Crafting Stories And Foraging Food

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Emerson College

RH18 5JX

Forest Row

RH18 5JX

United Kingdom

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Event description
This is the Summer weekend of our year-long seasonal programme, focussing on spontaneous storytelling (crafting) +the wild foods of summer

About this event

Join myself and co-host Arthur Dyer on a journey of food, fire and folktales: 4 seasonal weekends of foraging, fire by friction, cooking food and conjuring tales.

As a story is woven from key moments, the craft of foraging arises from the sustainable gathering of roots, fruits, seeds, and leaves.

In both these spheres, we need to cultivate an awareness of our place in the physical and imaginative landscape. Preparing for and marking the transitional moments that connect each story scene, or the seasonal shifts in a plants developmental journey, is essential.

In both storytelling and foraging, we learn that an appreciation of transitions or threshold moments bring exciting new possibilities.

Weekend by Weekend: what to expect

NOTE: This is an on-going yearly programme. Individual weekends stand on their own, but if you wish to join for the full year programme, you can do so at any weekend

If you'd like to purchase the whole programme (costs less that way) please email me to enquire ferguspd22@hotmail.com

(1st, 2nd, and 3rd weekends described in time order)

4th Weekend- Summer

This is the season of warmth, light, and flowers in their fullness , but it can be hot, dry and unpredictable. Will there be ripe fruit? Are the leaves and roots still good to eat? Perhaps this time calls for spontaneity and foraging flexibility.


Fruit, flowers, pollen, seeds, and bulbs: These are the key botanicals of summer.

When foraging, it is best to embrace and learn to love the elements of wind and rain. Nevertheless, the summertime is an opportunity to relax and play in the sun. This can often bring forth a more creative combining of ingredients too, as well as a more ambling and carefree wandering of forest, stream and hedgerow.

Key botanical characters of the season: Sticky Bob, Jack-by-the-hedge, Ladies Bedstraw, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Mugwort, Elder, wild roses.

Spontaneous Storytelling

Through movement, play and exploration of nature, we will plunge into the world of the unknown, unveiling stories thus far untold. Fun, Fear and freedom come into play but with unexpected helpers on the way, you will explore the edges of things, seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and vice versa, learning to embrace what emerges, whatever form it may take.

1st Weekend- Autumn

This is the season of fungi, the arch-communicators and storytellers: The world wood web mycelially whispering beneath our feet.


Fungi, roots, and seeds: These are the key botanicals of autumn.

Using some excellent fungi identification keys, we will learn how to distinguish the edible and medicinal from the inedible and poisonous species, all the while taking creative inspiration from the incredibly diverse, ephemeral, and beautiful forms of the fungi themselves, as well as their often hidden nature.

Key botanical characters of the season: Hairy Nuts Disco, Slippery Jack, Destroying Angel, Devil's Fingers, King Alfred's Cakes, The Flirt, Dead Moll's Fingers, Plums and Custard.


An Introduction to the Art of Storytelling. During this weekend, you will become more aware of your innate storytelling skills; you will develop a starter tool kit to help you learn and connect with a seasonal folk story, and to craft and share it in your own authentic way. You will learn: how to recall the story in time and space; how to bring your own colour and imagination to the tale; how to launch and land with clarity.

2nd Weekend- Winter

This is the season of inwardness, reflection, stillness and the gathering of lessons hard won, and hard foraged throughout the year.


Roots, fungi, and bark: These are the key botanicals of Winter. Winter foraging is a time for reading the natural world for both tales of what has been, but also what is to come. We will gather and eat as well as craft tales accordingly in terms of times past, time present, and times future.

Key botanical characters of the season: Yellow Legs, Blushing Brackets, Hairy Curtain Crust, Ale Hoof, Coltsfoot, Alexanders, Rosebay Willow herb, Ox-eye Daisy, Tiger's Eye

Biographical Storytelling

Through reflective games in nature, and winter-time musings, we will draw out a fond old memory. It may at first seem of value to no-else, but dust it off and polish it a little, share it round the fire and it may just contain a nugget of soul protein for its listeners. During this weekend, we will learn some tips for biographical storytelling, creating a little distance between us and our story to allow its universal appeal to shine through.

3rd Weekend- Spring

ForagingThis is the season of rising sap, growing light, and awakening senses.

Through sampling the wild delights of the Spring, we will feed our bodies and our imaginations.

Leaves, flower buds, and flowers: These are the key botanicals of spring.

When foraging, our visual sense is key for accurate identification but our senses of touch (e.g: appreciating the texture of fine hairs and veins), smell (e.g: the pungent aroma of garlic), taste (e.g: sharp apple-skin sour of sorrel) and even hearing (e.g: subtle sounds of plants), all play an important part. Using all our senses, we will continue to develop our learning of the 2 vital skills of identification and culinary usage, separating the delicious from the poisonous, and creating pickles, syrups, salads and vegetable side dishes: Some to take home and some for fireside sampling.

Key botanical characters of the season: Hogweed, Bristly Ox-tongue, Silverweed, Bear's Garlic, Pineapple Weed, Goosegrass.

Sensory StorytellingDrawing on the tastes, smells and sounds of Spring and through flexing our imaginative muscles, we will breathe life into a story. We will explore our senses through different playful games and exercises, refreshing our relationship to the emerging bounty of spring. We will then work on putting words to these experiences, striving to close the gap between the living moment and the re-telling. We will then apply this to a selection of creation myths, adding richness and texture to the stories by crafting sensory passages at key moments.

Although the focus of the course will be on exploring the arts of foraging and of storytelling, how they connect, cross pollinate and enrich one another, there will also be other rabbit holes to peer down. Each weekend will involve some fireside sharing and we will gather and bring necessary tinder, while exploring different fire lighting methods, including the bow drill method of fire by friction. The fire is a source of inspiration and warmth with transformative potential for both our wild food and our emerging stories. Songs and nature games will weave their way into the tapestry of our time together, so come along with an open heart and lets make this a delicious journey through the seasons and a story worth the telling.

This course is suitable for both beginner foragers and storytellers as well as those with considerable experience.

(Note, hosted at Emerson College. For a detail of Covid 19 safeguards put in place: http://www.emerson.org.uk/covid-19-student-information)

About your course fascilitators


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.”

Having run wild food courses since 2003, Fergus has naturally told many stories during that process. During 2013 he developed that skill further through completing The Art and Craft of The Storyteller, The International School of Storytelling's flag ship 3 month full-time storytelling course.


In 2014, Arthur trained with WildWise in Environmental and Outdoor education, developing Bushcraft and Firecraft, while deepening his relationship with nature through song, poetry and fireside storytelling. Arthur went on to work as a mentor and Storyteller with various Outdoor Learning providers.

He has since completed a 4 year part-time training in Imaginative movement, play and spatial dynamics. He currently works as a Steiner School teacher, specialising in Games and imaginative movement but also runs storytelling courses for adults, sometimes collaborating with Dramatists and Puppeteers.

Arthur has a love of foraging, fermenting and wild food. Some of his favourites include: Wild Garlic Flower fritters, Elderflower champagne and chicken of the woods sautéed with ginger.


Dear Arthur and Fergus,

Thank you once again for such a wonderful and rich weekend of stories, games, plant knowledge and tasty treats.

This is the second weekend I've attended and both have been unforgettable experiences. Through a rich and engaging mix of story making activities, games, fireside cooking and foraging walks we laughed, played and created feasts of story and food. Fergus and Arthur are excellent facilitators with a wealth of knowledge and experience that they share generously. One of the best courses I've attended and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Warmest wishes to you both,

Alex x

I have just completed the Autumn Foraging & Storytelling course with Fergus and Arthur, and am positively brimming with enthusiasm - both for the teachers and the experience as a whole. I can now say I have an active relationship with the nature on our doorsteps, and it has changed how I see the world. I felt the power of story to transform and transcend my own limitations, shyness and reticence, and further how stories bring down the separation of human and natural world in a healthy way.

I joined because I wanted a better knowledge of the plants and fungi that are around us, and I, as a school teacher, wanted to glean some tips on how to tell better stories in the classroom. I soon found that the course gave so much more than these expectations as we explored overlooked connections between nature and narrative. It was done with such generosity, support and expert guidance that it became a profound experience of connection with the other (stunning) participants. The activities were diverse and playful but with real-world application in terms of cookery, bushcraft as well as this magical capacity for storytelling. I took away a wealth of understanding about edible fungi, berries and even sap, and their central place in our imaginative folk life and traditions. We explored how to find meaning and creativity from the resources in front us which I mostly have completely overlooked.

I surprised myself in crafting stories, finding fresh insights into alluring, dynamic storytelling that will apply to so many situations and areas of life, ultimately reaching our deepest questions of what it means to be human and our role in the world. I cannot recommend the course enough, it offers everyone with an interest in building practical and emotional resilience, a supportive and enriching environment. In the company of accomplished and newbies alike, I was able to overcome my chronic shyness and fear of speaking in a group to actually enjoy holding space and delivering stories. This is fundamentally a course to improve your life, inner and outer - and the lives of those around you through beautiful, poignant stories and wild, wild food!


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Date and time


Emerson College

RH18 5JX

Forest Row

RH18 5JX

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund policy

Contact the organiser to request a refund.

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

Organiser Fergus Drennan aka Fergus The Forager

Organiser of Crafting Stories And Foraging Food

Fergus Drennan is a wild food experimentalist and educator who, for the past 15 years, has run informative and fun regular full-day total immersion foraging courses for the general public and privately. He has written regularly on wild food and foraging for BBC Countryfile Magazine, The Ecologist, Country Kitchen, Bushcraft and Survival Skills Magazine, as well as contributing and/or featuring in many other magazines including most national newspapers. In addition he made a TV programme, The Roadkill Chef, for Jamie Oliver’s production company, exploring some more extreme food alternatives. He regularly appears on radio and television talking about wild food. He loves all aspects of wild food and yet is particularly fascinated with seaweeds. As a result he made an hour-long programme for Tokyo TV in Japan in 2016 exploring the art of nori cultivation and nori sheet making.
Lucia Stuart 

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