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You are here: Croan Cottage Blog » Courses » Blog article: A review of John Wright’s Foraging course, August 2016

A review of John Wright’s Foraging course, August 2016

The weather could not have been better as Croan Cottages welcomed John Wright, River Cottage UK’s foraging expert, and a group of interested students to join in a Walk on the Wild Side in the beautiful South Kilkenny countryside.

Renowned for his expertise in wild edible plants, John, along with host Francis Nesbitt, led a two day foraging course. Participants stayed at Croan Cottages and spent their days learning how to find, identify and prepare a wide range of wild foods, from flowers to fungi, berries, roots and leaves.

Fast becoming the Irish outpost of River Cottage, Croan Cottages are working closely with the River Cottage team to provide residential courses for those interested in the ethical production and preparation of food.

At their Croan Cottages smallholding, owners Francis Nesbitt & Niamh McCole, share the River Cottage ethos and approach to living and eating sustainably. ‘Since we established Croan 13 years ago, we’ve been progressively becoming more and more self sufficient, with our gardens, orchards, paddocks and beehives providing much of what we, and our guests, eat each year,’ says Francis. ‘It seemed a natural fit when we joined forces with the stars of River Cottage to promote the ideals we share and in turn to share them with those who’d like to learn more about growing, foraging for, and cooking their own produce.’

The recent foraging course saw the hunt begin in the beautiful Castle Morres woods. There the group learned about the local flora and fauna, discovering the wild bounty of this abundant habitat before returning for a foragers’ feast at Croan House. On the second day, a trip to Dysart Woods on the banks of the River Nore provided a change in habitat and in the range of species to be found. The fields and hedgerows of Croan House provided some of the more interesting finds on the final afternoon.

It was John Wright’s first visit to Kilkenny and he seemed very pleased with the rich bounty available here for the forager. “Having never been to this part of Ireland, I was curious to see what would be available to us on our forays. I was very pleased to see that there are so many edible wild-foods available in the rich countryside of South Kilkenny. You really are spoiled with exceptional natural beauty and bounty in this part of the World.”

John was so impressed with what Kilkenny had to offer, it seems, that he’ll be back. “My friends from River Cottage had told me that I would enjoy the course at Croan House and indeed they were right. The locations which Francis selected were excellent and the group of Foragers were great fun. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.”

According to John the course took on a different tone to the one he’s used to at River Cottage. “The residential element of this course provided an opportunity to spend more time with participants. Over dinner each evening I was delighted to enjoy some of that famous craic, for which the Irish are justifiably known.”


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