“It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again ‘invisibly’ inside us.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Did you know that:
- As well as being a food, a medicine and a plant fertiliser nettles have also be used to spin the finest linen?
- As well as producing delicious fruit blackberries are also used medicinally and that the leaves contain more antioxidants than green tea?
- Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, are a potassium supplement, a diuretic and also a tonic to the liver, whilst the roots can be steamed or stir fried as a vegetable, used for a liver cleanse or roasted as a coffee substitute?
- The elder tree produces flowers that can be used for food and medicine, it produces berries that can be eaten but which have also been shown to as effective for colds and flus as Echinacea is? As well as being effective they can be harvested sustainably; because the berries are being harvested the plant is not destroyed and can continue to provide food for bees and insects and birds and to provide a habitat for several species, including badgers who often build their dens near elder trees. As a native species it is particularly important for supporting native wildlife.
One of the visions of Veriditas Hibernica is to work with people to connect them to their local flora and help them reclaim the knowledge about traditional uses, cultivation and wild-crafting methods (as well as the new and interesting stuff that is being discovered!).
Since prehistory people have used plants for food, medicine, textiles, building materials, fuel, religious rituals and much more besides. The relationship between plants and people is a central part of our culture and heritage; however, the last 50 years have seen an accelerated erosion of the value placed on this part of our culture. We are fortunate to live at a time when its value is beginning to be recognized again; and fortunate that it is not too late to reclaim our herbal heritage. We also live at a time when many traditional plant uses are being validated by research and new uses are being discovered. People are beginning to recognize the value of connecting with their local plant knowledge, rather than always looking for exotics to plant as ornaments, use as food or as medicines.
Ireland is fortunate to have a climate where many valuable plants will grow. Ireland does not have as many species of indigenous plants as the UK or mainland Europe, yet the number of species that have potential medicinal, nutritional, cosmetic, or material uses is phenomenal. We also have a climate where many valuable species will grow successfully as crops incorporated into sustainable farming practice.
Also, in Ireland significant amounts of our traditional knowledge were gathered by the Schools Survey in the 1930s; an ethnobotancial survey resulting in the compilation of 1100 volumes which are stored in the Department of Irish Folklore at UCD; this means that we have one of the fullest records of this information in this part of the world. Similar studies are being carried out in other regions of Europe and throughout the world at the present time and so the bank of knowledge is starting to expand rather than contract. New research is being conducted into the uses of plants, into their potential as sustainable crops and into sustainable wild-crafting as a way of supporting environmental sustainability and biodiversity.
All these factors together mean that the possibilities for reclaiming our herbal heritage and building on it are potentially infinite…….
Veriditas Hibernica aims to spread information and skills about:
- The diversity of species that grow here and their habitats.
- The many uses of the plant species that grow here.
- Sustainable cultivation, harvesting and wild-crafting.
- Traditional and novel processing methods.
- Preserving and expanding ecosystems.
- Maintaining and increasing biodiversity.
- Restoring and reclaiming our herbal heritage.
As our work develops, we hope to help the development of sustainable businesses producing value-added products from sustainably gathered and cultivated plants, as well as helping farmers to develop business cultivating these non-food crops (also known as non-timber forest products or MAP (medicinal and aromatic plant) crops). By diversifying into these crops farmers can increase their income, ensure that they maintain habitats such as hedgerows, wetlands, field margins, indigenous forest and woodland on their land since these habitats are rich in indigenous plants of medicinal and nutritional value when managed well. The development of such businesses has been shown to slow or even reverse rural depopulation in many regions of the world, breathing life back into rural communities and increasing the economic sustainability of these regions, as well as supporting ecological and social sustainability.
- Check out the Articles on this website to discover more about our herbal heritage.
- Explore the workshops and events section for news about events related to herbal heritage that we have planned.
- Investigate the links and resources section to find out about other organizations that are running relevant workshops.
- The links and resources section also has a list of useful books and magazines and lists of suppliers of equipment, seeds etc.
We are in the process of developing information packs for various groups:
- Information packs for use in primary schools (Hands on Herbs).
- Information packs for transition year students.
- Information and exhibition packs for use at events.
- Resource packs with information about where to access equipment, seeds, raw materials etc.