photo: Ulla Keituri
In Finland, foraging for wild berries is considered a relaxing past time and a great way to get some physical exercise. Summer and autumn are the perfect time for heading out into the forest and enjoying the art of collecting wild food. Nordic berries are real superfoods with numerous health benefits.
In the Jyväskylä region, you are most likely to come across blueberries, lingonberries and raspberries. The blueberry and raspberry season usually starts in late July or early August, while lingonberries ripen in time for August and September.
You are most likely to find blueberries in mixed and coniferous forests with plenty of shade. Raspberries, on the other hand, prefer cleared and felled areas and also grow alongside ditches and the edges of forests. Lingonberry tends to grow bountiful crops and prefers dry conditions. It thrives in well-lit boreal forests.
As Jyväskylä is surrounded by forests, there are plenty of easily accessible spots that are perfect for foraging. In fact, you’ll probably discover a wild blueberry patch on your morning run or evening stroll if you just add a quick detour and head slightly deeper into the forest. However, to maximise your chance of discovering rich pickings, you’ll need to head further out of town. When you’re out foraging, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not a good idea to pick berries close to roads, on routes used by dog walkers or any industrial areas.
Our top tips for accessible spots include the woods and winding trails at Halssila, where you have a good chance of coming across all the most common berries, while the Kanavuori nature trail is perfect for picking blueberries and catching some great views.
When you’re heading out for a forage, don’t forget to bring a container, wellies, insect repellent and always dress appropriately for the weather. You might also want to bring a snack so you can stay out that little bit longer. Maps, compasses and GPSs are great if you’re heading deeper into the forest, but do bear in mind that you will need to be a confident navigator if you plan to veer off the beaten track. Picking berries by hand is slower, but the clean up operation you’ll need to undertake on your return to remove any forest debris will be much quicker. If you’re using a picker, it’s a good idea to grab and gently turn the plants to give you better access to the berries. Be careful not to damage the plants to make sure that when you return next year you’ll have more berries waiting for you.
In Finland, nature is for all, and the Finnish jokamiehenoikeus or freedom to roam means that everyone has the right to forage for berries. However, do bear in mind that you’re not allowed to enter private gardens and keep an eye out for any restricted areas. You’re also not permitted to forage for berries inside nature reserves.
In Finland, the freedom to roam allows you to:
The freedom to roam does not allow you to:
Photography enthusiast Ulla Keituri tries to find a balance between her day job at the office and hiking and taking nature photos. The beautiful and varied landscape in the Jyväskylä region ensures that Ulla doesn’t need to go far from home to shoot a good photo. Skiing at night on lake Tuomiojärvi under the northern lights or rowing on lake Jyväsjärvi at sunset sets up a mood that is hard to imagine in a city.
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