Practical Ways To Reconnect To Plants
The Green Path is a seven-part audio class on embodied nature connection. It teaches practical ways for you to reconnect to plants, self and soil.
The Green Path is a crash course into the deeper aspects of the forager’s world.

The stuff that rarely makes it into those coffee table foraging books.

You see, our world desperately needs plant workers.

That’s what I call anyone who works with and loves plants.

Plant workers recognise that our culture has become profoundly disconnected and dissociated from the rest of the ecosystem.

To the point that we might not even make it as a species.

But plant workers are optimistic and have hope in their hearts, even in the face of despair and adversity.

Hope is a powerful attribute of a plant worker.

We keep spreading the plant knowledge, even when many folks think foraging is only about making wild cocktails or getting trashed in the hedge.

That’s a disconnect. Right there.

The purpose of this class is to teach you practical ways to reconnect.

Paradoxically by using technology to help you get off technology.

You meet a plant, to paraphrase Basho, the Zen poet: ‘by sitting with plant’.

He actually said: ‘If you want to meet bamboo, sit with bamboo’.

So I only want to speak with people who recognise this and seek reconnection to the natural world.

People who want to rewild their hearts.

People who want to go a little bit deep.

If you only see wild plants as something quirky to serve at a supper party or to make you look pretty (herbal face packs spring to mind), well… 

 … this class isn’t for you! As the elders of old used to say:

'You’ve got to take pride in your roots, and that starts with education. If you forget the past, the stories, the future will be bleak'.

The Green Path is for people who recognise how important it is for our communities to learn how to feed and heal themselves…

… and want to make change happen in the world. In their local community. In themselves.

Without seeking permission first from anyone.

It’s about reskilling ourselves in the ways of plants.

Then going out and teaching our communities. So we can (hopefully) become powerful, resilient advocates for change.

If that’s you, welcome aboard.

I found the Green Path incredibly helpful and found the exercise fascinating. I will be doing this with all the plants in the future. It’s given me a new perspective on foraging and on nature. - Kathy Zablotzky

My methodology, my practice (what I will be teaching you in these lessons), is very different to what you most likely assume about foraging at the moment.

It’s why single parents in some of the most economically deprived areas of this country get what I am on about.

It’s why multi-millionaires and major corporations have invited me to teach their clients and inner circles.

I teach the rich and poor and everyone in between. I don’t make a judgement on where someone finds themselves in life.

So first, I need to make something very clear.

Foraging is very different from buying vegetables at the farmers' market, grocers or supermarket.

One of my frustrations is hearing folks say, ‘Nature is a supermarket’.

It’s so messed up that kind of thinking.

A classic example of how disconnected we are from the natural world.

But I used to believe that. Say that. I even had a t-shirt with it on.

No, really, I did.

Then the ecosystem taught me something.

Not in some shamanic, magical way.

No, not like that at all.

I don’t do shamanism. It’s not my path.

If it’s yours, that’s fine.

So I want to make it very clear that this isn’t a course on talking to plant spirits.

It is a course on practising the present

Or in plain English. Good old-fashioned observation and attention, coupled with a good dose of discernment.

My teaching doesn’t require you to believe anything I say.

Instead, I encourage you to practice these lessons. Verify them. Verify them again. And just for good measure, verify them a third time.

Then you can decide if they have any value.

Most people in our culture wake up to the sound of an alarm clock.

Usually a sound from a light-box (mobile phone).

They get out of their square bed. Part the curtains that cover a square window.

And if they are awake, they may realise they are in a square room. Inside a square house. A box.

Then they head downstairs for breakfast.

They place square bread (usually) into a square toaster. Sit at a square table (maybe).

They might even turn on a square television if they are so inclined.

Then they tidy the dishes (sometimes). Head out their front door, which is a square. OK, it’s a rectangle. But you get my drift.

Then they get into a car, bus, train etc.

Stare out of more square windows while travelling along linear lines called roads until they arrive at their destination.

Usually, parking up in yet another box.

Then get out of the vehicle and walk down straight pavements made from square paving stones. Go into boxes called buildings, where 80% of people work in.

Sit down at a square desk. Turn on a square computer screen. Stare out of even more square windows.

And then, after work, they repeat this process.

If you have ever, at the end of the day, turned off your computer. Switched off your mobile phone or unplugged the television …

… and instead of instantly wanting to fill the silence with another activity like talking. Or reading. Or listening to music etc.

If instead, you just sit with yourself. You might notice something about where you exist in your body.

Most likely, you have an experience of being slightly giddy. As if you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. Feel a bit spaced out.

That’s technology for you.

Your awareness (I suspect) will be up in your head. Disconnected from your body.

And that somewhere, down there, your body exists.

I refer to this type of experience as ‘going to the moon’.

Foraging is about ‘returning to the earth’. Our bodies.

It’s about getting out of your head and coming to your senses.

And when I say ‘out of your head’…

… I absolutely

… categorically

… do not mean with drugs or alcohol.

I want you to realise that you also don’t need to be a botanist to be a forager.

It helps, but it isn’t essential.

To be an effective forager, you need to identify plants before they have flowered or gone to seed.

A botanist will wait until the plant is in flower. Then pull out a wildflower key (another square box).

Go through a linear checklist, ticking off the various attributes that make up a plant.

Hopefully, concluding that the plant in hand is the same as in the book.

As foragers, this way of identifying plants causes a problem.

If you grow vegetables, you will know that the best time to harvest is before the plant is in flower. Usually.

And so it is with foraging. The best time to gather is usually before the plant flowers, especially for leafy greens.

There are always exceptions in Nature.

So, how do you identify a plant when it isn’t in flower?

Thank you for the course. It made me actually get out and do what I’ve been meaning to do for years. The bite-size chunks were great, just enough to crack on with. I was checking my email in anticipation. - Emma Baynes

Botany has been described as the pattern method of plant identification.

This is why we have wildflower keys.

But if you’ve ever looked at a flower key, you might be forgiven for thinking that you need a PhD or a piece of paper from a University in order to get to know plants.

Not so. As I’m going to show you.

Plus. I don’t know about you. But in the early days, all that science stuff just left me cold.

It reminded me too much of the unbelievably boring classes at school. Much of the time listening to things that I just didn’t get anyway.

So when I started teaching foraging, I wanted folk to be brought deeply into the mysterious world of plants.

So I teach people how I learned about plants.

Botany is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong.

But I noticed when I started travelling and meeting traditional cultures, that there wasn’t a single botanist amongst them.

Yet they knew plants at such a deep level, even a high-ranking bot-head at Kew gardens would have had a hard time keeping up with them.

So what was different?

What was different between the way a scientist learns plants, and a member of an indigenous tribe with no botanical knowledge?

I’ll expand more on that a bit later on.

For today, we are going to do as botanists do.

We’re going to pay attention. Look and observe.

And to do this we are going to find a plant.

I’ve been wondering which one.

I mean so many plants only show themselves at certain times of the year, right?

So we need a plant that you can find any time (usually).

And it needs to be one that you know.

One that’s been burned into your psyche since you were a child.

The Green Path is a seven-part audio class. It is suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced foragers.

Even if you’ve only gathered blackberries with your grannie. That doesn’t matter. We all start somewhere.

I have found the Green Path class brilliant. I love your down-to-earth style. I am so inspired. - Jenny Crowther

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About Robin Harford

Robin Harford is a plant forager, ethnobotanical researcher and wild food educator. He is the author of the bestselling Edible and Medicinal Wild Plants of Britain and Ireland.

He established his wild food foraging school in 2008, and his foraging courses were recently listed at the top of BBC Countryfile's 'Best foraging courses in the UK'.

Robin is the creator of Michelin chef Richard Corrigan recommended the site for inclusion in The Times Top 50 Websites For Food and Drink. It is listed at #27.

He has travelled extensively, documenting and recording wild food plants' traditional and local uses in indigenous cultures. His work has taken him to Africa, India, SE Asia, Europe and the USA.

Robin occasionally appears on national and local radio and television. He has been featured in BBC Good Food magazine, Sainsbury’s magazine, The Ecologist, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, etc.

He is a member of the Society for Ethnobotany and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.