It’s international forest day – and now that the Humans of Hospitality podcast is almost at it’s 65th episode, we’ve been taught a lot about forests from some of our passionate guests that spend a lot, if not all, their time amongst the trees.
So to celebrate, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favourite guests who love or live amongst the forests of the UK… and reflect on what they have taught us.
Episode 53 – Andrew Parry Norton, New Forest Commoner
Andrew is lucky enough to be living in one of the most beautiful and diverse areas in the UK – The New Forest. He explains how the heathlands of the commons has years of history, and “is apparently rarer than the amazon rainforest” [00:06:06].
Commoners have a sense of duty to look after their forests, and Andrew’s animals are some of many that help to manage the forests eco-system. We also discover how, and even more fascinatingly, why, we are seeing the return of regional native breeds such as Ruby Red cattle and Saddleback pigs.
Andrew is also part of the New Forest Marque that helps him, and other commoners alike, sell his high quality and niche product and keep his farm in the forest in business. They support artisan and traditional approaches to famring. Andrew has “become a localist” [01:05:35], and even admits to have a love affair for his cows that are specifically suited to the environment and are lucky enough to graze on the forest floors.
In Andrew Parry Norton’s episode, you can learn so much about the New Forest, it’s history and the animals (and passionate humans) that inhabit it.
Episode 29 – James Golding and The Pig Restaurants with Rooms
One of Andrew’s neighbours is award winning restaurant with rooms: The Pig. The Pig has multiple beautiful locations within the UK, but a notable location discussed with James Golding is The Pig in Brockenhurst, the New Forest.
James Golding is Chef Director at The Pig. The Pig’s food philosophy is all about sourcing “80% of everything that’s on the menu from within a 25-mile radius”, and what they cannot source “they produce” themselves [00:23:38].
From working with Mark Hix at La Caprice to being trained at the Savoy… James grew up in the New Forest, therefore it’s not surprising after moving to London at just 16, he was happy to come back with masses of experience under his belt.
This has also meant that foraging is a massive part of The Pig’s menu and has always been a big part of James’ life. It is not only a source of free food, but it’s health benefits are extraordinary… He even goes out foraging with his family.
Episode 59 – John Rensten and Forage London
Speaking of foraging, John Rensten is someone who is outstandingly passionate about it. John explains how he isn’t an expert, and he’s always learning… Because there is just endless amounts to learn about the foraging of foods and how they grow.
One example John gives whilst chatting to Mark is the fact that you can use the common dandelion in at LEAST four different ways. Even in urban environments it’s more than possible to find a variety of different foods filled with nutrients, and this is how John started out.
Now, John runs his very own foraging walks.
He teaches us all about all the types of ‘macro-fungi’ that exist in the UK and grown for miles below the forest floors, and how foraging for them “is an exercise in mindfulness and personal wellbeing.” [00:30:22]
As well as that, did you know that nettles have tonnes of protein inside them, and that symbiotic relationships are essential for the forest to thrive?
And this barely scratches the surface of the huge amounts of knowledge that John possesses and shares with us on the podcast.
Thanks for reading. If you are a fan of the podcast and have a spare five minutes, please leave us a review on your podcast player of choice x
Happy International Forest Day!