Gift from the Forest: Recreation and Health in Deciduous Forests of Greece

Recreation in Greece seems to have slightly changed since COVID-19. Overcrowded malls, coffees, and other places where people meet seems to have been partially replaced by parks, nature reserves, forests, and other natural spaces. People are trying to find solutions for entertainment, in a safe way. Well, a good habit has developed from the misfortune of COVID-19. As temperatures go lower, spending your Saturday with friends and family in a nearby forest of the city of Thessaloniki seems a good opportunity before the deeper cold of November.

This is the ideal season for the Xortiatis and Holomondas mountains, both near Thessaloniki. The leaves of oak trees, chestnuts, walnuts, platanos, and other deciduous trees, are starting to change their color, from deep green, to yellow, orange, red, and finally brown, the final sign of a sleeping forest. The magic picture of different colors (plants are not changing their colors simultaneously) is like a painter trying to mix all her colors. But before the ‘beauty sleep’ begins, the forest gives the summer seeds to the soil. A variety of nuts and fruits are falling to the ground to feed the forest animals in the deep winter.

Pathways in both mountains are a lovely ‘way out’ and you return home ‘with gifts of the forest.’ Delicious fresh chestnuts are one of the favorite delicacies of the forest. Chestnuts have a lot of calories, but eating a few for some days can be great for your system. All parts of the chestnut tree are useful. Chestnut fruits are rich in vitamin C and have plenty of other vitamins like B6 and A in a good amount. Also, they provide us with iron, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. They can boost you with energy, like ‘energy bars’ because of the carbohydrates and protein. Just boil the chestnuts and enjoy! Also, you can collect the leaves of the trees. Use them as a tea for dry cough or fever, to boost digestion and raise your power. The tea is rich in tannins so it may be too bitter for you. Try it with a spoon of flower honey. According to folk medicine, boiled leaves applied direct to the skin seem to help with hemorrhoids.

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication


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