During Covid 19 Lockdown I developed an online Wild Food Mentoring scheme. I wasn’t sure how it would work out for both myself and those I was mentoring, but after 3 months i’m delighted to report that it has gone really well for both clients and myself. I’m now quite convinced that for most people 1-to-1 sessions are the best way to develop foraging knowledge, skills and confidence.
You can book a one-off mentoring appointment to address particular questions that you have been puzzling over (eg. help with identification, where to find something, how to tell x from y, what are these mushrooms in my local woods, tips on usage, school projects etc), or book a series of sessions to develop your skills and knowledge in an ongoing way.
Why Online Wild Food Mentoring?
There are many advantages to online mentoring that go well beyond Covid 19 lockdown and social distancing protocols.
When I asked for feedback, one of my mentees (who attended mentoring sessions with her partner) neatly summarised what they liked about it. I’ve reproduced her words here, pretty much as she wrote them:
“The benefits of Online Mentoring with Galloway Wild Foods
(eg) Going on a public or private foraging walk with a guide:
- Being able to go at our pace: events are great but they are often a huge dump of info in one go. Being able to learn a few things and then explore separately really helped the info stick and built a much stronger connection with the plants we were learning
- Being able to focus on the things that mattered to us: on group events things that you already know are likely to be covered again unless you are a beginner. This is fine and understanable, but the mentoring allows Mark to meet us exactly where we are, and build on what we already know, rather than catering to a diverse audience.
- Cost: We would love to do private foraging walks, but they are just not in our budget. Same issues too with travel and not having a car.
- Learning by doing: the mentoring is active learning, requiring us to go away and explore and do our own discovery, rather than being fed the information. This makes the new knowledge stick!
- Continuity: Regular chats over time really make you pay attention to what is appearing/ disappearing/ changing with the seasons, and allows for revisiting plants at different stages of development.
- Extra Confidence: Not having to rely on your own ID through books- this is important but at the stage we are at it is so reassuring to have an expert opinion. This builds confidence which is such a big part of feeling able to get stuck in.
Heard Enough? … Book Your Mentoring Slot here!
…Or read more about how it works below….
Who Is the Wild Food Mentor?
The Wild Food Mentor is me, Mark Williams. Hi!
Its me, and only me, that you’ll be chatting to in your online 1 to 1 mentoring sessions. This means that if you book multiple sessions, we’ll develop a rapport and understanding that makes the most of our time.
“The way you conducted the sessions felt like having a chat with a friend, rather than a serious teacher/ student relationship, and that has been really fun!”- A.M., Cumbria
I have been studying wild food for 35 years and teaching about it for the last 30 years. About 10 years ago I started this website, purely as a way to share my passion and experience. It grew and grew, and while I have always maintained it as a free and advert-free resource, the audience it generates has allowed me to work full time as a foraging teacher and wild food consultant for the past 8 years. Down the years I have taught many thousands of people how to connect with plants, fungi and seaweed.
You can read more about me here, and, I hope, get to know even more of what i’m about by browsing through this website and my social media posts.
I am a founder member of The Association of Foragers.
What is Wild Food Mentor for?
My motivations for offering online Wild Food Mentoring are:
- To help people to connect with wild foods and the benefits they bring in terms of physical health through biodiverse eating
- To support people’s mental health through the deep nature connection and focussed practice that foraging brings, especially in the Covid 19 and post-Covid 19 world.
- To help reduce the environmental impact of food choices
- To help reduce people’s food bills in the post-covid world
- To promote safe, sustainable and resilient foraging practices and help restore humans as responsible keystone species
- To promote an active, vibrant, sustainable wild food culture
- To meet my own need to feel useful to society through teaching what I know best
- To allow me to connect directly with other foragers, and feel connected to, and invested in, their ongoing learning journey
- It enables me to work from home more, reducing my own carbon footprint
- Because i’ve seen such great results in those i’ve mentored, and really enjoyed getting to know them a bit.
Who is Wild Food Mentor for?
Wild Food Mentor is for anyone who is interested in, and excited by, increasing their knowledge and use of wild plants, fungi and seaweed. This could be anyone from total novices to experienced foragers looking to extend the breadth and depth of their knowledge. It can be for individuals, community groups or businesses. I am currently mentoring every experience level, from complete novices to experienced foragers and several established foraging teachers.
The whole point of a mentoring approach is that I can fully adapt to anyones needs, interests and knowledge levels.
Here is a list of just some of the people that have used and benefitted from my online wild food mentoring to date:
- A foraging novice based in Edinburgh who explores by bike with his two children
- An experienced forager in the Scottish highlands looking to extend her knowledge
- A mum in Kincardineshire who home schools her children, looking to increase her knowledge, feed her family and safely educate her kids in foraging
- A couple in Glasgow with a little experience, looking to expand their knowledge of urban wild foods
- A forager/chef in S Wales looking for support and inspiration to explore new recipe ideas, and develop his wild food based business
- A mum helping her kids with a school project on seaweeds – mum and kids attended the session
- A couple running a food charity in Leeds, looking for new ideas and inspiration for both themselves and their clients
- Foraging teachers in Scotland and England, looking to develop their knowledge, teaching skills and business models
- An inexperienced forager in Ireland, looking to connect more deeply with the natural world
- An allotment keeper in Fife, looking to connect with the edible weeds on their patch, and the wilder world beyond
- A confident plant forager from Manchester, looking to expand their fungi ID skills
- A glass blower from Cumbria looking to expand her wild food knowledge, and find new inspiration for glassware through wild species
- A bartender in Toronto looking to connect with new flavours and develop new drinks
- An outdoor educator in Ayrshire looking to survey the woodland in which she teaches, and find new ways to engage children in nature
- A small business owner on Arran looking to develop a new wild strand to her food range
- An experienced forager in Ireland looking to finally “crack” the carrot family
“In terms of feedback, I’ve loved it! At the very start of the mentoring, I did a sheet summarising the plants I knew, the ones I had a vague inkling about & the ones I was clueless about & it’s amazing how this has drastically changed over the course of our mentoring. This might sound like a paper exercise to tick things off a list but it’s actually changed how I’ve experienced & connected with nature during spring. Previously, I was a bit blinded by the sea of green. Now, my connection with nature is much deeper – it’s like going out for a walk & meeting friends along the way & appreciating their quirky features (like the smoky bacon smell of figwort …. who’d have thought!! )”- F.A., Ireland
What Sort of Things Can the Wild Food Mentor Help With?
While everyone develops their own focus and interests within the wide world of foraging, most people are be interested in learning about a wide range of things. The sorts of themes we can explore include:
- Urban foraging
- Garden foraging
- Particular ID challenges you have been facing
- Wild resource surveys of your area
- Identification skills – often this may be just as much as confirming your own identification, giving you the confidence to harvest and use a new species.
- Preserving tips – including dehydration, fermentation, pickling, syrup/cordial making
- Creative recipes and cooking tips
- Advice on good learning resources
- General coaching on how, where and when to find good things in the wild
- Nutritional benefits of wild harvests
- Medicinal uses – in which I have good grounding in traditional use and the health benefits of specific wild species and wild eating in general, though you should note that I am not a medical herbalist
- The wild cocktail cabinet – making delicious drinks from wild plants
- Wild food business mentoring – event design, promotion, insurance, risk assessments etc
- The wider politics of foraging
- Getting to know important poisonous species – set your mind at rest!
- Anything you’d like to know about foraging and wild food!
The benefit of the mentoring approach is that we can focus on your specific needs within these areas.
“For us online mentoring has been a dream come true – the equivalent of if someone really into 100m sprinting got to hang out with Usain Bolt and chat about their running technique! It’s incredible looking back over my notes from even just our 3 sessions so far and seeing how much progress we have made in that time.”
Where is Wild Food Mentoring For?
I have lived and foraged in SW Scotland all of my life, which means that the flora, fungi and seaweeds I know most about are in that area – primarily North European temperate maritime species. This means I have good knowledge of most things you would encounter throughout the UK and much of Northern Europe and temperate North America.
Most people who I mentor are UK and Ireland based, but I’m happy to assess/advise how useful I might be to applicants from further afield.
Foraging works well in urban as well as rural settings.
How is Wild Food Mentor delivered?
- 40 minute face-to-face Zoom video call (or similar, including telephone if you prefer). You book and pay for this instantly yourself from the available slots – click here.
- If you consent, you can be added to a wider WhatsApp group with others on the Wild Food Mentor Scheme. This has proven to be a valuable learning and support resource, with lots of sharing and inspiration.
“The WhatsApp group has been great too! So lovely to be able to get feedback and inspiration from other people on their wild food journey.” – L.C., Lochaber
- Direct sharing of photos and resources with Mark using WhatsApp or whatever medium you prefer. We use these during our online meetings to explore identification features
- For an extra fee you can receive a follow-up email from Mark with links, photos and further reading arising from our face-to-face meeting
- A range of live and recorded webinars, group chats, special events, meet-ups
- Priority booking on Galloway Wild Foods Events
- Discounts for regular clients
“Since I started the mentoring course, its like i’ve been seeing the world in an extra dimension!” – S.B., Edinburgh
How Long Does Wild Food Mentoring Last?
Sessions are 40 minutes long.
You can start and stop the service as you wish – some people have booked single sessions to tackle specific topics/ID challenges, but for most people it works best as a regular session, with a two week cycle being popular. This allows time to save up questions, and for plants/seasonal harvests to change between sessions.
You can book up to 21 days ahead for standard appointments, and 6 days ahead for low income appointments.
What does Wild Food Mentor cost?
You pay up front as you book your appointment(s). You can amend or cancel your booking up to 48 before the appointment. I am under no obligation to refund or reorganise appointments for cancellations or no-shows within 48 hours of the booking.
- 40 minute 1-to-1 Zoom session : £30
- Option to add £15 to your booking to receive a follow-up email from Mark with links, photos and further reading arising from our face-to-face meeting
- I am keen to keep mentoring affordable to people on lower incomes, and am making 4 sessions per week available at £15/session. These sessions are intended for those who can’t afford the full price, especially those that fall within definitions of Low Income or/and are eligible for Universal Credit. £15 appointments are only bookable less than 1 week in advance, and can’t be block booked.
How Does Booking Work?
- Click on a “Schedule Appointment” button on this page, or here.
- If you have booked using this system before and saved your details, you can just log in and your details will be added automatically
- Select the type of appointment you want to book
- Select date for your appointment from the calendar from the available dates which are shown in bold (mostly on Wednesdays and Thursdays). If no slots are showing as available, they are fully booked. Slots will only show as available within 13 days of availability (or within 6 days for £15 appointments), so you may have to check back nearer the time.
- Click the box if you want to add a follow-up email to your appointment for a further £15
- Select the time slot you want from those that are available on the day (if the time slot you want doesn’t show, it isn’t available)
- Check the appointment time is right for you and click “continue” (or “add a time” to add another appointment)
- Add your name, email address and phone number to the form. Save your details for quick bookings in the future.
- Read and agree to the terms and conditions and answer the quick questions about if/how you’d like to share photos during mentoring sessions, and (if you wish) add some info about yourself, such as where in the world you are, your level of experience, particular areas of interest (eg. Mushroom, wild booze, developing a business etc). (No need to do this every time you book)
- Click “Pay Now” to be taken to secure payment on via PayPal (this option also allows for payment by credit/debit card).
- You will receive email notification of your appointment and zoom link on completion of payment, and an email reminder 72 hours and 24 hours prior to the booking.
- To cancel or amend your booking (up to 48 hours before) click on the link in your booking confirmation
- Click on your zoom link at the time of your meeting
You do not need to download an app or sign up to anything to join a zoom meeting – you just click on a link with your computer or smartphone. See here if you haven’t done this before.
Although it is by no means essential, It very much helps mentoring appointments if you have WhatsApp installed on your mobile. This allows us quickly and directly exchange photographs, links etc. WhatsApp is free and secure, and can be downloaded to your smartphone here.
If you do not have a smartphone you can still use WhatsApp on your computer. Here is how.
If you do not want to use WhatsApp, we can use email.
Discounts for Multiple Bookings and Use of GWF Gift Vouchers to Pay For Mentoring
Setting these up is a bit complicated and costly so it will take a little time to add them.
In the mean time, if you’d like to use a GWF Gift Voucher to pay for online mentoring, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
“What I love about the mentoring is that:
a/. I can stick on a topic for as long as it takes for me to understand what I’ve found or get pointers on what I need to be looking out for &
b/. the continuity in that when I get stuck it’s great to have a person to go to for help or equally to celebrate with when you finally find something you’ve been searching for for a number of years.”
– B.L., Manchester