Foraging Fortnight: Events

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LO C AT I O N | 05

I N S P I R AT I O N | 06

L EG I S L AT I O N | 08



E VA LU AT I O N | 10



INTRODUCTION This toolkit aims to provide you with the information and guidance you need to host a safe and successful foraging event. It covers the different aspects of planning and delivery to consider and includes a template to adapt for your own use. It also shows you how to evaluate your event and learn what works well, as well as what can be adapted or improved for any future events. Foraging events can introduce people to some of the most breath-taking parts of Scotland while enjoying the many benefits of wild plants and foraging. There are numerous benefits to running a foraging event, from supporting health and wellbeing, sustainable tourism, access to natural environment, creative activities, storytelling, promoting local food and drink, and supporting other rural businesses. Events can range from coastal foraging to herbal wellness; wild food feasts to fireside evenings and topical talks. It’s an ideal opportunity to discover the delicious and useful species on your doorstep or discover unknown areas: from the rolling hills of Lanarkshire and southern Scotland, the golden beaches and fields of Fife, the mountains and coast of Moray, the woodlands and lochs of Forth Valley and Lomond to the diverse islands of Orkney to the north.

Why run a foraging or wild food event?

• To encourage engagement with our natural environment and further the understanding of responsible foraging and wild foods. • To offer a wild food experience or a special ‘taste of place’ menu to excite your customers. To • offer something new to local people and attract visitors from further afield. • To celebrate our rural areas. • To offer an inspiring activity suitable for various age groups and physical abilities. To • offer a mix of events that link foraging to health and wellbeing, crafts, wild food and appreciation and connection with our landscape. • To enable new collaborations with other local businesses. • We hope you enjoy the experience and foraging becomes a regular part of your calendar.


PLANNING Things to consider when deciding to run a forage themed event: Will the event work within your existing business model?

Are there additional associated costs or can it be managed within existing budget?

How about collaborating with a local business? This could be an ideal time to join forces with a local foraging expert and link in with related crafts.

Decide how you wish to engage with one or more themes: wild foods, nature, crafts, health and wellbeing.


What are your goals...?

• Brand awareness in your locale and beyond? • A healthy profit? • To collaborate and make new contacts? • To raise awareness of the natural /environmental resources in

your area. To • engage more with nature at home and work. • To attract new customers with an exciting new ‘wild’ experience or product. • To support the health and wellbeing of your community.

• Environmental education.Ensure you make realistic plans, using your local knowledge to your best advantage.

Ensure you make realistic plans and use your local knowledge to your best advantage.

The benefits to you in participating…

• An opportunity to develop or increase your confidence in using wild sourcing as a useful resource. • Creating new and diversified business opportunities previously unexplored. • Potential increase in sales. • Increased awareness of your brand. • Marketing and promotional opportunities. • Networking with other local businesses. • Openings to potential new markets and customer base. • An additional opportunity to contact your existing customers with news. • Potential media opportunities for your business.

Event planner template: Feel free to use this template as a planning resource and edit it as necessary to cover what is relevant for your event, or create your own template

Your enthusiasm and engagement will be in direct correlation with the benefits you see from this initiative – and it’s a very positive message of wellbeing and nature.


PLANNING FOR YOUR FORAGING EVENT Not everything listed will be relevant to your event however it will give you good idea of what to cover. PLANNING & PREPARATION









Form a planning group Decide date(s) of event Decide on venue, confirm availability & book Check availability of external facilitators/presenters Contact local Council (where appropriate) to inform Contact local Council Licensing Team if alcohol involved Contact local Council Licensing Team if alcohol involved Decide your budget Notify any necessary services (for larger events): Police Scotland and Scottish Fire, Rescue Service, St John’s Ambulance Plan your marketing & promotion DEVELOPING EVENT Check all booking details in place Apply for any permissions & licenses (w/a) Check insurance for your event Finalise any promotion & marketing plans Arrange First Aid cover (w/a) Secure volunteers for your event (w/a) Finalise any publicity material Ensure your event is listed on your website Use social media to promote your event Send reminders out to all taking part 06

Complete Risk Assessment - include a cancellation policy for emergencies Consider creating participant feedback forms/comments book NEARLY THERE!













Meet with key people to review plan Confirm staffing requirements/volunteers Book photographer/charge your camera battery Release an advance press release Maintain good communications with all involved Maintain social media and web updates Check the weather forecast for outdoor events THE DAY OF THE EVENT Check health & safety aspects Final Risk Assessment review Brief staff/volunteers Keep relevant contact details to hand POST EVENT Leave venue as you found it Balance all finances, keeping a written record Send out letters/e-mails of thanks Obtain feedback/quotes from participants if not already gathered Invite feedback from your team for future events Produce & distribute a press release about its success thanking the public for their support 07

L O C AT I O N Festivals are a perfect opportunity to reflect your natural environment and promote your local landscape and countryside. If you have your own venue, this is an ideal opportunity to either embellish what you already do to accommodate the theme(s), or stretch your boundaries to create something different using your existing resources. Consider what assets you have to hand and plan accordingly e.g. garden or yurts, barn or woodland, courtyard, conservatory or studio.


Your assets may also be your staff: a keen forager, weaver, rambler, nature lover or artist who could participate in an on-site activity. Think outside your usual box!

• It is important to be familiar with the area if you are planning an event outdoors – on your own land or by prior arrangement nearby. • Please give due diligence to accessibility, first aid, health and safety, and social distancing. Access points are very important for emergency vehicles. Decide on a maximum number of participants who can safely • and comfortably take part. • Have a plan for car parking, whether there is a requirement for toilet facilities and/or refuse collection as applicable if outdoors. • Consider whether you need additional help. Now is the time to decide if you need volunteer(s)/paid staff to assist you in running your event. Scotland is beautiful but the weather can be unpredictable, • so do have a Plan B in mind if your event is due to take place outside. • Is the land well-drained if there has been rain or will it be boggy?

• Given the nature of foraging, it can be tricky to ensure that

everyone can access your events but there are many opportunities to consider accessible routes for wheelchairs. This is also good if your event is aimed at families and people with pushchairs. • You may wish to host a virtual event, making use of the great range of IT options now available – such as an interactive Zoom session or setting up a YouTube channel – and staging workshops online.


W I L D I N S P I R AT I O N Here are some ideas to prompt your imagination for your events. This is by no means a comprehensive list. A foraging event is an ideal opportunity to adapt your existing business to embrace elements from nature or go wild and try something completely different!


Here are a few suggestions:

• Take your phone into nature and photograph foraged elements

in situ for a set of informative table cards for your venue. • Organise an orchard / kitchen garden / woodland walk on your premises for a wellbeing experience. Alternatively, film a walk and publish online for a virtual experience. • Collaborate with a trained forager to offer a guided adventure. • Organise an art class on your premises in collaboration with a tutor. Get • in touch with your local school or college – collaborate with the art department to offer dyeing or weaving. Foraged plants can give natural dyes and fibres, textures and aromas. • Link with existing community groups e.g. walkers, and offer a venue for an event with them. • Search online for a local artisan soap-maker that would like to host an event or workshop with you and use foraged ingredients. Coastal venues could link with a seaweed forager and explore • the abundance of uses for seaweed. Link with a local gardening club and highlight the benefits of seaweed as a natural fertiliser.

• Link with a yoga trainer or wellbeing professional to offer forest

bathing or relaxation in nature. • Many crafts link with foraged materials: basket weaving, batik dyes, art panels, nettle fibres for fabric and branches for whisks. • A collage workshop can form the basis of a marvellous foraging experience using mosses and twigs, shells and seed pods Offer a half-day event around any workshop or retreat, with • relaxation / foraging yoga /drawing flora / photography - plus lunch. • If your venue lends itself to a festival then link with local beers, a botanical gin, local musicians and foragers for a day /night /weekend to rememberartist /photographer and build on your meal experience with another related theme, creating a half-day event around a workshop or retreat, with relaxation / foraging / yoga / drawing flora / photography … plus luncheon. • If your venue lends itself to a festival then link with local beers, a botanical gin, local musicians and foragers for a day /night / weekend to remember.

Don’t forget to photograph whatever you decide to host for all that social media coverage. Many of these events can be outdoors in nature and not linked to a venue however remember to get permission if it is not your own land.


L E G I S L AT I O N Better safe than sorry If you run a business, you will already be aware of ensuring everyone involved in your event is safe, in accordance with The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). As the event organiser, this is your responsibility and you will need to have current Public Liability Insurance in place. If any food is being served, you must also have a Food Hygiene Certificate for food handlers and your premises registered with your local Council. Now is also the time to consider whether or not you are planning to allow participants to sample foods in the wild or eat foraged foods you have prepared safely. Guided walks are one thing but for more extensive identification and sampling, it’s advisable to use a professional forager. Please see the Hospitality Toolkit for further information for Food Events. Risk assessment: A review of potential hazards is required by law and may already be standard practice in your establishment, however you may need an additional HACCP for a one-off event. Hand-washing facilities or bactericidal wipes should also be part of your planning as participants may be handling soil then food, for example, or clambering over rocks, using gates or styles. 12

Specific crafts/activities: Certain crafts or activities may require specific risk assessment to prevent injuries. For example, soap-making may use ingredients that some people are allergic to. Some participants may be at risk of injury from taking part in the exercises included in yoga, so the event organiser will need to risk assess to take account of this.

‘Come Foraging’ and the ‘BSBI Code of Conduct’ are very helpful guides to foraging. Both are available to download on If in doubt, don’t touch!

Alcohol: Remember to contact your local Council if you are planning an event outwith your normal business hours or usual working practices. If alcohol is involved there are strict regulations and it is wise to check. Be Aware: Whilst foraging activities can be exciting to take part in, it is important to remember that your participants and customers will have very differing degrees of knowledge: some may be experts whereas others might not know a nettle from a spruce shoot. You are responsible for them while they are with you so be sure of your identification – be safe.


RESPONSIBILITY Foraging is a great way to spend time in nature, learn about the landscape around you and find free and healthy foraged food to enhance your wellbeing. Following the general principles set out below should help ensure that your foraging is responsible and unobtrusive. These guidelines are aimed at people foraging for their own use, rather than those wishing to forage commercially. The Association of Foragers has an excellent guide for those wishing to supply businesses with foraged materials. Be aware that this guidance and website is not designed to help you identify species. You should always check anything you are unsure of in a good plant identification guide and ideally, crossreference it with a second or third source. Safety First If you have any reservations about a species that you are trying to identify, do not harvest or consume that plant. Safety is paramount when you are foraging, some plants and fungi are deadly and can resemble friendly counterparts, so only forage what you are completely confident in your identification of. If you are at all unsure, leave well alone!


Protect and Preserve Be selective about what you harvest. Please bear in mind that any plants that you gather could be an important food or habitat source for animals and insects. Pick only what you will use, only harvest plentiful species and do not take everything from one plant, tree or area. Be mindful and do not harvest any unusual or rare plant from an area. When gathering, try to spread out over a larger area rather than exhausting one particular spot and if it’s clear that other people have already foraged in the same place then try to move elsewhere. This will allow the area to recover for future harvesting and a healthy eco-system. Try to avoid excessive trampling of plants or soil. Step carefully and enjoy your surroundings. Woodland, Field and Hill If you are picking in an area used by livestock, stay well away from animals with young offspring, as they can be very territorial and protective. We advise that you avoid areas that are heavily used by dog walkers.

If you are gathering in an environment with a water supply which is close to livestock, be sure to correctly wash and cook any picked plants. Some plants such as watercress have a risk of liver fluke unless they are boiled. Be sure to research the correct preparation method for foraged foods, depending on the area from where you have harvested. Coastal Be aware of changing weather and tidal patterns. You don’t want to be caught out by a rising tide if you are foraging on the seashore. If you are gathering seaweed, cutting rather than pulling the plant will leave the headfast still attached to the rock and able to regrow.

Find out more We encourage you to read some excellent guides that have been created by other foragers about the craft so that you can enjoy harvesting wild plants fully. Foraging in Scotland for your own use is permitted under responsible access legislation in Scotland. It is important to note that this right also comes with responsibilities, which are further explained with more information at

Invasive Species Certain species such as Japanese knotweed are invasive and it is illegal to cause them to spread. Please ensure that you are familiar with your legal obligations, before foraging any invasive plant species. Do also be aware that invasive species may have been treated (sprayed to eradicate it, for example). This may make them unsuitable and potentially harmful to foragers.


MARKETING & PR Promoting your event need not incur costs as there are so many opportunities to do so for free:

• Announcements at local meetings. • Community billboards /corner shop windows . • Social media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. • Contact your existing database via email – and this is an

opportunity to expand it by approaching other specific target groups /organisations /workplaces. Adults / families / youth groups. • Maximise word of mouth – spread the word! • Be generous when out on social media – support others and they in turn will tag /retweet your event. • Photography and informality are winners on social media. Promote your event along with key information on where, when, how much (where applicable) and contact details / weblink for booking. When using other people’s photographs remember Copyright • laws apply or you may receive an unexpected invoice from a photographer if you use someone’s picture without their permission! • A digital version of a marketing toolkit for foraging events with detailed guidance on getting the word out is also available. It can be found at


E VA L U AT E After your event, a debriefing with members of the team can be really productive. A report on your event should include challenges that arose, how they were dealt with, and how best to mitigate them in the future For you own benefit and future planning you will also wish to evaluate its success by:

• Encouraging tagging of your social media posts on Instagram,

Twitter, Facebook etc. in order to quantify the success of your communication strategy. • Follow up your event with your existing contacts email database, adding new contacts from the event, and invite feedback/include a newsletter reporting on the event. Google your own event! It is surprising how often you can • find interesting blogs or regional mentions when you seek them out Remember to look under ‘images’ too. • If your event does not lend itself to a paper questionnaire then gather information verbally from your guests for noting down afterwards. • Photography and written records can be invaluable for planning future events, either to promote them or as a useful aid to simply recall how you went organising a previous event. It can sometimes even be used as evidence to assist you source funding for another activity being held in your region.


FORAGING IN SCOTLAND GUIDANCE Useful documents to assist your planning: Foraging Fortnight

Food hygiene training and related advice:

Outdoor Access Code

In 2019/20 Foraging Fortnight celebrated Scotland’s natural environment and wild food with a series of events across Fife, Moray, Lanarkshire, Orkney and the Forth Valley and Lomond, all funded by LEADER with Nature Scot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) support.

The SSC Code Wild Food The-SSC-Code-for-Web.pdf General Foraging Guidance, recipes and information Legal guidelines


Foraging in Scotland

This project has funded this range of toolkits along with videos as a legacy to encourage you to continue to enjoy Scotland’s rural landscape through responsible foraging.

@foragingfortnight/ /foragingfortnight/ @ForagingF

Photos ©Chris Watt Photography ©Gerardo Jaconelli ©Selena Kuzman Design by Arken Creative

This toolkit was produced using Scottish Government and EU LEADER programme funds with support from NatureScot, as part of Foraging Fortnight. The project encourages you to enjoy Scotland’s rural landscape through responsible foraging and adherence to the Outdoor Access Code. Scottish Rural Development Programme

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