With few wild plants surviving the UK’s recent dry weather, we’ve been forced to cancel our latest foraging class - it’s a worrying sign for all of us
Today this South Downs meadow is full of dry grasses (pic 2018)
Last summer the same meadow was full of wild herbal plants like Yarrow, Wild Carrot, Knapweed, Agrimony, Eyebright, and much more (pic 2017)
We’ve just cancelled a Foraging and Health class.
Six weeks of no rain have left the South Downs parched, with very few wild herbal plants to be found on the chalk grasslands where we planned to be walking.
I’ve spent the day on the phone to herbalist Lucinda Warner trying to decide what to do.
We talk about options but the land is just too dry to forage.
“There’s a few small examples of Plantain and Yarrow up there,” she tells me, but, “no St John’s Wort, no Agrimony, no Mugwort, no Eyebright…”
Nothing like the abundance of wild flowers we’ve found over the past few summers.
Staff from Matchbox Mobile show how it's done, aceing the team fire lighting challenge, one task at a time.
Great feedback from our foraging and wild food session for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce this eve. Thanks to @forage_brighton for yummy wild canapés.
Take advantage of the warm weather to hold your team away day in the Great Outdoors. Taking your team into nature has lots of benefits.
An away day in the wild builds camaraderie and team spirit
A few weeks ago we ran an away day for the UK Green Building Council, a passionate and busy organisation who advocate for a better built environment.
We got their team of twenty to connect around the fire, take an inspiring tour of the Brighton Earthship, and do some whittling and foraging.
Usually based in an office in London, the activities and time together in nature really worked - Julie Hirigoyen their CEO wrote that the day gave them a “palpable sense of calm and togetherness which is still with us a week later.”
Bringing the Meeting Room to the Woods: Exploring the Future of Medicine at a Horizon Scanning Workshop in the Wild
The Academy of Medical Sciences delve into the future of medical research at an innovation away day workshop around the fire
All pictures: Academy of Medical Sciences
Who are they?
The Academy of Medical Sciences is a fellowship of 1,200 of the UK’s best medical science researchers working at universities and hospitals across the UK, with a mission to improve health through research.
Looking at the future of medicine
It’s March 2018, and the Academy are running a series of Horizon Scanning workshops across the UK to look at the future of medicine over the next 30 years.
The workshops are bringing the Academy’s fellows and grant awardees together with curious creatives from various research disciplines, to explore what areas of medical research and innovation will have the greatest impact on society by 2048 (when the Academy turns 50).
The Academy have asked School of the Wild to host the Brighton workshop - the idea is to hold it away from the usual world of universities and hospitals, in an environment not normally connected to research, to inspire attendees to think more broadly about the future.
Futures consultant Oliver Grant is leading the sessions with support from Academy of Medical Science (AMS) staff, and writers and graphic visualisers who record the conversations.
A very enjoyable day, Making Sense of Place with land care specialist Charlie Brennan. Hearing everyone's stories about what place means to them is inspiring, and makes you realise we're all migrants.
How wild gardening land regeneration walking meditation and remembering is essential for bringing ourselves and the world back to #balance.
Social ecologists Dr Charlie Brennan and Bridget OBrien show how.
Tickets available here.
Sun 1st July. Tickets available here
A week of journeys. Over the #southdowns through #fields of wheat. Day and #night. Inspired by #virginiawoolf #skylarks metaphors and #conservation champions.
Sundown at the start of a magical night walk #nightwalk #schoolofthewild #southdowns #tiltonhouse #pilgrimage
How fresh air can lead to fresh thinking and why that's important if we're to reframe our ideas about today's challenges
Dialogue and conversation are integral to every business. Despite the wave of new apps and technologies that offer better business processes at a click of a button, a fundamental element to any successful business is still face-to-face communication.
Innovation, strategy, creation, and implementation are all human-centred processes that rely on people talking to each other.
And with flexible hours, the increase in time spent in front of screens, and the demands of city life, it's never been more important to get teams communicating and working at their best.
With workplace relationships being so very important, more and more organisations are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of team dynamics, and are taking steps to improve company culture to create the conditions for better conversations.
A 2017 report by Mazars found that culture is one of the top three priorities for company boards, and that the importance of corporate culture to business success is an area of growing strategic importance.
However, with virtually all employers thinking about improving conversations in the office, at School of Wild we believe getting out of the office might be a better option.
Nilofer Merchant, author and business innovator, spoke about the benefits of outdoor meetings in a TED Talk in 2013. She found a direct link for how walking meetings can change how we think: “Fresh air drives fresh thinking,” she says, and delivers some scary statistics about the health risks of spending too long indoors to back it up.
“Nowadays people are sitting 9.3 hours a day, which is more then we’re sleeping,” she says. “Sitting is so incredibly prevalent we don’t even question how much we’re doing it, and because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us it’s not okay.”
But it’s not just health risks that can be reduced by getting outdoors. As Merchant found, going outside brought benefits to conversations too.
She explains, “There is this amazing thing about getting out of the box that leads to out of the box thinking, whether it’s nature or the exercise itself, it certainly works.”
And the science is there to confirm it. One study discovered that simply being exposed to office plants can boost employee wellbeing and productivity by 15%, which gives an inkling into the dramatic benefits that being outdoors can bring.
According to another study by the University of Kansas, being absorbed in nature can help increase creative problem-solving ability by as much as 50%.
With the multitude of distractions that office screens and phones give, it’s no wonder that getting away from the office is a good way to change a conversation.
Sunflower cheese hogweed and garlic mustard krauts and more by @forage_brighton at our brilliant #Wild #Fermentation class today.
Spending time in nature is a powerful way to boost your employees' wellbeing, and has a dramatic effect on creative thinking and team cohesion, by Liz Naven
In the past few years, workplace wellbeing has become a staple of the modern office. Prompted by research demonstrating the inextricable link between employee happiness and productivity, organisations are placing serious attention on initiatives to improve employees’ experience at work, inspired by forward-thinking companies such as Google and Zappos.
Although your company may not have a budget as large as these tech giants, chances are you're looking to replicate the same positive company culture with practical alternatives that make employee wellbeing a priority.
Flexible working hours, on-site massage and fitness classes, and duvet days are just some of the perks you might already be offering in a bid to increase employee happiness, engagement, and productivity.
The results are usually worth the effort: organisations with properly-designed wellbeing programs enjoy large financial returns, amongst other competitive advantages. For example, according to research from Harvard Business Review, Johnson & Johnson's wellness programs cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs, with a return of $2.71 for every $2 spent, between 2002 to 2008.
Yet could you be overlooking the most effective activity for wellbeing? To create a positive workforce full of high-performing employees, you may just need to send your team outdoors.
Being outdoors in nature has a dramatic range of benefits, for both physical and mental health. Time spent outdoors boosts mood and energy, improves attention and encourages connection and community.
If your business is to prioritise the wellbeing of your employees and improve workplace productivity, getting them to spend time in nature as part of their working life can be a vital piece of the process.
Here's a short video from the foraging session we did in Brighton, in March this year, with Mike the Forager.
Been given the task of arranging a team away day and wondering where to start?
Our outdoor team away days in the wild are the perfect way to bring people together.
An away day outdoors in nature has lots of benefits - including dramatic impacts on creative and innovative thinking, and decision making. Plus time in nature is a great leveller and breaks down personal barriers, making it much easier to connect with each other.
We cater for groups of various sizes from 6 to 35 in the Brighton and Sussex countryside, and we'll help you arrange your team away day with ideas that suit your specific needs.
From a foraging walkshop to a creative campfire, we listen to what you want, share ideas and put our planning expertise into practice. You get an away day tailored to achieve your desired outcome.
There are plenty of options to explore, from facilitated conversations to bonding exercises. We have covered spaces in case of bad weather and all our team away days are designed with one purpose in mind - to keep your team effective and energised.
So leave everything to us, you can just relax and enjoy the experience.
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.