by Poppy Nicol
The eighth, final session of the Ediculture 2022 course was all about nature connection. Located on the north-east of the edible culture wheel, the session focused on the idea that returning to our senses reminds us that we are all interconnected to and part of the ecosystems around us.
Hosted on a hot July day, we were grateful to be amongst the dappled shade and cooling breeze offered by the Coed woods.
We began the session in the Woodland Classroom with a grounding meditation which encouraged us to tune in to our senses. As we closed our eyes, we were encouraged to focus on what we could hear and and which direction the sound was coming from. As we opened our eyes, returning to the spot and fed back on our experiences of the exercises, it was interesting to learn of both the common ground and the subtle differences in terms of what each of us noticed in the meditation. The call and response of some birds singing, the wind rustling through the trees to the east and an aeroplane passing overhead.
Everything is connected
The course tutor and founder of Ediculture, Stephen Watts explained that this final ediculture session emerged from the feeling that ecology and connection to the environments around us is a vital part of edible culture - whether foraging or cultivating food or choosing what to cook or what herb to pick. It was also connected to the sense that we are nourished by more than food. That we can be nourished by all of our senses - including sight, sound, taste, touch and scent. And, that the more we are connected to things, the more we will care for them.
Walking with awareness
We then prepared for a slow walk through the woods where we were invtied to walk silently and with awareness, tuning into our senses. As we edged closer to the beech woods, we did a group exercise in walking with awareness. All of us asides from the appointed group 'guide' put on a blindfold and stood in a line, asides from the leader at the front, we placed one hand on the shoulder of the person ahead. The 'guide' at the front then walked backwards and guided the leader of the line to walk slowly ahead and others were invited to follow the footsteps of the person ahead and the feeling of movement. This was an interesting exercise where we became a collective caterpillar. It really helped us tune into the sensations we were feeling underfoot and the movement of the person ahead and the words of the guide. When we reflected on our experience of the exercise, it was interesting to note that all of us felt that it really helped us focus in on the present.
We continued walking and eventually arrived at an area of beech trees. We sat down and Stephen introduced the idea of a 'Sit Spot'.
A Sit Spot is based on the idea of finding a place to sit that is easy to get to that supports nature connection. Ideally less than two minutes away from where you live, it can be a place where you go to sit for a while and spend some time sitting with awareness of the surroundings. Picking the same spot means that you can watch it change through the seasons and get to tknow the ecological community residing within it. We practiced in the Beech woods and spent 20 minutes just sitting and observing.
.It was interesting to note that everyone's experience was different. Some people had a connection with the movement of the trees. Others noticed bird activity. All of us felt very relaxed when we returned!
To conclude, Stephen encouraged us to find a routine in our lives which supports nature connection - whether it is going everyday for a walk in nature or sitting in the same spot. These core routines can help us slow down and brng awareness to the present moment.
Maybe you might like to try finding a sit spot!
With huge thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales for making this workshop possible.