and we will see you next year xxxxread more
Kerrie Henriques
Kerrie Henriques
2017-04-14T18:58:51+0000
Absolutely amazing, such a great experience. Super friendly staff. Thank you �
Will Sfakiotakis
Will Sfakiotakis
2017-04-14T18:53:22+0000
Highly recommended! (River Yurt) A beautiful place to be, hosted by genuine, welcoming, and helpful staff. We will be coming back! A truly grounding and... humbling experience. Loved it ��read more
Robert Cox
Robert Cox
2016-10-13T19:11:56+0000
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Ben Stopford

Ben Stopford

Ben is a traveller, environmentalist, writer and founder of Conscious Roots, a platform for the union of philosophy, ethical living, sustainability, and spirituality. A keen outdoorsman, he is currently training as a Bushcraft Instructor and will soon be running a variety of courses from foraging to deep ecology. A great believer in voluntary simplicity, the Dana economy, Ecocentrism, and meditation, he spends much of his time exploring the complexities of these ways in daily life.
Ben Stopford

Ben Stopford

Ben is a traveller, environmentalist, writer and founder of Conscious Roots, a platform for the union of philosophy, ethical living, sustainability, and spirituality. A keen outdoorsman, he is currently training as a Bushcraft Instructor and will soon be running a variety of courses from foraging to deep ecology. A great believer in voluntary simplicity, the Dana economy, Ecocentrism, and meditation, he spends much of his time exploring the complexities of these ways in daily life.
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