I was asked to help out on one of the summer NCS (National Citizen Service) programmes this year. A brilliant programme running over four weeks that takes teenagers of all walks of life and capabilities out of their comfort zones and gets them interacting with their local communities in a positive way. I believe there’s a number of goals that the programme aims to achieve and one of them is to set the participants up with different ideas on which direction their future might take them.
With that in mind I’ve been asked over the past couple of years to attend and run an introduction to foraging session for over 200 students a day, obviously we split them in to lots of smaller groups (around 20-30 in each) and stagger the sessions so that everyone gets a go.
It’s great to explain to the groups what it is exactly that I do as a ‘job’ – a full time forager – usually they don’t understand to start with – but by the end of the session I hope not only are there eyes opened to foraging but also to the potential and massive range of directions their life might take them, work wise. I often get members of the group asking to be apprentices, although I’ve yet to take any of them up on their offers. However in the future I will more than likely jump at the opportunity.
Over the day we had almost everyone making and cooking up their very own nettle soup and over 90% of them actually tried it and liked it. We also made nettle fibre wrist bands and played a number of plant based games which went down well.
I love working with this age group as I believe it can sometimes be a massive eye opener to all the students, but specifically to those that don’t enjoy more academic studies. I’m always amazed with how much some of them already know (mainly thanks to the computer game ‘mine craft’ where you make things from the materials you pick up.