Note: Covid 19 course adaptions. Places are limited to allow for ease of maintaining personal distance. Hand sanitizer and disposable gloves available for use when and if appropriate.
Suitable for those with both beginner or intermediate level fungi knowledge. Also includes more advanced cooking/preservation methods.
Beginning at 10 am and concluding around 4 pm (9 am - 3 pm during November), we will be foraging in different fungal habitats, for example, woodlands of various kinds as well as grassland (exact locations will depend on the quality/quantity of available fungi I spot when doing a recce the day before). Drawing on my 30-year experience of identifying and gathering fungi, the aim is to provide a general introduction to seasonally available fungi, how to harvest them sustainably and how to utilize them as food and medicine, as well as how to recognise and avoid poisonous species. I will also introduce, with hands-on examples in some cases, how to use fungi for other purposes such as painting, dyeing, ink making, paper making. You will taste a number of different mushroom prouducts during the day, for example, canied fungi, pickled fungi, lacto-fermented fungi, liquid mushroom seasoning, mushroom cookies etc.
In terms of non-food related fungi uses, whether you have children or not, such an added exploration is a really positive way to introduce fungi to them, bypassing the mycophobic culture of fear that abides in British culture. A 'simple' wild-food-based lunch (delicious soup with homemade sourough bread) will be provided (but feel free to bring extras of course. We will also work with some excellent fungi identification keys, as well as a range of guide books. Much of fungi identification using the naked eye rather than microscopes (that is, identification in the field metaphorically and literally) is about a balance of probabilities that point to a particular species. The keys that we will use are excellent ones that, if used, will greatly aid your on-going confidence in beginning to accurately and systematically correctly identify a particular fungus down to genus level whilst out on your own.
Note: November is a late season course, at the transitional time when the bulk of autumn fungi fruiting bodies for most species are on the wane, yet it is also that exciting time when species stimulated by the colder and frostier days begin to appear.
Foraging is a life-long learning process, and Fergus has been at it for 30 years, stuying an gathering fungi since 1990. 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 delving into the wonderful world of fungi was his entry to the larger world of wild foods and medicines more generally.
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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.
Cancel up to 48 hours before any session and receive a 50% refund.
If you cancel: Cancel up to 2 weeks before the course date and receive a full refund. If I cancel: A full refund given. If the course needs to be cancelled due to Government law changes regarding Covid 19, a full refund will be provided.
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.