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14 August 2015

A group of mothers and small children from a city came on a Seaweed wild food walk. Some of the children had never been to the shore before.

So they carried on as though they were in the city and they screamed and tugged and tantrumed their way over the sand. And the mothers shouted and tugged and scolded even more loudly after them.

And so I gave up the idea of giving out any meaningful information about which seaweeds were good to eat. Instead I just watched for the moment when Nature would rein everyone in and absorb them into wonder.

The moment came when one of the girls said she had seen a fish in a rock pool. Suddenly, as if by magic, all the children instinctively gathered on the edge of the pool and peered in, looking for something that could be a fish. Suddenly they were all quiet, they were all in the same stance and they were all in the same mind.

This little fish, no bigger than a matchstick, had gathered in the children and the mothers and united them.

And when it flicked it's tail, everyone made the most beautiful sound of "Oooh!" and the music of it poured out over the water and fell into it and I think the little fish must have heard it and felt it; an overwhelming expression of awe and wonder in it's being.

From there on in the children behaved very differently: they wanted to hold each others hands now, they wanted to help each other and so they tackled a great rocky embankment like the mighty and wondrous tribe they are.

Thank you dear little fish, you changed their lives forever.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

7 July 2015

From February 2016 I will be running a course to teach people how to be wild food teachers. It will be residential, over 10 week-ends, roughly one a month, from February to November here in Devon. There may be an option to have a distance learning element to it. The cost will be in the region of £1,700 though I need to finalize that. There may be payment options to help with spreading the cost. If you are interested in joining the list for the 15 places offered, please email me on wildfoodwalks@btinternet.com or use the CONTACT FORM.

6 June 2015

 

Watching a storm one evening last week, I noticed how the wind was moving the trees very differently depending on their kind: the Oaks were swaying their

branches over their heads; the Horse Chestnuts were swinging them round their middles; and the Pines were heaving their shoulders up and down.

 

The wind, as invisible and as powerful as music, was dancing the trees, relaxing them in the way they liked best and ridding them of their stiff limbs.

 

No longer a storm to me now, but a party for the trees.

 

And it went on until dawn.

 

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

4 May 2015

I was invited up to Birmingham last week to give a workshop about wild food. But when the taxi drove me into an abandoned industrial estate, I began to get a little nervous. Suddenly from behind a derelict facade, I found my hosts in a beautiful vegetable garden that had been created amongst the rubble.

A quick scan of the place and I realised that growing strongly from every crevice and scrap of earth it could find, was an abundance of wild food.

I chose 6 or 7 varieties and laid them on a matt by the fire for those who had gathered. I handed round little pieces for them to taste and they were amazed by the delicious flavours.

Then one man said "Where did you get these? You never got them from Birmingham." and so I took them on a little tour of what was growing powerfully all around them.

They loved it and the fire was lit.

As I sat on the train home, it dawned on me what had just happened: my fee had been paid for by Birmingham University and so a university had just paid for people to learn how to live on the wild food growing from the ruins of industry.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

26 April 2015

I have designed a set of 3 wild food identification posters, A3 sized, which show my illustrations of wild foods and posions of Spring, Summer and Autumn/Winter.

They have been very popular on The Hunter-Gatherer Way Facebook page so I've ordered another print-run to offer them from here.

They are £10 for the set of 3 plus £3.80 p&p.

This is an example of the Spring poster, it doesn't have the names on here but they are on the posters that you receive:

 

Spring_Identification_Wall_Chart 

 

You can order a set by clicking on this Paypal link or copying it and pasting it into your browser: 

 

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=YTNGS755U4N88

 

 

4 April 2015

 

It's not easy to get a group of people to understand the hunter-gatherer way when they are sitting down indoors listening to an evening talk.

 

If they were outside, Nature would seep into them and do the work for me but with four walls around them they become as separated from Nature as it's possible to be. And, from what I hear in the intellectual questions and statements that often follow a talk, separated from half of their brain too.

 

So, when asked to give a talk recently, I decided to DO something about it. Life is too short for me to be putting up with things I don't like (I am getting older and so have earned this right). Time to apply "the spirit of exploration" and find a way through this, a way to make everyone feel as though they are outside when they are not.

 

So, this is what I did:

 

I asked if I could do the talk by candlelight and when that was okayed, I asked for the chairs to be arranged in a circle. Then I put the candles in the middle of the circle, lit them and turned out the light.

 

The effect was amazing, as though we were sitting around a campfire and it tricked our brains into thinking we were outside.

 

The feeling was pure magic. With not an intellect in sight.

 

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

If you'd like to experience this for your group, please contact me.

 

29 March 2015

 

Apologies for the hassel of navigating a new site, the web hosting company has made everyone change everything over to a new system which has taken several days. I hope the silver lining is that it's easier for visitors to use. Thank you for your patience.

 

 

29 March 2015

 

Someone recently expressed their concern that if we were all gathering wild food there would be none left.

In fact, the opposite is true: if we were all gathering wild food, there would be twice as much.

To understand how this is true, take a moment to notice how you actually behave while gathering:

In Spring as we look for edible wild leaves we are naturally attracted to the thickest patch of a plant's growth. Why would that be?

Obviously if we take from the thinnest patch we'll destroy the plant but the logic that has been forgotten is that when we take from the thickest part we're helping the plant by thinning it out. These prunings of ours encourage new growth which strengthens the plant. And, in turn, makes sure there's more wild food tomorrow.

Now think what happens when you get to a heavily laden wild strawberry patch - do you take ALL the strawberries? No. What actually happens is that you feast on all the ones you really like but, long before you've picked every last one, you get bored of that patch and move on to the next one.

We have this in-built boredom mechanism so that everyone else has enough to eat too.

But, there are times when even the most socially conscious have given in to temptation and taken every last mushroom.

So, where is the in-built mechanism that makes sure we don't take every last mushroom on Earth and so destroy the mycelium which makes life possible?

Think.......what actually happens when you have been selfish?

Deep down, past the layers of justification, we feel guilty.

And, what does guilt do to us?

It BLINDS us.

And when blinded we can no longer see all the other mushrooms that are around us.

We are designed to do the right thing, our very nature makes sure of it.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

 

21 March 2015

 

In these silent wild food walks, our messages are transmitted and understood in what feels like a substance in the air; it feels like we are surrounded and bound by the richest of sweet honeyed somethings.....

It has reminded me of what a Hopi Indian woman once told me as we washed our clothes in a launderette on the banks of the Rio Grande.

She said that many of the oldest Hopi stories begin with the line:

"Long, long ago, when people and animals spoke the same language...."

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

 

18 March 2015

 

People share a lot of love after a wild food walk.

Maybe it’s because wild food is the key to everything: ultimate health which cannot be found by eating anything else; absolute freedom, once you can feed yourself from Nature, you will never be a slave again; total and natural equality between the sexes and between people of all backgrounds;  and, the only way to unlock all of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abilities.

Or maybe it's just that it makes sense of our lives, and people really like that.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

25 February 2015

 

Another completely silent wild food walk this morning, punctuated only by the beautiful sound that people make when they suddenly understand.

And bird song.

And nothing more.

We could have gone on like this forever; they did not want it to end. And where other spoken walks I’ve done have saturated a group by the 3/4 point, these people were not saturated at all, not even at the end.

I have never known a walk like it.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

25 February 2015

 

I've taken the plunge and increased my prices so that I can continue to offer these walks. They are still amazing value, teaching you so that you no longer have to buy or grow green vegetables for much of the year for the rest of your life!

 

 

22 February 2015

 

Yesterday I taught a wild food walk in silence. Even I didn't speak a word. It worked so amazingly well that I've decided all the walks will be done like this now.

I've wanted to try this for a long time, to take this final step into the unknown, and today’s group were really keen to have a go.

Within a few moments of using gestures to convey what I wanted to say, I felt transported to the rainforest on a wild food walk with the Pygmy women, when they had taught me like this because we'd had no other way. And I remembered how much we had laughed.

But, this mornings mimes were far from the subtle deftness of the Pygmy women, they began in very exaggerated gestures, for example, I drew a dramatic line across my neck when I wanted to convey that a plant could kill and the others would respond with equally exaggerated expressions to show how afraid they were of it now.

But as the walk went on, I realised that these people weren't deaf or blind and that all I needed to do was to slightly shake my head and they would know this plant was poisonous. And their responses became more subtle too; the simplest response to realising a plant can kill is just a slight nodding of the head.

When they realised a plant was edible, though, they jumped.

I found I couldn't move the group on to see the next plant until I had seen that spark of understanding jump in EVERYONE, until everyone was lit up with it and I realised that when this happened, a warm light seemed to shine over the whole group and then they were very easy to move, as though they were actually hovering above the ground and shining. But, if one person hadn't understood, the group could not easily be moved and I would have had to tug at it.

Some things were more difficult to mime than others - like trying to convey that you must check the underside of each Pennywort leaf because snails like to shelter there when it rains and if it's been a long shower they will stay there for some time and do their droppings which you must check for and brush off before you eat. One man understood straight away and very gallantly stepped in to mime the part the others couldn't quite understand.

At the end, I asked how it had felt to receive this knowledge in gesture and mime. Everyone was unanimous in their love for it.

One man said he had found it instantly grounding; that it had taken him out of his intellect which he said would have wanted to ask masses of questions and offer up anecdotes, and instead had brought him straight into the present moment.

Silence had heightened the senses of smell and touch and taste and perspective and colour and solemnity and delight and joy and wonder.

As we walked back the way we'd come, we were able to speak and I told them the names of each plant and tested them to see how much they had retained. They answered much more quickly than on the walks when I had spoken and I realised this was because they didn't need to sift through all the things I'd said but went straight to their mental picture of it and the thoughts they'd had when they'd stored it there.

By being totally silent we had entered into the dimension of the present moment and instead of finding blank expressions and total misunderstandings there, we had instead found a whole language which we already knew. And, after a bit of brushing up, found that we loved that language.

This language, the 'language of the present moment' does not come from the mind with it’s need to constantly ask questions and broadcast anecdotes.

The language of the present moment comes from when we were naturally silent, when we did not speak because we hadn't yet learned how. All of us know this language because all of us have already spent many months learning it, when we first arrived here.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

15 February 2015

 

I loved all the wonderful comments you offered (on the Facebook page) about whether there is something in Nature that causes the air and the water to be stirred so that these invisible realms can pick up and disappear all manner of things within them.

The wind and the tides, the high pressure to low pressure of the weather patterns, the turning of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon - what are they ACTUALLY DOING? They are all contributing to stirring the great cauldrons of the air and the wild waters so that they gather up the debris of life on Earth and clean it and store it until it is needed again.

Nature's invisible re-cycling system.

Wouldn't it be great if this is how our lessons at school were taught so that we understood what is actually going on around us?

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

15 February 2015

 

On several occaions recently while out for a walk in woods and by the river, I've noticed that a Robin will fly quite close across my path and then land on a branch and look at me.  

These very definate series of gestures to get me to notice them feels like they are asking for my help. 

So, I have taken to pushing over large rocks, kicking over rotten logs, digging in the leaf littered earth with the heel of my boot and then walking on. 

And down will come the Robin in my wake, to pick out the food he likes best. 

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

 

31 January 2015

 

Just found a large quantity of the delicious Scarlet Elf Cup and cooked them in oil and butter. They are such a cheerful sight and make you feel amazing too.

31 January 2015

 

I was thinking about how amazing it is that you can stir a teaspoonful of salt into a glass of water and the salt will completely disappear. How you can look into that glass and see nothing at all and not realize it's actually hiding a whole teaspoonful of salt.

And then I was thinking about how this happens in the air as well, how stuff just vanishes into the air. And how amazing it is that the two invisible substances that are around us - the air and the water - actually contain so many things, they are like other worlds, they are like cupboards.

But the stirring is the key to it, the stirring is the key to making things disappear and I was wondering whether there is something in Nature that does the stirring.

Can you figure out what it is? If so, write it in the comments box on the Facebook page - The Hunter-Gatherer Way by Ffyona Campbell. 

It's so blindingly simple yet I never thought of it before.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

1 January 2015

 

Have you ever wondered where New Year comes from?

Why is it now? Why is it celebrated in the dark?

Why not later, when it starts to get lighter and we’ve had a little bit longer in bed?

I’ve often wondered about this too but it was only yesterday that I suddenly realised where it comes from.


The two winter celebrations of Christmas and New Year are ancient. Of course, as many people will know, when Christianity first forced itself onto the Britain isles (in the bloodiest conversion of any country in Europe because we resisted it so strongly), the Winter Solstice celebration was replaced by Christmas.

But, what was the New Year celebration a replacement of? Or is New Year just a modern construct to get us back into harness more quickly whilst also getting us to make personal promises to enjoy ourselves less and to work even harder?

I think the clue to what New Year once was, is by asking what New Year ACTUALLY is…

New Year might be the time we reflect on our deeds (no bad thing of course), and the time we make personal promises (something many of us love to do) but what New Year ACTUALLY is, is the RESETTING of the CALENDAR: on New Year’s day we start the year again at 1/1.
Then, when we get to 31/12, we start it again at 1/1, and so on. That’s what New Year IS.

So how does this relate to us as hunter-gatherers, before we were forced to separate from Nature? Did we have a celebration to do that too?

Yes. And we were extremely good at it. Because, when we were hunter-gatherers we had noticed that the two big items in the sky – the sun and the moon – are actually indicators as to where things are going to be and when. Which is a calendar.

Over thousands of years we built up our knowledge that if we mark the sun’s extremes of the two Solstice points (and we know when we’ve got to them because the sun rises from the same point for 3 or 4 mornings in a row) and the two Equinox points (when day and night are equal) and then note the FIRST FULL MOON after each one, we will know exactly where everything we like to eat is going to be and WHEN it will be there.

It works because the light of the sun and the light of the moon trigger animals to do certain things at certain times of the year (including us).

For example, the first full moon after the Spring Equinox will trigger the wild geese to lay their eggs.

It works because receptors in their eyes send the information of that light combination to the Pineal gland in their brain which decides which hormone to release into the body to trigger different biological activity. In this case, at the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, the Pineal gland triggers the release of a huge surge of oestrogen which is the hormone which makes the geese lay their eggs.

Eggs, oestrogen, first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Ring any bells?

That’s Easter. Easter is set as the first Sunday after the first FULL MOON after the Spring EQUINOX.

And Easter is the EGG HUNT. The first full moon after the Spring Equinox tells us there will be eggs and so we go looking for them.

So how does this all relate to New Year?

By knowing the time lapse between the Winter Solstice and the first full moon after it we can see into the year ahead and know the time lapse between each of the sun’s extreme points and the full moons that come after them which will trigger the animals to give birth, to migrate, to rut, to mate, to drop their antlers and so on, throughout the whole year.

By marking the first full moon after the Winter Solstice we can see the Natural calendar for the year ahead.

So just as Christmas was once the Winter Solstice celebration, New Year was once the celebration we had on the first FULL MOON after the Winter Solstice.

So, this year, when is New Year really? Next Monday. Which is 15 days after the Solstice. It means that the first full moon after the Spring Equinox will be 14 days later, which means that Spring in 2015 will be neither early nor late (early would be if the full moon was on or close to the Equinox, late would be if it was a maximum of 28 days after it).

But, you know what it really means don't you? If New Year isn’t actually till next Monday, it means we’ve got four more days in bed!

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

If you’ve enjoyed and learned and been enlightened and would love to give something in return, there are two things I would like most of all.

First, that you help SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL to continue to protect threatened tribal people by giving them a donation of whatever you can spare (even if it’s just the price of sending me a thank you card) and you can do this via their Paypal link:www.survivalinternational.org/donate/fundraising

Second, that you begin to pay attention to what happens around you at each full moon after the Solstices and Equinoxes. We need to build up our knowledge again and it will require ALL of us to do it. Please post your observations here during the year.

Thank you.

Wishing each and every one of you a bountiful year of adventures and observations, delights and epiphanies in the wild and Natural world around you.

 

 

23 December 2014

 

If you'd like to learn more about wild food but find it hard to get down to Devon for one of my guided Wild Food Walks, you can buy the set of three identification booklets which I've written and illustrated and which accompany the walks:

 

Spring - Leaves, Flowers & Roots
Summer - Seaweeds & Seashore Plants
Autumn/Winter - Berries, Nuts, Roots & Lichens

 

If you then come on a walk with me, you'll get the price of a booklet off the price of each walk you do.

 

The set of 3 is £10 plus p&p: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=YL7RX4U49RWLE- if this link doesn't work here, you'll find it at the bottom of the BOOKS tab which is up at the top of this page.

 

The photos show you a sample page from each book:

 

      

 

23 December 2014

So, the shortest day and the longest night are upon us. If it's clear, there'll be magic out there under the stars tonight and many living things will die.

A couple of years ago, a friend and I made a fire on the beach, we wrapped ourselves in blankets and we lay down on sheepskins beside it. We lay on our backs and we looked up at the firmament, for hours and hours and hours.

We were aware that the top of the Earth had tipped the furthest away from the sun that it ever goes and so the northern horizon was revealing stars that are only seen there for these few nights of the winter solstice. Like the rock pools and caverns that are glimpsed only twice a year at the two lowest tides (at the Equinoxes), the stars we saw there were the rarest of the sky-diamonds, appearing only at the lowest of the sky-tides. So, we said hello to them.

People often say that when they look up at the stars they feel so small and insignificant. I don't feel like that. I feel that if I can see the light of a star, the light of that star can see me. I have been seen by the light of Mars and Venus and Jupiter and Saturn, by all the lights of Orion’s Belt, by the light of the Andromeda galaxy and by millions of stars I'll never know the names of. And by the light of stars that no longer exist. This makes me feel very special.

All through the night, we felt a powerful sensation raining down on us, a massive kind of energy that felt rich and right and pure and good and we soaked ourselves in it. And we made wishes.

Looking back now, 3 or 4 years later, I can see that every one of those wishes I made that night has come true.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

8 December 2014

I so enjoyed reading your comments about why you look at the moon [from The Hunter-Gatherer Way Facebook page]. It's a love, isn't it? A love that isn't like any other.

I think it's so interesting that you described your feelings as you did because the light of the moon actually helps to regulate our hormones. It triggers a receptor in our eyes which sends a message to the pineal gland to release different hormones at different times of the year.

Our bodies need these hormones so that we have our babies in the Spring, so that we conceive in the summer, so that everything we need will be available to us on our journey from birth, through maturity, to procreation and death.

We're biologically designed to look at the moon. We feel it as love. And love is how Nature gets us to do everything.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

3 November 2014

On a wild food walk recently, I lead a group of adults to a beech tree and showed them how to find the small triangular seed cases which contain the edible beechnut.

Then I suggested they have a go and I watched them for a moment as they quickly became absorbed in their task: eyes super keen, jumping slightly with joy when they found one, peeling it and eating it, then keenly looking for another. Very quickly they'd abandoned all cares and troubles from beyond the tree to be completely focused on finding this treasure.

Clever beech tree.

After a while I’d called out to them that they seemed so happy there, maybe I should just leave them to enjoy themselves rather than look at the rest of the things I was going to show them. A big part of them agreed, I knew they just wanted to stay there, where they were like children again, where they’d found what they were really looking for.

And then I thought of the 34,000 children who had called Childline last year with thoughts of suicide. And I wished those children could just find their way to a beech tree where under the great, protecting arms of it’s mighty branches, all children become free of their fears and worries, free to just scamp about amongst the golden leaves, hunting for triangles of sweet pleasure.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

30 October 2014

I am working for the biggest organism on Earth.

Torn at, stung, scratched, slung into bogs, into cobwebs with massive spiders in, hair pulled out by thorns - what could make anyone want to do this, for hours and hours on end?

Mushroom hunting.

And after I'd found a basket full of the finest mushrooms and had gone home and eaten them, in bliss, in pure, unadulterated (whatever that means) luxurious heavenlyness, three days of violent wind have followed, three days so violent that I've had to stop and wonder: why would this be?

And then I'd realised - the mycelium that has created these mushrooms and has lured me into hunting for them and feasting on them has turned me into a massively dynamic disperser of spores so that it can continue it's work wherever I go.


This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

26 October 2014

A wild food walk is not just a door to Nature, and to freedom, it's also the doorway to magic.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

19 October 2014

Some people measure their wild mushroom haul by it's weight, but I think I've found a better way: I counted them - 134 moments of pure delight in half an afternoon.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

5 October 2014

There's a clever little job we are designed to do in Nature which helps to make sure there's wild food for tomorrow and which most of us aren't even aware of and are most likely not doing at all.

Last Autumn I realised why prunes (dried plums) give us the runs. I'd noticed that wild plums had given a Badger the runs too, right beside the tree. "Why would that be?" I'd wondered.

I'd looked at the tree and saw that it was at the end of a long row of wild plum trees and I'd looked at the lose Badger droppings all full of seeds and I'd suddenly realised why: the wild plum tree likes to grow with other wild plum trees in a long line, no doubt for it's protection. So, it has developed a fruit which gives the eater the runs and makes them drop the seeds not far away from the tree.

I was telling this to some people on one of my wild food walks recently and someone added that Acacia trees have the opposite effect, giving the eater constipation. Which of course would make perfect sense, an Acacia tree does not want another Acacia tree growing right beside it and competing for water and so it ensures that the barer of it's seeds is a long way off before dropping them.

 

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

10 September 2014

Here's a funny thing that happened today after delicious hours spent gathering carrageen moss seaweed. This plant is often covered in what look like electric blue lights when it's submerged in rock pools. The "lights" are the pure oxygen that it has extracted from the water and when you lift the seaweed out of the water, they go out and when you put it back in, they go on again.

But the seaweed I was gathering today had no lights on at all as I didn't want to take it from the rockpools but from the dry, exposed rocks where it has to produce more gel in order to keep from drying out completely; and it was the gel in this seaweed that I wanted. 

After a couple of hours my basket was full so I sat down on the edge of the sea and closed my eyes.  Of course, all I could see behind my eye lids was the carrageen moss scene in hues of red - as often happens when you've been concentrating on one kind of thing and then close your eyes. 

And then I wondered what would happen to this scene if I tilted my head upwards and let the sun shine on my closed eye lids……..

…it was so beautiful, the sunlight turned on all the electric blue lights.

 
20 August 2014
 

Many years ago when my daughter was learning to swim in the river, we discovered a magical way of pushing through that initial barrier of "It's going to be SO cold in there!" in order to get into the water.

First, you ease yourself in up to your waist and wait until you feel relaxed. 

Then if, with one great, big, determined gesture, you push yourself in with your hands out in front of you and at the same time you call out in a clear, steady voice "HELLO THE RIVER!" a few moments later of firm, strong, breast strokes, the river will bring you a fur coat.

 

14 August 2014

 
We've sold out of the paperback edition of On Foot Through Africa but we have hardbacks available while stocks last, at £16.99.
 
14 August 2014
 

During those really hot days, I took to swimming in the river to cool down. But, being a solitary kind of animal, I went later. At dusk. When there was nobody else around.

As I swam in the fading light, I noticed there were thousands of mosquitoes just bobbing up and down on the surface and that my head was actually gathering them.

Just as I was wondering whether this blissful swim was about to turn into a blood bath of mosquito bites on my warm scalp, a bat swooped down and ate some. And then another bat came. And another. And another.

And as I swam down the river through the deepening dusk, a hat of tiny dancing wings with fluttering black leather bows was merrily whirling about my head.

 
13 July 2014
 

On Sunday August 24th, I'll be giving a workshop at the RIVENSTONE FESTIVAL on Dartmoor, demonstrating how to make a skin medicine from locally gathered seaweed.

This recipe came from the women of the west coast of Ireland who also rub it in their hair for added beauty and lusciousness.

As the cauldron is stirred, I'll tell a new story about how, if you piece together all the things that seaweeds do to our bodies, you can see that they have all the necessary alchemy to have changed us into land creatures as we emerged from the sea.

You’ll be given a pot of the medicine, a bag of the seaweed and the recipe to take home with you. All my books, including THE HUNTER-GATHERER WAY, will be available to buy.

 

For tickets and more information about this amazing festival,visit:www.seventhwavemusic.co.uk/rivenstone2014.htm)
 
27 May 2014 

The last of the Spring Wild Food Walks takes place tomorrow (before the Seaweed walks begin) and, as always, I look back on the season and think about how much I have learned.

So much of my coal-face now is about how OTHERS learn.

I used to allow a free flow of questions and contributions on the walks but I came to see that those who ask the most questions and who make the most contributions are often the ones who don't listen to the answers and don't learn anything new. They can also be an annoyance to others and, to my cost, I've found there is no polite way of shutting them up once they've started!

So, I wondered what the Aborigines would do in this situation. I remember hearing that when Aboriginal children are between the ages of 9 and 11 (the age when children ask the most questions and don't listen to the answers), they manage them by not allowing them to speak, at all.

So, I applied this rule to the walks, for adults too, and it worked. And, as always happens when tapping into a right kind of tool, unexpected things started to happen too, magical things.

A natural peace would immediately descend on the group. Why? Because suddenly everyone feels safe. Without speech there are no cleverer ones, no one is worrying about showing how little they know, no one is worrying about having to interact with complete strangers, no one is getting frustrated with the constant interruptions and unable to fix it.

Without speech, people unite. And in that harmony, their minds open. It feels like being in the presence of a great, sweet, open pool that simply fills with wonder.

This is The Hunter-Gatherer Way.

 

 

 

12 May 2014

On my wild food walks, I'm often asked whether I hunt animals as well as gather wild plants. My book is called, after all, The Hunter-Gatherer Way.

My answer always causes a stir, especially from some of the women.

The men though, don't say anything at all. They respond by suddenly appearing much taller, and their shoulders suddenly look much broader and yet more relaxed. Their expressions seem more gentle and they have a calmness about them as if from an inner knowing, without even a hint of ego or arrogance. It's really quite a beautiful transformation to watch. Suddenly (and forgive me for saying this) they look like men.

What had I said to them to ruffle so many feathers and yet make such a transformation take place?

I had said: "No, I don't hunt animals. I consider that to be a man's job."

I came to this conclusion after asking men who had killed animals how they coped with dealing the death blow. All of them used the same word: "just".

They said: "Well, you just.........bop them on the head or wring their neck." That word "just" made me realise something different happens NATURALLY for them in that moment than for women.

I think that men naturally find it easier than we do to disconnect their emotions from their actions and so can "just.....bop them on the head".

Women, on the other hand, naturally need to keep their emotions with them in crisis moments so that we can put ourselves into the beings of those we are caring for to work out what it is they need in order to feel better.

Both ways are needed. Neither can do it all alone. We need each other's special qualities, and, if given half the chance, we are often simply amazed by each other. And so we have equal respect.

I know that for many generations, women have had to fight against the male ego and I'm so grateful they did, it was out of control. But now we are in danger of losing a place for men altogether, requiring that they get in touch with their feminine side all the time, not allowing them to disconnect.

 

I know this post might bring a string of indignant comments about how I can't generalise, but, if you had seen this beautiful transformation yourself, you too would think it's worth taking that risk.

 

04 May 2014 

Some people think there are no wild plants in Britain poisonous enough to kill you.

On one of my Spring Wild Food walks recently, I was told of a young man who had taken a fancy to a thick, bushy plant that looks like wild celery or flat leafed parsley. So, he put a handful into his soup.

And went into a coma.

The hospital didn't expect him to come out of it.

Three days passed and he began to regain consciousness. He would have died if he'd eaten any more of it.

What had he eaten? Hemlock Water Dropwort. It's one of the most poisonous plants on Earth and it grows in abundance in Britain. It has leaves like Hawthorn leaves which grow in branches from a central stem, like a Christmas tree, and it does look a lot like celery.

So, if you feel the call of the wild this Spring and want to go gathering wild food, please be sure of what you're experimenting with.

Man might have been able to kill all the dangerous wild animals on our island, but he couldn't stop the dangerous plants from continuing to pop up behind him. 

 

 

18 April 2014

It's been so rewarding to see the comments people have left on the Facebook page (The Hunter-Gatherer Way) about our first film. Here are some of them:

  • Deborah UprichardLove this!!
  • Bitesize Weight LossJust about to go salad hunter-gathering in the Peak District - beautiful film!
     
  • Kate HarrisGentle, artistic and easy to follow a perfect mix!
     
  • PV ZephyrThank you. I'm sharing this. Very wonderful. I love it.
     
  •  
  • Sharlea Johnson SparrowA beautiful video. I know what our salad will be tomorrow. I so wish I lived closer so I could join your wild walks. Your book has been an inspiration to my teenage sons who had just picked it up in passing to see what I was reading, and then read cover to cover. Thank you for sharing x
     
  • Kelwyn DaviesBeautiful and Informative.
     
  • Claire NichollsLove, love, love this little vignette Ffyona. It's beautiful x
     
  • Danny ReidA superbly edited film enjoyed every minute of it! Please make many more!!!
     
  • Marie BuckleygrayFfyona what a delight the film was to watch, thank you
     
  • Gitta CooperThank you. Love your book too
 

14 April 2014

This time last year I suddenly realised why birds sing the dawn chorus. The sound is SO LOUD, I'd thought, how can they make such a big sound? They must have very big lungs.

Why would little birds need such big lungs?

What are lungs? They're bags of air in the chest. Would having big ones rather than little ones help them to fly? Yes! It would be like having two hot air balloons inside them.

So what would singing do to these balloons? Singing would fill them with WARM AIR, making them even more BUOYANT.

And so, by singing the dawn chorus, the birds are getting their lungs ready for a day of flight. And every time they land on a branch during the day and sing, it's like they're stopping at a petrol station and filling them up again.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

11 April 2014

We're just putting the finishes touches on our first film. It's being made with film maker Steve Wright from LIFE Video Productions and even his first draft looks gorgeous.

It's called "How to Make the Salad that Sings" and it'll be posted on here on the 17th of April - just in time to go out over the Easter week-end and gather it for yourself, a 100% wild salad that raises your metabolism, cleans your whole system and lifts your spirits.

6 April 2014

Looking at seagulls flying just for the sheer bliss of it, I realised this is what they do to relax their muscles and their minds after the tension and concentration of hunting.

Listening to cats purr, I realised it's for the same reason.

And so I wondered what humans do to unwind?

We don't play on the wind, we don't purr......

.....we dance.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

31 March 2014

On a wild food walk recently, one of the participants told me a story about when he was invited to go hunting with some Bushmen in Namibia. As they followed the tracks of the antelope, the Bushmen told him they could tell which of the herd were pregnant and just how pregnant they were. Then he said something even more amazing: they told him the lions can tell this too.

Here in the modern world, in our urgency to make journeys quicker, we have covered the paths in tarmac and forgotten how important it is to gather the news along the way. If only we knew what had happened in the hours preceding us, if only we had been able to see the signs and piece things together and make sense of them, we would feel more comfortable arriving somewhere and there might be fewer misunderstandings between us.

And we wouldn’t look at the paths and in seeing nothing, think we are the only animals left on Earth.

24 March 2014

I love how Snowdrop seeds find their way underground: each one has a little tail on the end that’s edible to ants.

The tail is hook shaped which must be the perfect shape for the ants to get hold of to drag the seed behind them to a nice safe place where it won’t be disturbed. The ant then eats the sweet tail but not the seed (which probably contains a substance which is repulsive to ants). And so the seed has been deposited in the very place it wants to be to germinate and grow. Very clever.

And so, I realised, it is with plants which are edible for humans.

A plant that has a part that's edible for us is giving us something nice to eat in return for us doing a job for it. This relationship is very obvious in the case of fruit where we eat the flesh and distribute the inedible seeds either by dropping them along the way, or by depositing them in a nice richfertilizer pod.

But, what about edible LEAVES? Why, for example, are wild garlic leaves edible to humans?

I realised the answer when I bent down and had a closer look at the plant. Where I had pulled out the leaf, I saw it had come out from a funnel and inside the funnel were lots of tiny leaves trying to grow but blocked by the stem of the bigger leaf. By picking one leaf from each plant, I was making room for more leaves to grow.

So, the more wild food we eat, the MORE wild food there is!

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

Now, here's one for you to work out: what about the plants whose onlyedible part for humans to eat is the ROOT? Like the Arum Lilly whose root is edible to us (if cooked) but whose leaves, flowers and berries are deadly poisonous to us. Why would this be? Any ideas?

Answers on the CONTACT FORM.

16 March 2014

Have you ever noticed how firelight makes older people look young again?

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

13 March 2014

Everyone's been commenting on how well my family and I are looking right now. We're only eating wild food for our greens so I thought I'd have a look at the nutritional composition of edible wild leaves compared to organic lettuce.

 

The results were amazing: wild food has at least double the quanitity of vitamins and minerals than farmed food.

 

THE NUTRITION OF WILD FOOD vs. ORGANIC LETTUCE

 

 

Dock Leaf……12,900 I.U. of Vitamin A

Lettuce……….500 I.U. of Vitamin A

 

Nettle………...1.6mg of iron + 6,500 I.U. Vitamin A to enable absorption

Lettuce……….0.9mg of iron + 500 I.U. Vitamin A to enable absorption

 

Dock Leaf……119mg of Vitamin C

Lettuce……….18mg of Vitamin C

 

Wild Garlic…....6.2g protein

Lettuce……….1.4g protein

 

Dandelion…….187mg calcium

Lettuce………..40mg calcium

 

Wild Garlic……202mg phosphorous

Lettuce………..30mg phosphorous

 

Wild Garlic……0.25mg Thiamine

Lettuce………...0.07mg Thiamine

 

Wild Fennel…....0.15mg Riboflavin

Lettuce………...0.08mg Riboflavin

 

So, come on a Spring Wild Food Walk and learn how to eat only wild greens this Spring.

 

13 March 2014

On my favourite path on Dartmoor, there is a rocky stretch which always slows me down, it threatens to twist my ankle and it makes me tense. I knew I must find a way to love this stretch but it was always too annoying to be any fun. Today, forced to slow down again, I applied myself to trying to find something good in the experience and suddenly noticed a sparkle in the rocks. I realised they're all made of granite and covered in glitter. Walking slowly to catch their enchanting light, I realised I'd found the way and now I can look forward to them every time I walk that path.

12 March 2014

Very exciting news: my book,The Hunter-Gatherer Way, is taking off in America. 

11 March 2014

On the SPRING WILD FOOD WALK last Saturday, I noticed something pretty amazing about what happens to people when they suddenly spot something they’re looking for: they jump.

It’s like they get a shot of electricity running through them. It reminded me of one of those machines that’s clamped onto a person's chest to kick start the heart.

And then I realised that this feeling never goes away, in fact the more you know about wild food, the more often and the more intensely it happens. It’s like being jump started into a higher state of wakefulness every few minutes, all through the day. 

Maybe this is our proper use of electricity. No wonder we feel so dead with out it.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

31 December 2013

Here's my take on why the 25th of December is so important:

As hunter-gatherers we noted both solstices, both equinoxes and the four cross quarter days (which are the half-way points between the two).

After each of these we noted the phases of the moon because the different COMBINATIONS of sunlight and lunar light tell us when things are going to happen.

How does this work? Everything alive on the planet is on a journey of birth, maturity, procreation and death and each of these stages requires hormonal changes. These changes are triggered by the different combinations of solar light and lunar light because the light activates receptors in the eyes which send messages to the pineal gland which releases the right kind of hormones into the blood for the changes needed at that time of year.

To us as hunter-gatherers, knowing what would happen at each combination of lunar and solar light meant that we knew when animals were going to migrate, come in to spawn, lay their eggs, lose antlers, change shells etc. It meant, and still means, that we could look for the right thing, in the right place, at the right time of year, and find it.

For example, if we wanted eggs, we waited for the first full moon after the spring equinox, waited a couple of days more and then went hunting for eggs. We knew they were there then because the combination of maximum lunar light and increasing sunlight to become equal with the absence of light (the spring equinox) is the hormonal trigger for wild geese to lay their eggs. We've kept this knowledge in our Christian calendar as the date for Easter (first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox) and what do we do on Easter day? We go hunting for eggs.

So, what about the 25 of December?

Well, we knew when the solstice was because we saw the sun rise from the same point for four mornings in a row, something it doesn't do at any other time of year except the summer solstice. (Solstice means "sun stands still"). Nowadays we think of the solstice as being on the 21st of December but in fact it’s on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th..............which means that on the morning of the 25th the sun will rise slightly to the left for the first time and is therefore the first indication that it’s now moving back.

As hunter-gatherer's I don't think the 25th was of any interest at all, it doesn't tell you when something is going to happen. The notion that the sun might NOT COME BACK hadn't been invented then.

I think it was only when someone came along and planted this ridiculous seed of doubt in our minds that we became frightened and started watching for a sign that the sun would return. Up until then we’d never even thought about it because it always had, just as one breath has always followed another, it’s only if someone says that our next breath might not come that we'd start to panic about it.

Now that we were worried, the bearer of the news no doubt took it upon himself to offer to make a sacrifice on our behalf to make sure the sun would return.

For this sacrifice he required the best of everything we had - most likely a feast and a virgin.

He then took these things away to the highest hill and then in the morning proclaimed that it had worked as the sun did indeed rise slightly to the left than on the days before and would now be coming back.

And everyone thought he was wonderful, and couldn’t risk doing otherwise or else perhaps it would come true and the world would really be plunged into "everlasting darkness", just as he’d said.

And so we asked him to come back again next year, and the next..

So, ironically, celebrating the 25th of December was NOT, originally, a sign of BELIEVING, but of NOT believing.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.

 

26 December 2014

Here's my answer to:  why are some mushrooms edible and some mushrooms poisonous (with a few glasses of wine in it):

 

Mushrooms are produced by mycelium, the tiny filaments that break down matter and turn it into nutrients so that life can begin again.

 

But when these filaments reach something they can't break down, they send up a mushroom to produce spores to send out on the wind to cross the obstacle so that the mycelium can carry on on the other side.

 

So where does edibility come in?

 

That was the question, really.

 

Why are they edible? Why are they poisonous, SO poisonous that they'd kill you? SO edible that you'd spend the whole day trying to find them in order to eat them?

 

Because........................it isn't just the WIND that distributes spores!!

SPOOR, distributes spores.

We eat the edible mushrooms and their spores remain in tact through our digestive system to come out the other end in perfect condition, in a nice pile of fertiliser and buried in a hole in the earth. Which is exactly where the mycelium of that mushroom want to be.

And so the mushrooms attract us to eat them by being so delicious we would spend days just looking for them.

That's why some mushrooms are edible.

Why then, are some mushrooms poisonous?

Because their spores are by our digestion system and so they are posionous to stop us from eating them.

Why should they care whether we eat a few of them or not?

Because mycelium is the most important organism on Earth, without it life would not continue as we know it.

 

Acres of mycelium might only produce 1 or 2 mushrooms to carry their spores over an obstacle so each mushroom is vitally important. So, if a person came along and just ate one and killed all the spores with their digestion, a huge amount of breaking down of matter wouldn't happen.

So, to make sure people (or any other animal whose digestion would kill the spores) don't eat those ones, the mushroom will kill them.

Mycelium is the most important organism on Earth, that’s why some mushrooms are edible and some are poisonous.



29 November 2013

Between now and mid-winter, the light will grow more and more concentrated every day, as though the night is compressing the light and making it the most intense that it can ever be. It pours out across the landscape like sunlight syrup, the highest quality light of the year and getting higher the less there is. Until at the winter solstice, when the sun "stands still" and rises from the same point for 4 days in a row, the light will be so powerful it will look like liquid gold. This journey to the golden light after the longest nights is the real journey ahead into winter.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.


4 November 2013

Every connection you make with Nature is a door.

1 November 2013

Amazing culinary discovery yesterday: I took some dried wild mushrooms (Ceps, Brown Birch Bolete, Hedgehog Fungus and The Blusher) and reconstituted them but instead of using water, I used the wild fruit stock that I'd made out of Rose Hips, Haws, Guelder Rose, Rowan and Crab Apple then cooked the mushrooms in the stock with roots.

The flavours lifted me so high I felt like I was singing with angels.

This special dish, requiring a lot of preparation, is definitely a celebration meal.

Knowing what to gather is one thing, knowing what to bring together is the door to a whole new world.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.


 

 

29 October 2013

Last night, I made the wild fruit stock by candle-light. I wanted to know what would happen to the colours.

After turning off the electric light, the berries I lifted out and held up to the flame were just boring looking and dulled by the steam of cooking angels that danced up from the pot.

But as I kept stirred gently, a sleepy feeling began to come over me and it must have been a good half an hour later as I was just beginning to think it must be cooked by now, when I realised the colours had changed. They were now so very, very beautiful. And I realised that it wasn't the cooking that had changed them from being dull to being magical but my own eyes.

Our eyes have not evolved to be able to see by electric light, but they have evolved to see by the light of the fire.


22 October

The next talk I'm giving about The Hunter-Gatherer Way is at the Taunton Literary Festival on Friday 15th November at 6pm in Brendon Books.


21 October

We've just moved into a 400 year old cottage. On the night of the full moon, I went up into the attic and found a tiny window made of thick, uneven glass.

I tried to find the moon through the glass but the irregularities kept distorting the light so that I had to sway about to gather the light together to make a whole moon. It looked very small and far away.

Satisfied that I could get it all in focus, I decided to let it go and look into the light on the glass's distorted edges to see what would happen there. I managed to get a huge amount of it together and when I looked into it, and got it in focus, I realised I was looking at the craters on the surface of the moon.

Once I'd recovered from the excitement, I wondered what the moonbeams were doing. It took me a while to locate them because I was actually sitting on them. As I studied them from the side of the attic, I realised the glass had gathered them and shaped them into what looked exactly like a campfire.

The light didn't flicker, it just held it's shape; a silver fire cast silently across the floor of the attic of this ancient cottage and the stillness and magic of it almost made me cry.

To play, to be curious, to follow what's drawing you in, this is the hunter-gatherer way.


9 October

I'm giving a talk about my book The Hunter-Gatherer Way at Totnes Library tonight at 7pm. Copies of all my books will be on sale too. Hope to see you there.


2 October 2013

There is a very simple way of adding wild fruit to Autumnal cooking which requires no sugar or topping and tailing, and which tastes so good it will lift your spirits even on the dullest of days.

The flavours are so rich and so exciting because the wild berries are simply powerhouses of vital nutrients which fortify our blood and thicken it, preparing our bodies for the winter.

As the nights grow longer our Pineal gland causes more of the sleep-making hormone Melatonin to be released into our blood. Many of us suffer feelings of sadness at this time of year but the wild fruit contains the very hormones which are the anti-dote to the side-effects of Melatonin, lifting our spirits and making us feel deeply comforted and content instead.

All you have to do is to take a basket and a friend and go out to the cleanest, wildest places you know and gather a gleaming mixture of wild Rosehips, Rowanberries, Blackberries (until 1 October because apparently that’s when the Devil pees on them), Haws, Sloes and Crab Apples.

It’s impossible to find these wild berries without smiling. Every time you spot them in the hedgerow, your heart will give a sudden jolt of joy and as you gather them into your basket, especially those above your head, and you’ll probably find that you’re laughing.

Picking bright orange berries out of clear blue skies gives your mind a feast of zinging colour that stays with you even when you close your eyes to go to sleep.

These contrasting colours activate the rods and cones at the back of your eyes making it easier for you to spot the berries the next time you go out hunting for them.

There’s no need to top and tail, just wash them by holding the basket under a tap, allowing the water to run through like a colander. A willow basket will love this treatment because it needs the water to remain healthy; then hang it up to dry.

Smash the Rosehips in a pestle and mortar and then put all the berries together in a large saucepan, cover with water to three times the height and slowly bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You'll see some amazing colour changes to the fruit during this process so keep peering through the steam and bubbles as you stir. (You can sing or recite poetry if you like!)

If you have Rosehips in the mixture you MUST use muslin (or a clean drying-up cloth) during the straining process because they contains tiny hairs which can irritate or puncture the stomach. If you don't have any Rosehips in the mix you can just use a normal sieve to strain off the fruit pulp from the liquid.

The resulting clear liquid is what you want: a deep red/purple WILD FRUIT STOCK which contains all the vitamins and minerals and hormones you need.

(Don't worry about the effects of the simmering on the quality and quantity of the nutrients, the M.O.D. ran some tests on Rosehips during the war to see if they would be a good source of Vitamin C instead of oranges. They tested the Vitamin C before and after 6 hours of boiling and found there was virtually no change.)

Use it as the base for soups, casseroles, fruit crumbles, porridge or have it has a hot drink, diluted, with a little honey added. You can also marinade meat with it and it will break down the fibres making even the toughest of venison into the food of the gods.

This nourishing stock will last about a week in the fridge by which time you’ll be longing to go out and gather some more; you now have the perfect excuse. (See what using sugar as a preservative has robbed us of!)

This is the hunter-gatherer way.



23 September 2013

If you start feeling a bit depressed at this time of year, you might be interested in the following idea of what to focus on:

The ratio of equal daylight and darkness at the Autumn Equinox causes special receptors in our eyes to send a message to our Pineal gland. This message: that Winter is on it's way, causes the Pineal gland to start releasing Melatonin into our blood.

Melatonin is the hormone that makes us want to sleep and it will be increased as the nights grow longer. But in the small doses released at the Autumn Equinox, it simply gives us the urge to begin the gathering-in process.

If we heed it's instructions to gather what we need, it will lead us to a winter where our cupboards are full of delicious foods, our warm clothes and boots are in good order, and, if we are lucky enough to have a fire, our storage places are full of good dry wood.

And so we have used Nature's power upon us to our benefit.

By being fully prepared, we can be fully relaxed and so we can fully enjoy the true magnificence of being clever.

This is how all the wild animals are responding to their
shots of Melatonin.

This is The Hunter-Gatherer Way.


21 September 2013

Out alone at the edge of the sea today, the Autumn Equinox's full moon had pulled the tide out as far as it will go this year and had exposed places not glimpsed since the Equinox in Spring.

The seaweed I found around these magical pools was more bountiful than any I'd seen and as I clipped the carrageen moss from rocks simply bulging with it, I realised that it was much like gardening. My pruning would help the plants for next year. And I realised that this must have been the very first garden we tended.

I felt so happy doing it, sun shining, water glinting, pottering carefully in my sea garden.

I'm very glad I wasn't standing in the rock pool because there was a sudden thrash behind me. Something pretty big was in there. And then I saw it: a 2.5 foot dogfish, thrashing at the kelp and launching itself onto the raised ledge of rock that separated it from the sea. It kept having to thrash itself back into the pool again; then swam lazily around.

At one point it came straight towards me, looking at me, then turned and in the swish of it's tail caused the surface to explode in a mass of sunlight shimmers. Clever fish.

I was wondering how it could have become so distracted that it didn't notice the tide going out, it was a mature fish, it had diced with death before, judging the exact moment to leave the teaming shores in case of being stranded. Is this the way that dogfish go? I wondered. Do they just loose the ability to judge the tide and then that's it?

And then I realised what had happened: it didn't know that this would be the lowest tide of the year.

This is the hunter-gatherer way.




20 August 2013

Now that the mushroom season has begun, I am reminded of an incident that happened a couple of years ago when my daughter and I were walking into the woods, each with a  a stick and a basket.

Coming towards us was a young family, the children were skipping joyfully with armfulls of kindling, the mother was carrying a basketful of wild mushrooms, the father was walking slightly behind. After they'd passed, the father called out to us:

"Excuse me, but I wonder if you could varify our finds?"

He didn't know me. He just assumed I knew what I was doing because I had a basket and a stick and so did my daughter.

I was pleased to help and told him to lay out everything he had on the ground and we would go through them.

As he did so, the family told me they'd never been mushrooming before but that morning had met a man who told them they could gather anything with a brown cap, cook them up and they'd be delicious. The children proudly displayed their kindling sticks with which they were going to light their cooking fire.

I looked at the assembled mess of putrifying fungus and explained that ALL mushrooms become poisonous when they are saturated with water and begin to rot. So, 90% of what they'd found had to be rejected straight away. Of the remaining 6, only 3 were edible.

They were shocked, the realisation of what they had been about to do slowly sinking in.

They thanked me and very sweetly offered me the best of them.

I suggested they go on a course to learn the basics but I had a feeling they wouldn't, they seemed to be saying they couldn't be bothered with courses. They wanted to take the easy way and entrust the lives of their family to complete strangers they met in the woods.

If you would ike to come on a Beginners Wild Mushroom course, the dates are listed in the Wild Food Walks section of this site.


19 August 2013

Between teaching Seaweed Wild Food courses last week, I went up to Dartmoor for a barefoot walk
.

After a while, the animal trail I was following led me into a bog. The reeds were so long I couldn't see the best way out so I looked around and noticed a mound about 8 feet high which I could climb for a good view to work out how to proceed.

But, once I got to the foot of the mound, it took me about half an hour to get to the top of it because, after just two footsteps, I realised that the whole thing was absolutely COVERERD in Whortleberries.

I had to stop and try one to see if it was ripe. It was; sweet and perfect. I looked around to make sure I was in no danger if I stayed for a while and, as all was well, I settled myself to picking them. Smiling happily I realised how quickly my fortunes had changed from angst and frustration to Heaven Bliss in just two easy footsteps.

But, after a while I became aware that I was sitting in the wind, so, realising there was an improvement to be had on even this, the most glorious of hillocks, I made my way round the to lea side - out of the wind. When I got there, not only did the wind cease howling in my ears, the sun warm me sweetly and the butterflies dance like marionettes, but the Whortleberries were even BIGGER and even MORE juicy on this side of the hill. 


I sighed a lot, and smiled a lot, and popped them into my mouth a lot, and after a bit I realised that it's not actually possible to completely strip a bush of berries in the wild because there comes a point when you get BORED with that particular patch and have to move on. What a very useful piece of programming we come into the world with. And I thought about the many years I've spent lashing myself to be disciplined and thoroughly finish something when in fact my natural tendencies to move on to the next thing, might well have an important role to play when Nature takes back the world.

As I continued my journey - a small nip across a stream and out of the bog and up the hill along the animal trail again - I passed a man-made hole about 6 feet deep and 10 feet across. It was probably a mine of some sort, the treasures it once held all gone now.

I peeped over the edge and saw that it too was covered with Whortleberries. Carefully assessing the hole to make sure it was just a hole and not a mine-SHAFT, I climbed down into it. The heat in there was like another country - warm and dry and still. The whole thing was so full of plump blue Whortleberries that I realised Nature had transformed Man's greed and turned it into a giant wild-fruit bowl.

Beautiful and perfect. And the more wild food I eat, the more beautiful and perfect it gets.

This is The Hunter-Gatherer Way.