Flora: The Forest Foodie

Fellow supermarket-hater, Flora and I first met when we asked her to come up with some lovely Christmas present treats for our house owners.

I was impressed with her knowledge of the grass-roots and environmental-sensitive foodie movement that is growing across the New Forest.

Whilst she’s not done a degree in food provenance, she could write the local curriculum. Flora is a beacon of integrity and positivity in the local food industry.

What does the Forest Foodie do?

We deliver hampers and picnics, and drop in suppers to guests across the New Forest. We are lucky to have some of the finest ingredients from land and sea right on our doorstep, and we wanted to share the opportunity to eat so well, with visitors. Every purchase that is made from us supports a local farmer, grower, baker, cheesemaker or craftsman. Where possible we use plant based packaging and our picnics are delivered in cardboard boxes with natural wool liners. By supporting us you will also be helping with the circular economy within the New Forest to make it a better, cleaner, more eco friendly place.

Whether you are coming by land to holiday cottages and glamping spots, or by sea to our world famous sailing town in Lymington we can cater for you.

What’s your take on the local food sourcing issues?

Our frustrations, along with fellow locals, of not knowing how to get hold of local fish and seafood, where our meat comes from and buying Kenyan plastic wrapped green beans from Tesco bubbled away – and we thought we could really step in. So, we launched a company that bridges the gap between local suppliers and local residents/fellow visitors. We believe we are temporarily keepers of The New Forest, that we should take care of it, and make an impact. To keep sustaining something that will remain for generations to come, ensuring its longevity by supporting the local people who work here to keep producing what they produce.

 Forest Foodie picnic on yacht

What are the main things that you have tried to combat? The things that you’ve thought, hang on, we can do better here.

When we set up The Forest Foodie, mid lockdown in 2020, we set up to bridge the gap between so many brilliant small, local, talented suppliers, producers, makers, bakers, farmers and butchers with those visiting (or living in) our uniquely special corner of England, The New Forest. We introduced ‘The Forest Foodie Meets’ which tells the story behind the origin of where this food is sourced / caught / made, and the impact that it has on supporting the circular economy of The New Forest. We try and work as sustainably as possible – only sourcing from local suppliers. This ranges from local farms, local cheesemakers, local fisherman etc. We then deliver our hampers and picnics in boxes lined (and insulated to keep the food cold) with sheep’s wool. It is much more eco-friendly and has so many uses.

What’s developed for you during this ‘interesting’ year?

One of the positive impacts that have come from 2020/21 and Covid-19, is that consumers are much more aware of their buying habits. Somehow only now they are realising the importance of supporting their local butcher, greengrocer, farmers – not just at Christmas for their Turkey! They suddenly want what they might well lose without their support, without changing their habits. If every single person living in the New Forest spent £5 a week with a local supplier that would generate £12M a year – back into our local economy.

How did you choose your Forest Foodie path?

My previous life was working in London for a marketing agency in digital technology in the travel market. It was fast paced, relentless but fascinating. Before that I ran a restaurant in the ski area of the 3 Valleys in France. The FF is a lockdown business. The previous periods of my life had had their moment and I wanted to be back in the forest, by the sea with my family and bring my passions in life together. Local produce, food and the love of the outdoors – be that sailing, cycling, or paddle boarding. The last 10 months have been incredibly rewarding and exciting. Seeing the impact that our very small business is having on other fellow small businesses, as well as learning the ‘behind the scenes’ stories behind those companies has been so enriching.

And finally, where is your favourite place to spend time in the forest?

I love to walk my dogs near Hurst View Campsite, by the sea in the morning. You walk through fields with windswept wild ponies living there, can get out onto the sea wall from here and if you head towards Keyhaven (get to the sea and turn right) you find little wild beaches, very few people, and views for miles. During the evenings in the cooler months towards Christmas, you can see starlings murmurating. It’s the best way to start the day, where ideas start, I feel energised and refreshed.

 Flora, Founder – Forest Foodie

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