This Forager Has a Lot to Answer For…

You may or may not know that I never intended to teach foraging. Back in 2008 I met a man called Frank Cook.

Frank was extraordinary. Not only as a plant walker, but as a human being too.

Much of what you hear and see regarding plants in the foraging world came from his work. His passion. His fully embodied love of plants, and the relationship we as humans have with them, and they with us.

Frank would travel the world meeting the plants and healers of numerous cultures.

He met them in Africa, Europe, South America, India and Nepal, and by the time of his death in 2009 it was estimated that he had met 70% of the plant genera of this planet. I have to tell you that is extraordinary!

He fed minds and inspired lives, and it was he who kicked me out the door and encouraged me to start teaching foraging. Back then you could count on one hand the number of foraging teachers.

Frank Cook was a herbalist, teacher, botanical explorer, activist and pollinator who turned people on to the abundance nature provides and the ability to self-actualise.

He considered himself a citizen of the world. We considered him to be an herbal extraordinaire, green wizard, botanical genius and Gaia-loving prophet of emerging planetary medicine and transition cultures. He touched a large number of people and instilled in them a deep love of the natural world as well as an empowered sense of self.

He studied internationally with herbalists, shamans, vaidyas, green witches, doctors, professors, and medicine men and women around the world who initiated him into many ways of understanding plants as medicine.

Travel is one of the ways we interact with the world, expand our perspectives, and exchange knowledge.

Frank was an inveterate traveler, circling the globe to learn about plants, meet shamans and healers, engage with communities, and teach about transition culture and ways to be in greater harmony with nature.

And so when he passed away in 2009, a group of his friends decided to carry on Frank’s work by forming a non-profit called Plants & Healers International or PHI as it’s known.

A couple of years ago I got invited to join the board of directors, of which I am now a member.

The purpose of PHI is to connect plants, people and healers around the world.

One the ways we do that is by offering Botanical Travel Adventures.

Special once in lifetime trips to traditional cultures that still have a deep connection to plants.

Visiting people and places where we can learn and share plant knowledge. While at the same time building networks to record and document the local plant knowledge before it is finally wiped out by the ever encroaching move towards modernisation.

Building networks that are respectful of the communities we visit, instead of the usual cultural appropriation that is too often common. Think ayahuasca tourism and the destruction that has wrought!

So the reason I am writing to you today, is to let you know about an upcoming trip to Peru in December 2016 being hosted by Plants and Healers International.

The purpose of this adventure is to get close to the plants of the Andes mountains and the healers that use them.

It will be a 9-day guided exploration through the Sacred Valley, including a day trip to Machu Picchu.

There will be hikes, botanical forays, plant walks with local herbalists, discussions of Andean plant families and their relatives worldwide, opportunities for hands-on medicine making, introductions to native Quechua weavers, visits to local farms and plenty of traditional meals!

The tour will be guided by two of my lovely plant friends…

Marc Williams, a seasoned ethnobotanist as well as the director of PHI, and T Turtlington, a gardener, researcher and PHI board member currently living in the Sacred Valley.

Both of them where very close friends of Frank Cook.

Nearly half of the expedition will be based out of Ollantaytambo, with it’s central location and the hospitality of our friends at the Casa De Wow, participants will have a great vantage point to experience this incredible valley!

This is really a chance of a lifetime to travel to Peru with knowledgable guides, in a like-minded group with unprecedented access to people and places rarely experienced by other tourists and travellers.

If you feel inspired to make the journey, you can find out more here.

Dates are December 1st to December 9th, 2016.

Note: the trip is limited to 9 participants, so if you would like to be one of them, register soon!

And if funds are tight, there is also a special ‘Eatweeds Bursary’ available. This is not being publicised, so if you are really interested then please email Marc Williams at, and mention my name and the bursary fund.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to come on this trip, which I am gutted by, as I have other obligations.

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