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
… 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?