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Wild Foods of Stanmer Park (Brighton)

18 and over
Group size: 8 - 20
Children can pay and come
About this experience

We are always forgetting this world

though each day it kisses us

with its lavish steaming breath

though the earth drums in our ears

though the flowers turn as we walk by

amazed at our forgetfulness (Daverick Leggett)

Drawing on a 30-year wealth of experiential knowledge, wild food expert Fergus Drennan will take you on a foraging journey that reveals the secret potential in even the most familiar of wild plants, the very plants you walk by every day. The humble bramble or blackberry will be revealed to be, on the contrary, a majestic beast of endless possibilities, native trees will be enticed to deliver up the sweetly nuanced complexity of molasses without a sugar cane plant in sight, and in one unexpected bite of crunchy and savoury abundance, you will experience the genuinely unique opportunity to eat 150 different wild greens all at once.

Fergus is offering a seasonal series of 3.5-hour in-depth wild food walks, for the Spring, Summer, Autumn an Winter, starting in September and running through the year.

On these wild food walks participants will be provided with clear information on the foraging basics, while simultaneously looking deeply into the skills required to get the maximum benefit from wild plants. This includes precise tips and guidance for working with the 20-30 specific plants and fungi encountered on location, as well as detailed instruction regarding processes and techniques, for example, salt pickling, vinegar pickling, lacto-fermenting, cordial making, wine and spirit making, dehydrating, fruit leather creation, seasonings, and other preserving and food preparation techniques. In many instances those techniques will be brought to life by tasting the fruits of such labour.

On each fun, informative, and engaging course, expect to taste 10-15 different wild food creations, including my soon to be world famous 150-different-plants-all-at-once biscuits! Most tasters suitable for vegan, gluten free, and nut free diets.

A full list of plants/fungi encountered will be given to each participant.

Please note that in order to respectfully comply with park bylaws we will not be gathering or picking any plants or fungi (apart from tiny samokleas to aid identification). Many can simply be touched, smelt, and important visual characteristics observed where they are, in situ. Where tasting of the raw plant provides interesting information, I will provide fresh samples from elsewhere to make sure you don't miss out!

This is a new course that begins in autumn 2020, hence no reviews yet. However, the course follows the same engaging format as my London Parks courses, so the lovely reviews I've received for those I hope an anticipate will be similar for this course. Her's a selection:

Even after almost a lifetime spent experimenting with, cooking and writing about food I learnt so much more in a few hours of foraging with Fergus. He is immensely knowledgeable as well as inventive, with a humorous touch.
Josceline Dimbleby 1st Sept 2019

Fergus was extremely knowledgable, personable and kept the entire group captivated with stories and information throughout the entire course. He knew how to educate us without bombarding us all with too much information. his enthusiasm is infectious and I came away totally inspired!
Charlotte October 2019

Fergus was a brilliant guide and gave a really interesting intro to wild food. We were amazed at how much is around us. Fergus kept us interested and entertained throughout. His passion for wild food and his desire to have fun and be creative with it was evident during the entire session. We'd recommend this experience to anyone who's interested in foraging or just fancies learning something new / doing something different in London.
Thanks Fergus!
Joanna November 2019

A really great way to take a 'more observant' meander around one of London's beautiful woodland parks. Fergus retained the group's attention with wit, charm and his invaluable wisdom on all manor of wild foods. A genuine guy, imparting expert' forager's knowledge about how to identify, prepare, store and eat foods with samples on the ready, made this 3+ hour stroll absolutely fly by! My second forage adventure with Fergus and already looking forward to doing another one! Highly recommend for inquisitive youngsters and grown-up kids alike. :)
Chris November 2019

Fergus' walks are like a city food tour but 10x better! You'll taste more than you could ever fit in a city food tour (I didn't count, but it felt like we were tasting something new every couple of minutes and in 3.5h that's a lot!), you will use your five senses, listen to funny stories, and pick up lots of tips and memorable facts along the way. And they are great for kids and dogs as they can run around outside without the risk of getting lost of run over!

These walks are really one of a kind. They bring together Fergus' passion (his excitement is contagious), patience (you can ask him hundreds of questions including 'whats this?' repeatedly and he doesn't seem to mind, on the contrary!) and his culinary and experimental talents (going beyond what you will read in books), such that it would be difficult for anyone else to top these walks.
Maria November 2019

About your mentor

Foraging is a life-long learning process, and Fergus has been at it for 30 years. Not only does he have great depths of knowledge in all the key aspects of identification, processing, use and best sustainable practice, but he combines it with a fun and engaging manner that brings the craft to life and makes it accessible to all. He has been described by his foraging instructor peers as "the Starship Enterprise of foraging". Forager Mark Williams enthused: "We need gastronauts like Star Fleet Commander Drennan to chart new worlds..." His favourite was when he was described as "Heston Blumenthal, Rene Redzepi, and Pascal Bauder, rolled into one.”
He is inspired to offer this string of courses because there is often the misconception that, in order to really get to know wild plants, you need to visit wild places, or at least the countryside. Certainly that is good to do, but it doesn't fully appreciate the incredible biodiversity to be found in cities, and parks and green spaces in particular. Here biodiversity simply means a unique wealth of plants. Many will be generally wild, others more feral or ornamental, yet from a foraging perspective, whatever their pedigree, they offer unique learning experiences. And, wild food knowledge is usually best developed near to where you live, and in places it is convenient to visit regularly throughout the year.

Strengths you may develop

Learning aims
To be able to appeciate the wealth of wild food abundunce that surrounds us.
Develop a clear understanding of how to gather seasonally and sustainably for both food and medicine.
Learn key wild food preservation and processing techniques.
Discover that although the aim here is to render invisible food visible, sometimes it is the journey that is more important than the destination.
Experience the added learning that comes from a multi-sensory approach to wild foods, through touch, taste, smell, sight, and indeed listening.
I’ll provide

Snacks

Safety

Basic DBS  Basic DBS

Enhanced DBS  Enhanced DBS

Risk Assessment  Risk Assessment

Public Liability Insurance  Public Liability Insurance

Smoke detector  Smoke detector

First aid training  First aid training

First aid kit  First aid kit

Safeguarding training  Safeguarding training

Please note it is the responsibility of the booker to satisfy themselves about the adequacy of the safety measures. This platform is merely an introducer and does not verify the items listed here.

Cancellations

My experience consists of a leisure activity, on a specific date(s), and therefore the 14-day ‘cooling off period’ under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 does not apply.

  • No refunds will be given for individual sessions missed or cancelled during the experience.

Cancellation process

Although, of course, valid and often unexpected occurrences do arise that lead to non-attendance, I'm increasingly finding that when there is no refund nearly 100% attendees show up, but with a refund, often people don't attend. No refund helps focus intention to attend! Please note that asking to transfer to a later course date than the one you are booked on, I will (and you should) understand to be the same as a cancellation, and no refund will be given. However, if you give me 1 month's notice AND there is space on the later course (in the same year) you wish to attend, I will transfer you.

Fergus
This experience is offered by Fergus

Wild food experimentalist, course faciliator, forager, the ever-curious Fergus Drennan, aka Fergus The Forager, has been gathering and learning about wild plants, seaweeds, and fungi for over 40 years, beginning on Wimbledon Common, aged 3 years, collecting dandelions for the family’s pet tortoise. Since those early days, and through much creative and experimental exploration he has continued his foraging practice, not only as a means to understand and to discover the practical relevance that foraging has in the modern developed world, but also in terms of what it means to be an environmentally conscious human in relation to the natural world. “Can foraging ever be considered a truly sustainable practice, and if so how?”, is a question that always orchestrates his foraging activity, as does a pursuit of foraging’s playful and creative possibilities, whether they be found in novel recipes using plants, fungi, and seaweeds, or unlocking the possibilities that wild botanicals offer for other non-food-based creative pursuits. That includes, among other things, the making of baskets, mushroom paper, and natural dyes and pigments. Fergus has a huge amount of wild food knowledge to share, and an array of imaginative ways of doing so. After even only an afternoon with him, the natural world around you will never look the same again.

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