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Learn more about the wild greens of Cyprus

The recent rains may have filled the reservoirs and ended our four-year drought, but it’s caused any amount of problems on this otherwise dry island! Almost everyone has been affected by the resulting power cuts, road closures, and overflowing rivers which have caused any amount of property damage, closed schools, and even seen events cancelled! One such event is CyHerbia’s Wild Greens of Cyprus Workshop, originally scheduled for the end of February, but postponed due to the flooding. Fortunately, explains the park’s owner and founder Miranda Tringis, an excess of water at a botanical garden is actually a good thing! Plus we’ve now all got more time to get ourselves organised for this much-anticipated annual event…

A perennial CyHerbia favourite, the Wild Greens Workshop helps participants learn to identify, prepare and cook the wild, edible greens that grow in abundance at this time of year. “The cold of winter has, for the most part, passed, and we all want to be outside more,” says Miranda. “And that’s great because, wherever you go on the island, there are these wild greens that can make such a difference to one’s health! This is definitely the time of year to look for them,” she continues. “In a month or so, they’ll all have gone over, gone seedy. You can still use them in teas, but they won’t deliver quite the same tenderness and health boost as they do right now…”

Jam-packed with nutrients, these wild greens not only feed but also heal the body. All over the island they grow in abundance: wild chard, an entire family of beneficial thistles, wild artichokes, edible bulbs and nettle – “a panacea,” explains Miranda, “that’s the queen of wild greens and one of my top five herbs.”

As one of the island’s foremost herbalists, it’s Miranda herself who will be sharing her wealth of knowledge during the workshop, revealing what to look for and where it can be found. And, in that the event will be taking place within the confines of Cyprus’ premier botanical gardens, there’s a fascinating hands-on aspect to the workshop as well: “It’s one thing to hold up a plant for people to see, and quite another to be able to identify it in its habitat,” Miranda explains. “During the workshop, we’re not only talking about how to prepare and cook the plants, but we’ll also be taking a walk in our woodland gardens and park, actually teaching participants what to look for when they’re out and about…

“Most wild greens,” she continues, “will grow literally anywhere. I’ve seen wild mustard, for example, spring up all over building sites! Of course if you’re going to head out to the fields for a forage, it’s imperative to avoid the fumes and mess of the roadside; walk well away from polluted areas and chose a patch of field that hasn’t been sprayed. You’ll often find wild mustard in wheat fields,” she continues. “It has beautiful yellow flowers which are a wonderful garnish, delivering a dry, peppery taste; the young shoots can be eaten as a vegetable, and the young leaves can be added to salad. It’s an incredibly nourishing plant, high in iron, and other minerals including vitamin C.

“When you nourish your body you boost the immune system,” she adds. “And the overall healing effect of any one plant is far greater than the sum of its components: it’s the synergy of the entire plant which creates the effect. Mallow, for instance, is everywhere at this time of year, and there’s no better remedy for gastritis and inflammation. When cooked correctly, it releases a mucilage that’s medicinal in its properties, creating a protective film on the stomach lining, as well as aiding dry coughs and healing and soothing any inflammation.”

Taking place in both English (March 9) and in Greek (March 10), the workshop is a walk-up event with space for roughly 60 people; another in CyHerbia’s wonderful ongoing event series which includes the Green Monday event (raw and cooked vegan delights, treasure hunt, and traditional games for kids) and the Fairy Fest at the end of the month. “What we do at the park is always about helping people reconnect with nature: to really see nature and be enchanted by it, to learn to love it and nurture it,” Miranda concludes. “In all our events, we aim to inspire the imagination and captivate with the wonder of nature: the wonder that makes the natural world – especially these seasonal wild greens – just so marvellous for our health and wellbeing!”

 

 

 

The Wild Greens of Cyprus

Workshop at CyHerbia Botanical Gardens takes place between noon and 1.30pm on March 9 (in English) and on March 10 (in Greek). Normal entrance fees apply: €5 for adults and €3 for children. Under 5s free. Booking is not required. For more information, call 99 915443 or visit https://cyherbia.com

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