I’ve had a lot of fun recently leading plant walks in Marsden. I’ve started to get a feel for how it works best. Individuals or small groups up to 4 allow me to give more of myself. It means that when I find something interesting the group is clustered close round me to get a good look at what i’m showing, and to hear what i’m saying. I feel much more relaxed, and have the feeling that I can really be myself. I have felt like a tour guide with larger groups. There seems less possibility of chatting between plants so I don’t end up getting to know anyone that well. It’s always nice to come away from a walk and feel that I’ve got to know someone.
I’ve been taking donations rather than charging, which has worked really well. It’s interesting to note that the people in the larger groups gave less per person than those in the smaller groups. It reinforces to me that it would be a false economy to lead larger groups because it doesn’t necessarily make me more money. I haven’t ruled out charging for the walks one day, but this model is helping me to get an idea of how much my time is worth.
It’s really important to me to keep it affordable for people.
I’ve been looking at other people who lead plant or wild food walks to see how they organise it, but the best would be to go on a walk with them. There are lots of ways I can see to improve them or to add more value, but they’ll wait for another time. That’d mostly involve foraging and cooking some of the things we find, or preparing tasters beforehand of the plants that we’ll find. On one walk I went on we sampled sloe gin, hawthorn fruit leather etc.
Recently, I went to Leeds and walked around the park and woods at Meanwood with a friend. We were walking for 5 hours, must have stopped and talked about 100 plants, and by the end I actually couldn’t process any more. I had to shut down my curiosity and turn on tunnel vision just to get home. We had a meal, then I collapsed onto the couch. There was a huge white Lily in a vase on the table and it actually hurt to look at it. I was still going through my checklist – 6 tepals, 6 stamens, 3 parted stigma and it hurt!
I noted that it’ll be really important as the trip goes on not to overdo it. It’s always a danger, especially when you’re passionate about what you do. There’ll be days where every plant I look at is new and interesting, compared with Marsden, where I know the flora fairly well.
“Wow!…..ahhh, nooo! No more wow!”