The Grizzly Forager website has been a labour of love over the past eighteen months or so! But I never really intended to create a website about foraging with kids, at all. On the contrary, foraging has been a very personal journey for me from realising that I wasn't spending enough time with my beautiful family, to tentatively exploring the wilds with Arthur, to really discovering how wonderful it can be not just as a fascinating hobby, but as a means of improving my wellbeing and connecting with those I love, as well as the land around me.
Prior to getting into foraging properly, as a busy wedding photographer, my weekends were taken up with shoots and my weekdays were consumed by editing and the running of a small business. I loved Arthur dearly, but often found that the time I dedicated purely to being with him was very sporadic, which would often lead me to worry about our relationship. Although I was very proud of the photography business I had built, I came to realise that I was actually very unhappy because I wasn't spending nearly enough time with this wonderful little boy. I was missing him growing up and I needed to do something to make sure my connection with him was strong and meaningful. I tried hard to make some changes to the way I ran my business, which thankfully gave me more free time, and decided I wanted to use this time to do something with him on a regular basis that the two of us could share together. I had fond memories of foraging for blackberries with my Nan as a child, so decided that I would take Arthur out to forage for bilberries in the forest were we lived and see how we liked it. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we packed a rucksack full of sandwiches and headed out into the wilderness together, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Foraging has created something magical for me - a space to create bonds, learn and have fun together. Arthur is my foraging buddy, and our relationship has so much more value than I ever thought possible. Foraging gave me the ability to connect with my family in a very meaningful way and I now know that I absolutely wouldn't change it for the world. It was only after discovering this that I thought that other parents could certainly benefit from having connections like this, too, and the idea of making a website flittered around my mind. I already had a huge body of photographs of Arthur foraging (and of our finds) and used these to created an Instagram account for friends and family, which other people seemed to love as well, and as followers grew and suggestions starting coming in for maybe writing a book, or making a website, I started to give the idea some more thought, before eventually taking the plunge.
After doing more research relating to the benefits of foraging, and drawing upon what I'd learned since starting, I started to piece together how the website would flow, look and feel. I really wanted it to be simple and inspirational - it is designed to entice parents into foraging after all - so needed to be newby-friendly, accessible, and easy to get into; but I also wanted it to have a particular aesthetic that fits-in with my photography style; simple and clean, with beautiful images that hopefully would inspire. The result is largely how you see it today, with two basic parts - a "how to forage with kids" section, and a basic, child-friendly catalogue of wild plants, flowers, berries, nuts, and mushrooms, as well as some recipe suggestions. There's other bumfy stuff in there, too, such as quotes, quick-guides and FAQs, but ultimately, it's just a simple introductory guide to foraging that I hope people can make use of, even if they don't have children to take with them.
What I really, really want, is for people to see what Arthur and I get up to and be inspired to go out and do it themselves with their kids. Even with limited plant knowledge, we can still get out into the wilds and collect basics with our kids, like Blackberries or Elderflowers, and make some mean pies, puddings and desserts with these. You honestly don't need to be an expert forager - providing you follow the simple Golden Rules for keeping safe, you can start an amazing foraging journey, with nothing more than a child in one hand and a carrier-bag in the other. You just need a bit of reassurance and motivation and a place to learn a bit more once you've got the bug, which are hopefully things that the website can offer.