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Foraging – The Sustainable New Activity at Create98

Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate our planet and to encourage thinking about how we could all be more mindful of environmental challenges. 

At Create98 we are conscious of the need to save the planet and always looking for ways to improve our sustainability. We are delighted therefore to be able to provide the opportunity for us all to learn more about foraging, with two new tutors Louise and Max. 

Louise Swain and Max Levy – Create98

Ahead of their first class we caught up with them both to find out more about what they love about foraging and what you can expect from these exciting classes exploring our local area. 

Louise and Max, thanks so much for chatting with us today. It seems especially fitting that we should be celebrating Earth Day today! So, foraging – a completely new class for Create98. Can you set the scene for us and tell us how you got into foraging in the first place? 

Louise: It was actually Max’s interest in bushcraft that led us both into foraging. Max was going off to the woods to learn lost skills, sleeping under the stars and then staggering out a week later looking and smelling worse for wear…but very content…and I wanted to get involved! Foraging was an element of bushcraft that we both felt drawn to and so we decided to book a course together and have been hooked ever since! That was 6-7 years ago now, we’ve learnt a great deal since then but there’s always more to learn and that’s what makes it so exciting!

Amazing! So, what is it that you both enjoy so much about foraging?

Louise: Foraging has had a really positive impact on my mental health. Deepening my relationship with nature and feeling more in tune with our natural world has helped to bring me peace. It makes me feel like I understand the world (and myself!) a little bit more. It is a mindful and sensory experience – that includes both the good and bad – I’ve been stung by stinging nettles a lot, which helps you to be in the present! I know how healing and fun it can be and that’s what drives me to share it with others.

Foraging for food – nettle soup

Max: What’s not to enjoy! We love food, we love spending time surrounded by nature and we love learning. Foraging is an excellent excuse to get out and about throughout the seasons, get fresh air, exercise and finally come home to make a wholesome dinner from your foray. 

Well, given today is Earth Day, could you tell us more about how foraging supports sustainability?

Max: I think one of the keys to encouraging sustainability among the general population is to connect people with the natural world and help them to care more about it. Foraging is a fantastic way to give people a closer connection with the plants they walk past on a daily basis. Like anything, if not done respectfully, foraging has the potential to be unsustainable which is why we adhere to a set of rules to ensure our activity does not negatively affect the environment. Firstly, there’s some delicious, non-native and invasive plants such as the Three-Cornered Leek. This plant is a great substitute for spring onions and spreads in woodlands displacing our native bluebells. Usually, wardens do their best to clear the plant so eating it simply helps the local ecosystem! Many of the delicious edibles we use on a daily basis are considered common weeds in the garden. People spend hard earned cash on toxic herbicides when they could just be eating them, while reducing the amount of commercially produced foods they buy! These are just a couple of examples of how foraging can encourage and support a sustainable lifestyle.

It’s so interesting! And I understand you have also found another way to put your foraging to good use! Tell us more  about Salix Moon Apothecary! 

Louise: Salix Moon Apothecary was born out of my love for foraging! Over time I had become increasingly fixated with wild medicine, making traditional remedies for myself and my family with plants you’d find in our hedgerows or ‘weeds’ from the garden. I remember feeling frustrated at the time with the lack of natural and plastic-free skincare which led me to focus on herbs and oils for the skin, which organically turned into a little business! I have always felt incredibly inspired by nature and Salix Moon Apothecary was a way of getting creative with the natural world, combining my infatuation with herbs with my love of vintage design, botanical illustration and potion making. 

And finally, for anyone interested in joining one of your foraging classes at Create98, what can they expect?

Louise: We will be walking in a small group through our local wild spaces spotting and discussing some of the edible, poisonous and medicinal plants we encounter. Our walks will primarily be focused on plant identification, foraging safety and sustainably – with a little time to sit and enjoy some of our homemade foraged snacks and herbal tea! Our aim is to create a friendly, relaxed and welcoming space for all, a safe space to walk together, share knowledge, and remedy our connection to the natural world.

If you are interested in exploring more about foraging or joining Louise and Max in their upcoming classes, just click here for more details.

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