General

A small business and van living

I’ve had a few questions and conversations recently about what it is like to run Wild Fen from our van and so I wanted to talk a bit more about it today.

We set up Wild Fen from our rented home in our beloved Fens a few years ago. Our intention first and foremost was to share and celebrate our love for the natural world. Since then we left our home and our full time jobs, sold our belongings, bought a van and converted it into a home for us to live a slower life, closer to nature, creating natural incense, jewellery and prints.

We moved into our van in March this year and since then have been transitioning our life, possessions and business into it as we explore the UK.

It’s been an ongoing process of learning and adjustment. From a work perspective we set up our printer, laptops and tools to run on our solar electricity (being savvy with when we charge things especially with sunlight hours decreasing now), battling with limited Internet and finding space for our packaging and supplies has required selectivity, patience and flexibility on a daily basis! More generally adjusting to a completely new way of living has taken its toll on us emotionally and energetically at times too.

And yet for us, this option allows us to work full time on a business that we love. It means we can spend most of our days in nature, exploring, learning and creating which we do remind ourselves of often, like the times we can’t move without standing on a packaging box.

Being closer to nature each day has inspired us to form even deeper connections with trees which led to the creation of our Wild Jewellery in the Summer. It is not a straight forward or particularly convenient life in many ways. Living in a van requires creativity and patience, jobs take longer, water needs to be topped up and heated on the stove, space is extremely limited, airflow is a constant consideration, and vans break down often at the worst times.

It has taken the best part of the year to feel as though we have found more flow working this way, but as Winter approaches, there is no doubt we will be met with more challenges to adjust to. And yet as I sign off this blog, sat in the doorway overlooking the Wye valley, a Buzzard is calling over head and I have a calm feeling inside that tells me, it will be worth it.

Foraging

The Intuitive Art of Foraging

It has been an interesting foraging year for us. I have found myself feeling incredibly drawn to collecting certain plants – wild rose early on in the year, mugwort throughout the summer and wild oats as the summer progressed. There have also been other plants that despite their abundance and potential, for one reason or another we didn’t forage many/any this year – elderflower and rosehips stand out as two.

When I first began to discover just how many nutritious and healing plants grow all around us, life became an exciting and busy journey of researching, learning and (sustainably) hunting for plant treasure. Each walk would be an opportunity to gather some free food and medicine and we would spend our evenings experimenting with recipes and ways to preserve our harvest for the months ahead.

In those early years, I sometimes found myself gathering frantically, scared of missing a ripe and abundant patch of something that could have been stored for teas, or made into some healing potion. Experiencing a sense of fear at the thought of having to wait a whole year for its return if I missed a harvest.

What I have learned throughout this journey is that foraging takes time. It isn’t necessarily the finding and gathering of plants that takes too long, although sometimes multiple visits to a plant may be required to harvest it at its peak ripeness. It is the cleaning, preparing, drying and processing of plants in different ways that takes both time, energy and patience. Removing individual berries or flowers from stems, infusing and straining oils and vinegars, sterilising jars and equipment is a real labour of love (and occasionally hate- the sterilising part anyway!)

A life of foraging isn’t one of convenience necessarily. It takes time and the reward is vast. Slowing down and leaning towards a more intuitive way of gathering what we are drawn to maintains my enthusiasm and energy. I feel excitement at the possibilities of next year as I sync more with the pace of nature.

I would love to know if you can relate to the feeling of missing a plant harvest and what you have found yourself drawn to this year?