Woman made redundant in pandemic becomes a full-time forager

When Lucy Buckle, 34, lost her job as a pharmacy manager amid the pandemic, she soon realised she was in no rush to go back to work.

Fed up of working 50 hours a week and constantly feeling under pressure, she decided to make a serious change, and in June 2020 became a full-time forager.

Lucy says that foraging for food in the wild has saved her hundreds of pounds on her household bills, and she’s now paid to teach others her skills – nearly matching her previous earnings.

‘It wasn’t until I left my job that I realised how miserable I was, said Lucy, who lives with her bus driver wife Shell Buckle, 42, and their dogs Holly and Pippa.

‘Foraging is amazing. I just pop out every morning to walk the dogs and pick up some nettles to make my tea.

‘I call the local park – Broxtowe Country Park – my foraging supermarket, I just grab everything I need from it.’

Lucy had first tried foraging when she was just four years old, but her job loss prompted her to return to that hobby and turn it into a lifestyle.

Swapping suits for comfy dungarees and a brief case for a wicker basket, she has not looked back.

She said: ‘It was second nature to pick fruit and vegetables in the wild. But when I moved to the city, aged 18, it became a little harder.

‘I started managing a pharmacy in 2012 and doing over 50 hours a week. I had to wear a suit every day and even wore lipstick. I didn’t feel like myself.

‘I’m an active person, I’m happiest when I’m outside. So, being stuck in the office away from any natural light made me really unhappy. The whole time I just dreamed of going outside.’

Initially, when Lucy lost her £22,000-a-year job – meaning she took home around £1,500 after tax – she was scared she would not manage.

But thankfully, along with reducing her food bills dramatically, Lucy was able to sell the food she foraged on private land to local companies make extra money by offering classes.

She saves £300 a month by no longer travelling to work, plus £250 a month that she used to spend on work lunches and takeaways, and, through her classes and sales, makes around £1,300 month after tax.

Lucy, who lives just outside Nottingham’s city centre, now wants to spread the word about the brilliance of foraging.

‘It was amazing when I realised you could get so much in the city – along the canal bank or by the River Trent,’ she said.

‘I don’t think people realise how much you can find.

‘Obviously, foraging is great because of the environmental impact, there’s no plastic, air miles, or pesticides attached to your food.

‘But it’s a cheaper way to live, too. Between February and October, I don’t buy any salad, I pick everything. I go to the local park and will fill a massive wicker basket with delicious finds.

‘In the summer I can save at least £100 on the monthly food shop.

‘You have to get creative and cook what’s in season, but it’s delicious. You get such a sense of pride making it yourself.

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