This course is an evolution and extension of our previous plantlore courses. You will learn the core subjects of plant families, identification, plantlore, and the myriad uses for plants and trees. However, ‘Plants with a Purpose’ is also a practical course of making and doing. Each day of this four-day course will focus an a particular area of traditional plant uses: plant fibres and weaving, natural dyes, brewing and fermenting and wild medicines.
Plants can provide us with everything we need both for survival, and for a comfortable, healthy life. Since the earliest humans, plants have played a vital role in our existence, not only for food but for every other aspect of life. Plants are still used today in so many household items we buy in the shops and in medicines but our interaction with the plant has become almost entirely detached. In the western world there has been an increasing loss of knowledge of the plants that surround us every day. Our course is named in homage to Richard Mabey’s wonderful book of the same name that got both Debs and Ben started on their journeys as children in the 1980s. This course aims to reconnect you with ancient, traditional and fascinating knowledge.
By opening our eyes and minds to the plants that surround us everyday, we deepen our connection with nature and it’s riches. By understanding their value and uses we will come to love and nurture wild plants rather than thinking of them as weeds. This is essential for the protection of our planet and it’s biodiversity as well as enriching our own lives.
Throughout the course we will be making use of wild plants as well as those of our extensive, but young, collection at Oak Howe. Over the past few years we have planted over 300 species specifically for their practical uses. You should be able to harvest many of the plants you will be using during the course. There are a multitude of uses for roots, bark, leaves, resin, mosses, fungi, lichens and flowers. We will explore as much as there is time for.
We will touch on all aspects of our human use of plants and focus in on particular areas of interest. You will learn which plants are best for bindings and cordage as well as a variety of quick, effective weaving techniques for making containers. We will look at household uses for plants such as soaps, insect-repellents, brushes, fire-starting, tools and glues. We will focus a day on wild dyeing – you will be able to experiment with the effects of numerous different plants on cloth or fibre, and learn skills to take away and experiment with further. Brewing and the use of natural ferments is another area that enriches life and is fun to know more about, as well as being useful for food preservation. Herbal medicine is an age-old area of plant use. On this course we will touch the surface of this extensive, complex area of study and you will learn to make a number of simple remedies to take away with you.
‘Plants with a Purpose’ is packed with information, practical knowledge and skills… This is definitely a course where you will be glad of your notebook.
- Plant and tree identification
- Plant walk
- Core plant families
- Wild edibles
- Native/survival plant use
- Historical uses – from ancient times to present day
- Plant Folklore
- Natural dyes
- Household uses
- Weaving/cordage plants
- Brewing and fermenting
- Simple herbal medicines
- Recognising poisonous plants, trees and fungi
- This course is fully catered throughout – we do our best to source food that is wild, local, organic, seasonal and nutritious. (This negates the need to buy food and bring stoves, fuel and cooking gear – it also maximises your learning time with us).
- Camping fees are included.
- We offer a complimentary pick-up and drop-off service from and to the nearest railway station at set times.