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3 tips to get ready for berry picking in the Forest

Summer is the perfect time to connect with nature. Forest bathing, or Shinrin Yoku, is a Japanese practice that can help with mental health issues. In Finland, people can freely walk in forests and pick wild foods like mushrooms and berries. Spending time in nature is essential for self-care and overall well-being.

This article aims to provide tips on becoming familiar with the forest and its abundant wild food. By doing so, you can reap the benefits of relaxing in nature for your mental health and overall well-being and enjoy the delicious wild foods available.

Getting familiar with places of berry picking

Living in Finland requires getting to know its nature well to enjoy and have fun as much as possible. If you have not been yet in the forest, you can start to get familiar with it, and with a positive mindset, you can like it and see the forest as a part of a joyful life. One way of getting familiar with the forest is to go on walks with friends and family, especially with Finns, for the first time since they know of various forest paths and the safety and basic rules and regulations of being in the forest. One can have fun taking some delicious snacks and drinks to carry and then go to find the places where the berries grow well, and also easy to access for you either by walking or to reach by car or bike, which is a wonderful idea.

Once you know about good places for berry picking, you can start thinking about the next steps you need to take with you. But first, it is important to go to a place where you feel safe and familiar, close to the main roads and also close enough to the houses where people live and not in the middle of the deep forest where hardly anyone can reach or might get lost for the first time. It is also a good idea to go as a group for the first time, especially with Finnish friends or people who have already been picking berries in the forest and have enough experience.

How to dress up in the forest

During summertime in Finland, the forest can become hot and attract mosquitoes. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers is recommended to protect yourself from pesky insects. Some people even wear hats with nets to avoid getting bitten while picking berries. It's important to note that the forest may also contain ticks, mites, ants, and other insects that can cause discomfort or allergies. Wearing long clothing and elastic bands around the trousers can help prevent insects from crawling up the body.

In addition, when you return home, you can quickly remove clothes and watch yourself well and check if there is any insect on the skin and remove it, or go under the shower and wash all possible insects away.

It is also appropriate to check the weather beforehand and look at the weather forecast; if it happens to be windy or rainy later, have a windproof and waterproof jacket and extra clothes to carry with you.

A pair of good rubber boots are also necessary to always wear in the forest because of being able to walk well on the surface ground of the forest and also because of the protection from insects and bugs. Often forests are close to the lake if you have already checked the place where to go. The weather is nice and warm, and it is a good idea to carry a swimming suit and a towel with you so that you can enjoy jumping in the water, cool down and enjoy swimming and the beauty of the lake and forest.

What to carry to the forest

Suppose it is very humid weather, which often can be in Finnish summer. In that case, you need to carry a big bottle of water with you, some fresh fruit/veggies as a snack which contains lots of water, such as melons, watermelons, cucumbers, or tomatoes. These are very tasty to eat alone and, at the same time, give you much natural liquid to satisfy your thirst and hunger if you need to eat something as a snack. Prepare your fruit cut in pieces in a container and put in your bag pack or take a whole melon with a knife and fork and enjoy it directly cut in the forest. Make sure to have a plastic bag and keep the rubbish in it until you reach home to keep nature clean and not throw bottles, plastic wraps, etc., in the environment.

And, of course, to have the containers with a lid that closes well to put the berries picked in it well sealed when you go around the forest and pick more berries, they stay closed and not kicked by accident and lost berries all around the forest.

Please remember that picking berries for the first time might be slow. However, it does not matter because staying in the forest, breathing the clean air, and having contact with nature is healthy enough and joyful, and it makes you familiar with the forest and starts liking it. And the amount of berries you pick by hand is precious enough to give you many joyful moments because of the rest of the excursion with kids, family, and friends, having fun, swimming, eating outside, getting sunshine, etc.

Once you get familiar with the forest trips and picking berries, you can get faster in picking berries if you enjoy it, or you can join the organized groups which go to the forest specifically to pick the berries or mushrooms.

In the next article, you can read about how to store berries or freeze them for winter and how to enjoy them.

Every tree, every growing thing as it grows,
says this truth, "You harvest what you sow."
With life as short as a half-taken breath,
do not plant anything but love.
-- Rumi-


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