Poker Run and Bike Ride to Support the KLT

Run or ride to pick up cards and play your best hand at Kingston’s Night Market to win prizes! Tickets available at www.kingstonlandtrust.org/2015ride.

KLT_PokerRunPoster_FINALKingston, NY – Looking for an excuse to get out your bike or go for a run this Friday? We’ve got you covered with the Kingston Land Trust’s first Poker Run and Bike Ride, starting at 6:00 PM at Dietz Stadium and concluding at Kingston’s Night Market on lower Broadway. Along the way, ticket holders will pick up cards from special stops including Keegan Ales, Boices Dairy, and the future trailhead for the Kingston Point Rail Trail. A bonus stop at Duffy’s on Delaware Avenue provides a chance to change your luck by drawing an extra card!

At 8:30pm, ticket holders will gather at the Kingston Land Trust’s table at Kingston’s Night Market on lower Broadway to play their best hand. Using all the cards they’ve collected, players will assemble a hand and compete for prizes!

Prizes include gift-bags from Kingston Wine Co.; copies of “Cycling the Hudson Valley,” a comprehensive guide for bicyclists and hikers published by Parks & Trails NY; and a special keepsake from the site of the future Kingston Point Rail Trail!

Purchase your tickets online at www.kingstonlandtrust.org/2015ride, or arrive early at the Dietz Stadium to purchase them at the door. A guided group ride to each of the card locations will leave the stadium at 6:30pm.

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About the Kingston Land Trust and the Rail Trail Committee – The Kingston Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the protection and preservation of open space, historic sites, wetlands, scenic areas, and forests in the City of Kingston and the surrounding region to include the Town of Ulster and the Town of Kingston. The Rail Trail Committee is dedicated to planning, development, utilization, and proper maintenance of rail trails and other non-motorized linkages in the City of Kingston. More information is available at KingstonLandTrust.org.

About the Kingston Greenline – The Kingston Greenline is a partnership of the Kingston Land Trust and the City of Kingston to develop a city-wide system of trails, bikeways, promenades, paths and complete streets. The Kingston Greenline will provide residents and visitors with healthy, active, non-motorized ways to connect to the City’s vibrant commercial, cultural, historical and recreational assets. The Greenline will also weave together a growing regional trail network, providing an amenity-rich urban trail hub that promotes active transportation and tourism. More information is available at KingstonGreenline.org and facebook.com/kingstonrailtrails.

An Edible Landscape

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Notes from a Foraging Lesson

Spend just two hours observing the plant systems that surround us- experience in-depth plant identification, smell, touch, imagine, taste- and you will begin to see the entire world in a new way. You may notice a “basal rosette” interrupting a ruddy lawn, begin connecting scent with edibility and feel significantly more attuned to and part of the natural environment. Such connection to one’s natural environment is often taken for granted, but in the same way that a painter working on a house, sanding and touching up trim, begins to notice the detail and imperfections in other structures, a forager begins to see the patterns and variations of flora in their environment.

Part of it is learning the facts, like how black raspberries, “tiproot,” meaning the, “canes,” or stalks bend down to re-root in the earth thereby creating a new incarnation of the plant. And that the canes live for only two years, the first to establish itself as an adolescent and the second to create fruit before dying back in the third year, making way for the newly matured canes to fruit and continue the cycle.

The other part is just actually spending one on one time with your materials, in this case, vegetation. This means observation over time, touch, attuning oneself to the subtle differences in species that make one edible and one toxic, knowing when in the plant’s life cycle it should be harvested or how different stages and plant parts can yield different tastes and types of food. Only through time does one recognize patterns within a species, a similar leaf shape for example can inform us that Ox Eye Daisy (found in most yards this time of year) is related to the common Chrysanthemum and what medicinal use could come of that. Leaf structure, flower shape, seeding ritual-it all plays a role in plant identification and use and because the nature of life in general is impermanent and subject to irregularities, mutation and adaptation; it is a never-ending puzzle.

Thus, foraging becomes a symbol of life in general, and a fertile one at that, for it actually results in food and nourishment and connects the individual to ancient human knowledge that has been almost bred out of existence. But it is there, and there are people who have inherited that knowledge and wisdom and can share it with others.

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A recent foraging walk in Accord, NY led by Dina Falconi.

On a recent walk with local foraging guru and author, Dina Falconi, I joined several other women (with some babies in tow) for a two-hour outdoor wild edibles course in Accord, NY. Dina has been studying the local flora of the Hudson Valley for 30 years and her expertise and style of educating is unparalleled. She urged us to get close to the plants and engage all of our senses when taking notes. She also warned against jumping to conclusions when identifying something and suggested observing a plant’s life cycle and growing patterns over several months, returning to certain locations over time when necessary to confirm edibility before harvesting. Some areas should be avoided altogether, for example, along major roads and the foundations of buildings.

We can learn a lot from foraging-patience, sensitivity, resourcefulness-to name a few. The most astonishing aspect of eating wild plants is how over time you can begin to link certain plants, especially the native ones, to seasonal medicinal use. Just as local honey can cure local allergies, certain plants offer particular health benefits especially at the time at which they come into season.

For more information, visit Dina Falconi’s website, www.botanicalartspress.com, where you can email her with questions, view information from her amazingly illustrated book, find recipes featuring local wild edibles and request to schedule a class or walk. When it comes to something like foraging it is really helpful to learn about what is growing and going on in the Hudson Valley (in our own backyards!), from someone who lives here. Right now, for example, we could be preparing to harvest the abundant wild grape leaves that grow and climb all over the area and are just reaching their tender peak.

Join us Wednesday, July 29th 2015 for an evening at Kingston Wine Co. with Dina Falconi and the Kingston Land Trust! Copies of Dina’s book, Foraging and Feasting will be available along with samples of some wildly-infused cocktails. Come with your foraging questions!

The Mental Health Benefits of Increased Physical Activity

When thinking about the health benefits of increased regular physical activity that occurs when parks and trails are more accessible to the public, we tend to think of the physical health benefits: improved cardiovascular health, weight-loss, and the attendant reductions in chronic diseases. Taking a further look at the less visible spectrum of benefits, we can see a strong correlation between physical activity and increased mental well being .

Physical activity causes the natural release of endorphins throughout the body. One of the most positive effects resulting in the release of endorphins is the diminished perception of pain (with endorphins acting as analgesics). Endorphins trigger a positive feeling throughout the body including higher self esteem which many have come to know as the “runner’s high.” This is the instantaneous mental health benefit that occurs as a result of physical activity. Further , there is a body of literature that supports the connection between the treatment of anxiety and depression and outdoor physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, moderate aerobic or mixed aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise can have significant mental health benefits, including improved mental acuity, better sleep and avoidance of depression. A recent study published in Nursing: Research and Reviews found that across the board, physical activity, even in the lightest forms, can generate mental health benefits. Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is yet further evidence that even a short period of outdoor exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental well-being. In a transatlantic partnership researchers from the University of Michigan and Edge Hill University in England found a correlation between more group nature walks and  “significantly lower depression.”

Physical activity can even be used as a preventive guard against depression. Citing two prior studies, the authors of the Nursing: Research and Reviews article on physical activity and mental health explain that, “physical activity undertaken during childhood is associated with a reduced likelihood of the development of depression during the adult years.” Another benefit toward helping in the treatment of depression comes from the social support that occurs through joining in exercise with friend and family. Engaging in physical activity with a group can help those suffering from depression by allowing them to you feel a sense of emotional comfort.

In the fight against the Alzheimer’s and dementia, there have been positive findings about the role that physical activity can play with regard to prevention of the diseases. According to a 2013 article from the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, even modest engagement in physical activity can be “neuroprotective against cognitive decline in later life.” Further, physical activity can help lower the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in later life with risk reductions of up to 50%.9. The New York Times published findings from Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience that in people with an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, exercise may help in keeping mental faculties  “robust,” helping to slow the progression of the disease. In the brains of physically active subjects, exercise appears to have reduced the deterioration of brain size and lowered signs of the harmful atrophy that occurs in the hippocampus as a result of the progression of the disease.

With such a body of research that positively supports the benefits that regular physical activity can have for mental health, there is a compelling case to be made for the development of urban trails and recreation facilities. As the journal Landscape and Urban Planning notes, “even in a city setting, the benefits of using green spaces are attainable with the use of urban rail trails.”  In a city setting such as the City of Kingston, the Kingston Greenline provides a great opportunity for city residents to engage in physical activity, and thus promotes the development and maintenance of both physical and mental well being.