It's been one AMAZING year since I launched Gather Patreon, so in this post I’m going review, reassess and set new goals (and rewards) for 2019. But first, I want to thank each of you. You not only literally transformed my life, you gifted me with all sorts of valuable lessons about trusting the beneficence of the universe, about the goodness of people, about gratitude, about faith in following your path because yes, yes dreams can come true. And well, you better get ready! Because when the universe answers your knocks and the door suddenly opens onto a bright shiny new vision of reality... it can take time to adjust to the view!
Gather has always been a “passion project”, I’d never seriously considered that doing what I loved, going out into nature every day, harvesting, cooking, researching & writing recipes could be my actual job. So when I launched Patron in Dec. 2018, (in response to many requests for a cookbook and videos) I thought, dreamt and hoped that maybe we could build these materials together. And we have! Or at least, we’ve made a start….
There was one small problem, my Patron Goals for 2018 weren’t very realistic. They were a wish list of all the ways I wanted to Gather to grow, but I didn’t account my own steep curve of learning i.e. e-cookbook software, video editing programs, never mind the “ins and outs” of packaging, labelling and mailing out “herbal products” for Gather’s Goody Boxes. Normally I just make enough “goodies” for family, friends and neighbors, so harvesting and cooking large batches of syrups, ordering bottles, negotiating the postal systems and customs - all totally new. I mean who knew it's impossible to get a parcel to Brazil?
And while every single day I thank my lucky stars, now there is always so much to do, harvest, preserve or make into medicine, herbal syrups & goody boxes to deliver, blog posts and recipes to write - I can never quite catch up.
Time for long outdoor rambles, the “slow time I “commune” with the landscape, when the plants “speak” to me and provide recipe inspiration, is short. The almost trance-inducing methodical indoor work of processing, storing, decanting and concocting is when I weave intention and prayer into the foods and medicines, potions, and elixirs I create. But now the “to do list” preoccupies my mind. And fewer are the hours for reading & research & writing, for pulling on golden thread of enchantment found in the world of plants, herbal lore, folkloric traditions and magical cookery that feed my soul.
Meanwhile, my home is a Baba Yaga like whirl of chaos. Bundles of drying herbs line my kitchen table and sideboards and hang from cupboard doors. Bottles of vinegars, trays of herbal salts, bundles of berries, and baskets of acorns and chestnuts, are spread over every available surface. And the kitchen, well I won’t even begin. It's not that I’m a particularly tidy housekeeper but I’ve always considered the home as a magical place and now mine is always a mess.
And it’s all left me feeling as if I’m selling a lifestyle I’m not actually living ... at least when it comes to the heart of the matter. Gather isn’t a place I put on a show, it's my life. Meaning I’m not an expert! I’m just like you and so many right now, who are rediscovering the age-old “plant path”. And I’m learning as I go along.
So for 2019 I want to be realistic about what I can promise, achieve and deliver while still maintaining authenticity - and harmony in my home! And as much I want to do it all, executing it all successfully is a different matter. I need to find a balance between the spiritual heart of Gather and the practical realities of how it manifests in the world. Plus I need to reconnect with the sheer joy of hanging out with mama nature!
Which means I need to focus on what matters most. You out there. How can Gather best serve its audience and patrons, after all without you there’d be a lot less of Gather! So in plotting a course for the future, I took a quick look at the past. What were the stories, recipes and videos most useful to Gather readers i.e. shared and re-shared over the past six years? Well turns out it was the kind of stories I most love telling, stories of ancient nature holidays, goddess traditions, sacred plants and magical foods.
When Gather began six years ago, interest in wild and magical cookery was just beginning, now glorious wild food, herbal cookery and kitchen witchery blogs filled with wonderful recipes abound. So I think it's pretty safe to assume that more and more of us are seeking a deeper, more meaningful connection to nature and the foods we use to nourish ourselves.
So for 2019, these are the stories I will continue to lean into. Stories from the vast treasure trove of ancestral food wisdom that connects us to the rhythms of the earth and the magic of nature, the ‘old ways’ of creating nourishment, healing and blessings for ourselves, our family, community and the planet herself.
So without further ado, here are Patron Goals for 2019 & Updated Patreon Rewards.
I’m sorry, I’ve been really struggling with this, but because of the time it takes to write and photograph these posts, I am eliminating this tier altogether. I want to integrate this diary material into the Gather Cookbook, where it really belongs. I value your patronage and don’t want to lose it, so current Gather Patrons who continue to support at the $3.00 level will receive an automatic bump up to the Cookbook Tier. That means if you continue your monthly $3.00 donations you’ll be receiving the $5.00 dollar reward tier instead of the Gather Diary. (More details & info coming soon.)
Gather Cookbook: Digital Previews
The Gather Cookbook Wildcrafting Culinary Magic is now running at over 200 pages and will continue to grow with new recipes for the coming spring. With the addition of my gathering diary, a few more recipes in each section (plus the addition of some of the most popular recipes from the Gather website) the book will undergo some tweaking and complete its transformation into a real live hard copy cookbook. Cookbook Patrons will receive a free digital download of the completed book.
And beginning in spring, Cookbook Patrons will begin to recieve recipe previews from a new Gather Cookbook. And while still untitled it will celebrate the divine cuisine of the goddess just as our ancestors once did, one delicious & reverent bite a time! Inspired by the foods, herbs wine, milk, eggs, honey, oil, grains, spices, flowers, fruits and nuts, sacred to the great goddesses of antiquity, this seasonal guide to her foods and feasts explores all manner of delicious offerings once laid on temple altars and consumed in communal feasts.
There will be honey cakes, date cakes, fruit & nut cakes and cheesecakes (filled with ancient grains, seeds, wild and magical herbs, blossoms and forest berries!) traditional libations like herb-infused wines, beers, mead, spiked floral milks sweetened with honey, as well dishes of wild greens and fresh cheeses like the Roman Moretum ( a kind of pesto) made in honour of the Goddess Cybele, The Magna Mater or Great Mother. According to Ovid, Moretum descends from a time ancient people drank only pure milk and ate only “the herbs that the earth bore of its free will.” And as we’ll discover it may have been the originator of pizza!
From the British Isles, Europe, Russia, the Asian Steppes, Persia, and beyond, whether she was known as Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Isis, Artemis, Cybele, Diana, Aphrodite, Freya, Lakshmi, Pashamama, Spider Grandmother, or White Buffalo Woman, this seasonal guide to celebrating the foods and feasts of the goddess, will be served with a dollop of history, a dash of the wild and spiced with the folklore of ancestral food magic!
Poor Unrewarded $10.00 Video Tier Patrons
I’ve finally settled on a doable theme for the first batch of videos - stocking your pantry! Probably my greatest frustration in writing recipes for the Gather cookbook is that so many aromatic herbs, spices and wild condiments beloved to my cooking (and therefore found in so many recipes) probably aren’t in your cupboard. And as you receive the Gather Cookbook as part of your $10.00 Patron Reward it makes sense to create videos that will help you harvest and preserve your herbs and prepare the condiments one needs for creating a little wildcrafted “cuisine”. So beginning in spring with new greens and blossoms, I’ll show you what to harvest each season and how to preserve it for your pantry!
Local Wild Cookery Walks & Monthly Gatherings
Well this failed miserably, I just didn't have time! And because I'm not sure I can commit to regular walks this year either, I'm dissolving this tier as well. That doesn't mean there won't be some upcoming walks and Gather seasonal events, just that they won't be a part of Patreon Rewards. And to the sole patron still subscribing to this tier, you will be gifted a big fat Gather Goody Box as a consolation prize - plus you will get to attend walks and events in the next year as my guest, for FREE.
Gather Tonic Syrups & Goody Boxes
These will be out, hopefully, by the end of next week. Just have to finish up a few things, bottle it up, package and ship it. Hopefully, as I get the swing of things, things will begin moving efficiently!
That said, in the interest of quality control and sanity, I will be capping the number of Tonic Syrups and Goody Boxes available through Patreon Reward Tiers. It takes a lot of time to ethically wildcraft and create quality “products” and while I really do love to concoct medicines and potions as special gifts, there is only so much time in a day!
The Tonic Syrups & Goody Boxes soon to be winging their way to your door are especially designed to fortify your body and lift your spirits during short dark days of late winter. Because when the cold saps your energy and sinks into your bones, these revitalizing remedies help restore your defenses and banish winter colds and flus, not to mention seasonal blues.
In old world traditions, this halfway point between winter and spring was a traditional time of purification, cleansing and rejuvenation. So in keeping with custom Goody Boxes will also feature a few items to help you celebrate the old rites that once prepared us for coming of spring, like the upcoming Celtic festival of Imbolc. There will be plenty of cleansing, protective and magical herbs that help wash away the past year, support your intentions for new growth - and keep bad ju-ju away.
....So that’s it - the bare basics of what I think I can reasonably manage. Of course there will be much more to do, like answering emails & questions, and keeping up with videos and blog posts I create for the Gather website and social media platforms. I’m determined that Gather doesn’t become one of those paid portals to information, I want the website to remain a real resource for those who are seeking inspiration, knowledge and recipes for their journey on the “plant path”! Which is why, once again, I thank you for your support! You are making it all possible.
p.s. What else would you like to see from Gather in the future? I'm wide open to suggestions and welcome your feedback, please let me know what you think!