Foraging on the Cornish Coast
I'm the CEO, Cook, Secretary, Guinea pig & Dishwasher at Wild St Ives.
I'm a member of the Association of Foragers; an international professional foragers association, promoting sustainability and ecological stewardship through teaching and harvesting wild plants and fungi for use as food, drink and medicine.
I set up Wild St Ives in 2016 in order to share my passion for the world of plants and teach others how to safely & sustainably access all the delicious wild edible plants that surround us.
I offer consultancy on Wild foods and take people out for guided botanical walks in beautiful locations in and around St Ives bay, Cornwall; introducing them to the plants that we encounter and discussing ethnobotanical uses as food, fibre and medicine. In addition to this, we also look at how to identify plants, sustainable foraging techniques, legal issues and poisonous plants to avoid.
I've worked with a wide range of people and tailor the walks to peoples individual interests, from grannies and toddlers, hen parties, professional Chefs, and even a local artisan Gin Distillery.
I eat wild foods pretty much every day and encourage people to use these plants in their everyday life, sharing recipes and cooking techniques as well as snacks and drinks made using wild harvested ingredients.
I teach sustainable & responsible foraging; only picking if you are 100% sure of the species, ensuring the plant is abundant enough to pick, that the environment is left unharmed, never taking more than you need and, of course, leaving plenty for the plants to regenerate.
If practiced respectfully, gathering wild plants can be one of the most sustainable options with our foods, particularly with leafy green vegetables.
I use wild harvested, homegrown or quality local produce whenever possible on my courses. I try to minimise the resource use of my business and ensure it has an overall positive environmental impact.
I grew up in St Ives, Cornwall and have been wandering around the moors, woodlands and coast for many years exploring the huge diversity of edible plants.
I didn't grow up foraging, growing veg or even with much of an interest in the world of plants. Growing up I was a ridiculously stubborn eater, what's technically known as a 'Salad Dodger'. Chips were about as close as I came to the world of vegetables.
In my late teens/ early twenties I spent quite a bit of time travelling in India & Nepal. The food was incredible and I loved travelling in rural areas where people grow or wild harvest lots of their own food. This connection to food, plants and the local landscape really inspired me and when I returned to Cornwall I enrolled on an Ethnobotanical degree at a local college.
I love the satisfaction of gathering my own food and I wanted to take more responsibility for my food choices, and so I worked and volunteered on many farms and ecological projects. I took on an allotment and started growing as much of my own food as I could. I studied permaculture, market gardening, forest gardening, mushroom growing etc.
I quickly outgrew my garden and began learning as many of the wild plants and their uses as I could in my local area. Why bother with all the effort of growing so many vegetables when there were hundreds of tastier plants freely available to pick on the walk home?
Before I knew it, I had an extensive knowledge of wild plants and was incorporating them into food and drinks on a daily basis. It really is incredible how much of the plants that surround us are edible and I'm always learning about new plants and their uses, usually ones that I've walked past every day and never noticed.
In 2016 I set up Wild St Ives with support from the School for Social Entrepreneurs, with the aim of being able to share with people knowledge I passionately believe is beneficial in modern-day life.