Organised Trip to Pick Oregano on Ainos and information on how to pick and dry Oregano

PRESS RELEASE

 The Ainos National Forest Management Authority, in collaboration with the Hunting Association of Argostoli, announces the organizing of the annual information tour for the aromatic and edible plant of oregano on Sunday, July 14, 2019, at 7:30 am.

The purpose of the tour is to inform and sensitise the citizens and visitors of the National Park about the aromatic plant of the oregano, whose careful collection helps to achieve its sustainable preservation in the area.

The meeting point for the oregano excursion is the courtyard of the gym “Antonis Tritsis”. The Ainos National Forest Management Agency and the Hunting Club will ensure the movement of only a few people, but the participation is unlimited by means of movement itself.

The program of the excursion includes informing the participants about the properties of the plant, its proper method of collection and its drying process. For the oregano collection we will go to “Fagias” area , outside the boundaries of the core of the Ainos National Park. Participants will need to bring scissors or a small punch and a paper or paper bags. At the end of the collection, “Riganda” will be offered by the Managing Authority in the courtyard of the church of Zoodochos Pigi in Arginia.

The oregano collection, which takes place in July, is an old, local habit of the inhabitants of Kefalonia. However, cases of unorthodox and incompatible with the protection of the plant are sometimes recorded, as well as incidents of illegal collection from areas within the core of the Ainos National Park.

The Ainos National Forest Management Authority informs that the collection of the plant, as well as any other species within the core of the National Park, is strictly forbidden. The Agency’s Surveillance / Custody staff records and complains of such incidents to local authorities, and offenders are faced with the relevant sanctions. For the rest of Kefalonia, the oregano collection is permissible, but it must always be done in a conservative way (DO NOT KILL THE PLANTS!).

For more details and a registration form are requested until Paraskefi, 12 Iouliou 2019 , contact the National Park Management Body Enos (Excursion Manager: Mr. Moschopoulou Sofia, Tel .: 26710-29258 and E- mail foreasainou @ ath.forthnet.gr ).

With regard to the collection and subsequent processing and preservation of oregano, we should know the following:

Collection

The oregano is harvested, depending on the area, during July-August, that is, during the flowering period. The parts of the plant harvested are the shoots, which carry the leaves and the flowers. They are cut at a distance of about 10 cm above the ground. This avoids the eradication of the plant, while new shoots will emerge from the base buds next year. That’s why we always buy and use scissors. In addition, we ensure that all flowering shoots of each plant are not removed, but that at least 2-3 shoots are kept on each plant. The seeds that will result from them will ensure that the plant is multiplied. If during harvesting the plants are grubbed up, then they are not regenerated and the oregano can be directly threatened with extinction from the area.

We collect small quantities, sufficient for personal use only. The collection of large quantities, e.g. for commercial exploitation, requires a special permit from the appropriate Forest Service or other competent Services.

Oregano shoots should not be picked up by liquids or in high humidity conditions. After cutting, they should be placed in tissue bags, baskets or cartons to allow the material to be breathed to prevent it from becoming brown or damaged.

No shoots should be harvested, which have impurities or foreign bodies and shoots with undesirable leaf color or smell. Raw leaves (yellow or brown) should be discarded, as well as discolored, as a result of injury or infection by disease or insects.

Drying

Drying of the oregano should be done with caution. Using inappropriate methods to remove the moisture of the shoots results in a change in their aroma and colour, which in a short time turns into brown or even black. In order to maintain the green colour and the rich aroma of the plant, the stems collected should be dried either by spraying them thinly on newspaper or cotton cloths in a well-ventilated room and inverting them from time to time or by grouping them into small buns , which we tie and hang in a cool and well-ventilated interior. In these ways, stable and uniform air circulation is achieved. Their direct exposure to sunlight is not recommended,

After the stems are completely dried, they are crushed into small pieces or rubbed until the leaves and flowers are separated from the small stalks, collecting them in glass jars and placing them in a shady place where they can be kept intact for a long time and a few years.

Dangers

The collection of oregano shoots is beneficial to a degree for the plant. Cropping and harvesting only part of its shoots increases the life of the plant and contributes to the development of lateral shoots.

Despite its abundance as a naturally occurring plant in all regions of Greece and the fact that part of its needs are covered by the increase in its cultivation, the needs for oregano and castane oil have been increasing in recent years, resulting in over-harvesting of the plant .

Over-collection, that is, the collection of larger quantities than those that a region can endure, as well as the eradication of plants, are practices that threaten the extinction of the valuable oregano population. In many cases, the problems of over-collection in a region arise after the opening of new roads. Already there are testimonies of areas where it has now disappeared, and previously it has been abundant.

Cultivation of oregano can face its growing demand in the future. Cases of organized crops are currently found in several areas of Greece.

 The Chairman of the Board of Directors of

Agency for the Management of the Ainos National Park

Dr. Georgios Drakatos

Research Director

Of the National Observatory of Athens

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