WILD FOOD COURSE
The Hunter-Gatherer Way, Devon UK
This very special course of 10 week-ends takes a group of 12 people on a journey along the forgotten hunter-gatherer migration route which I pieced together over many years of gathering wild food.
I call this migration route The Ring of the Wild Food Year and showing you how it works and the wild foods that grow on it is, I believe, the only way you can eat from Nature’s bounty all year long.
The course is lead by me and teaches you in an atmosphere of comfort and safety how to find and identify edible and poisonous leaves, flowers, roots, seaweeds, seashore and salt estuary plants, coastal molluscs, nuts, berries, lichens, barks & fungi.
Though it takes place in south Devon the principles of this migration route can be applied to anywhere in Britain. Though not all places will have all of the same plants, the majority of them should be available to you no matter where you are.
This is not a survival-type course, I don’t believe that people learn much when under stress or when hungry. You’ll be warm, cosy and fed and taught in a way that is supportive, encouraging and non-critical so that you can learn the most and, in time, be able to pass it on safely to others.
For the scientifically minded this is not a Botany course. After teaching for so many years, I have found that using techniques from Aboriginal culture works best so that even those who believe they have poor memories can easily succeed. I won’t be referring to Latin names for most of the course though these will be in the information you take away with you after each week-end.
It’s a hands-on course where the participants are all expected to help with the cooking, washing up, tidying and keeping things in order on a rota basis. There are simple, logical rules around keeping the camp workable and around keeping safe on a wild food course in the outdoors.
The course runs from March to November on or around the full moon. This lunar link will enable the best access to seaweed during the summer months which is only exposed at the spring tides and also to enable you to be aware of the effects of the lunar/solar cycle on the natural world.
We use cosy bunkhouses for four of the week-ends and then, when the weather is warm we camp. The teaching then takes place in a beautiful bell tent with a wood-burning stove which acts as our school. You’ll need to bring your own tent and sleeping gear for those 6 week-ends and these need to be good enough quality to be able to keep you warm. Late Spring and early Autumn can be chilly so an all season sleeping bag is what you need.
Learning about wild foods and camping in remote places can be a dangerous business and I need to know that the rules will be followed so that everyone can be as safe as possible.
There is no alcohol permitted on the course because alcohol and wild foods don’t always go together; alcohol can affect people’s decision making leading to, for example, unwise decisions about going swimming in the river or the sea at night; alcohol and campfires/candles in the tent and wood burning stoves don’t always go together safely; alcohol can increase the likelihood of hypothermia by lowering the body temperature at night and also increasing the likelihood of heat exhaustion during the day. Also, alcohol doesn’t always bring out the best in people.
Other rules around safety are taught as we go along.
You can either pay up front, saving £100, or you can pay in 10 or 12 instalments.
For 10 week-ends including all instruction, accommodation, food and course materials, the total cost is £2,500 if you are paying in one instalment. Once an offer of a place is made to you it needs to be secured with a non-refundable deposit of whatever you feel is reasonable. The remaining amount needs to be paid by 1st February 2018.
If you would like to spread the payments over 10 or 12 instalments, the total cost will be £2,600. Again a non-refundable deposit of what you feel you can afford will need to be paid to secure your place and thereafter 10 or 12 instalments to make up the remainder payable on the first of each month beginning on 1st February 2018. A financial contract will be drawn up between us to confirm this.
DATES & TIMING
Full Moon week-ends 2018
I would like you to arrive from 6pm onwards on the Friday night to give you the best chance of absorbing as much information on the Saturday as possible. The course will finish around 5pm on the Sunday though this might be a little later for the three summer week-ends due to the tides.
You will learn over 150 edible plants on the Ring of the Wild Food Year migration route.
In Spring you’ll learn the edible, medicinal & poisonous leaves, flowers, roots and some fungi. As there are so many to learn we will spend the longest time on them, 4 week-ends in total. We will cook with them in various ways too.
We then take a single 12-man canoe down the river Dart so that you can experience the migration route as we leave the inland hunting grounds for the open horizons of the sea for the summer. This journey is not mandatory if you are not one for canoeing but it doesn’t require you to have canoed before.
In summer, for three week-ends, we will camp by the sea and you’ll learn the seaweeds, seashore plants, salt estuary plants, molluscs and wild grass seeds for unleavened bread. We will cook, make medicines and preserve the seaweeds and I will also teach you how to create a healing seaweed spa.
In September we leave the sea again by a single 12-man canoe, paddling with the tide up the river Dart back to the land we left in June. Again, this is not mandatory.
For the three Autumn week-ends you’ll learn how to identify and cook with berries, nuts, roots, lichens, barks and fungi. Two of the week-ends will be just focused on fungi as they are the most difficult to learn.
For our final night we will make a totally wild food feast of foods which will take you through the winter.
Between the week-ends, you’ll be asked to keep a journal of your adventures: noting the changes in the plants either by drawing them or photographing them. And you’ll keep notes of your cooking with them and your experiences of them.
It’s also a great help to everyone to hear a 5 minute recount of each person’s wild food adventures of the previous month. So much information is shared like this and it becomes a very special part of the whole experience.
This will be the third time I have run this year long course, it will always be a work in progress, improving and evolving with each new group.
Lifts can be arranged for the first week-end from and to the mainline train station in Totnes for a contribution to the petrol but there after you’ll need to arrange lifts between you. PLEASE NOTE that this offer is for train times that coincide with the times of the course and that if you have to take an earlier or later train you’ll need to pay the taxi fare yourself.
For the camping week-ends you will need to bring a tent to sleep in with sleeping bag and mat. Camping brings us very close into Nature and my motto is always: 'if you're roughing it you're doing it wrong'. The main bell tent will always be warm and dry and has hot water when the wood-burner is lit. In the warmer months you can swim in the river or the sea. Being part of the camp means everyone helps with all the jobs from cooking to cleaning to gathering wood and tending the fire.
The food will be mostly vegetarian and if there is fish there will always be a vegetarian option, it will incorporate what we are gathering too. Unfortunately I can’t cater for all diets like veganism. If you have any intolerances I can email you the menu in advance of each week-end so that you can see whether you need to supplement any of the meals with foods that you can eat.
In addition, I ask that each person bring a batch of cakes or baked goods to share each week-end. These are a lovely way of contributing to the group and are so appreciated with a cup of tea after gathering.
You’ll need to wear clothes with colours that blend you into Nature so that your eyes aren’t distracted by someone’s, for example, bright red jacket. Wearing natural colours will help you feel more connected to Nature too so you don’t want your sleeves to be constantly flashing jazzy patterns at you as you gather. So I ask that everyone wears clothes that are the colours of Nature: plain brown, black, grey, creams or natural looking greens or blues, and without patterns.
At the end of the first year that I ran this course, the group said they felt completely saturated with knowledge and were so excited by the idea of Spring to begin the journey again. The bonds of friendship that were created during the course were very special and so they have continued meeting every month to continue their learning. This years course people are intending to do the same from now onwards. Finding themselves part of a “hunter-gatherer tribe” to go gathering with has been an added bonus to continue learning safely.
There is an extraordinary and life-long bounty of adventures that lie ahead for those who have the knowledge. It will bring you into realms which you can only ever access by gathering and eating wild food. I believe that hunting for and gathering wild food is, without doubt, the most satisfying and nourishing way to experience life and it’s so much more fun and enriching to be able to do it in the company of those who share the passion.
“A completely life-changing experience. Learning with Ffyona takes you on a wonder-filled journey back to our rightful, wild home. Thank you for everything, it means more than I can ever put into words.” Tamara Colechester
“Ffyona’s course has had an enormous impact on me. Ffyona has awakened my senses to the spectacular beauty and abundance. I feel truly privileged to have shared this experience with such a wonderful group of people over ten weekends of this year. I will never forget my 50th year now!” Bernadette Thomas
“A magical journey through the seasons and Mother Nature’s generous bounty, each season holding a myriad of tasty and nutritious delights. A way of connection and finding our true place in nature. Through Ffyona's teaching style I feel confident in my identification of them and where to look, not only that but I have gained a hunter-gatherer tribe with whom I shared the journey. A truly wonderful year.” Olivia Goodman
“Ffyona's year long course is a joy. Every month I looked forward to reconnecting with some amazing and interesting people, discovering a new place in Devon to fall in love with, and building on a magical connection with nature that will stay with me forever.” Amanda Holden
“Following Ffyona through the Ring of the Wild Food Year was a transformational experience. My relationship with the food on my plate and to the wild plants and the land they grow in will never be the same. I see both their world and mine very differently now. Thank you so much.” Jenny Chapman
“Thank you for re-introducing me to the wonders of the natural world. This has been a life changing course that has started my own journey to self-discovery. This course enabled me to tap into inner strengths I never knew existed. I can feel the wildness re-awaken my soul.” Lowrian Williams
“Ffyona Campbell's Year Long Wild Food course has changed and enriched my life in ways I cannot describe. She is a powerful mentor teaching the old ways of our ancestors , The course is full of surprises and is paved with endless magic all the way through, which, after 7 years of learning bushcraft, is the one subject that now tantalises me most!” Johnny Tidd
“Every time I see a waxing moon I think of the many happy hours spent with Ffyona and my fellow 'hunter-gatherers in training'. Ffyona's course is an extremely enriching experience. A rare opportunity to deeply immerse yourself in the gifts of nature through the changing seasons. You will come away with a knowledge and understanding of how to gather and prepare wild greens, roots, nuts, berries, fruits, seaweeds and mushrooms. And you will never be the same again.....” Ben West
APPLICATION FORM FOR 2018
If you would like to be considered for a place in 2018, please write me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following: