Caroline Davey - Director of Fat Hen, the Wild Cookery School

Caroline Davey.jpg

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My three beautiful children and setting up my business alongside being a mum.

What motivates you to do what you do?

A desire for a deep nature connection, a desire to be independent and have freedom to create my own work, to share my love of food and nature with others and to be flexible around my children so I can be there for them at the end of the school day too.

What do you owe your mother?

A love of food and travel. I grew up with good home cooking and spent my childhood abroad in Hong Kong and Botswana. I travelled a lot before I was 12 and got to see different cultures at a young age. I still have this wanderlust to see the world.

Which women inspire you and why?

I am very inspired by Mhairi Black, the young female Scottish National Party MP.  She became an MP whilst still an undergraduate and is one of the youngest MPs there have been. I admire her passion and confidence and her common sense. She’s has scathing views of Westminster and is prepared to state how outdated and sexist the ‘Old boys Club’ is. She inspires me because she’s prepared to stick her neck out for her beliefs and is really out there to help people less fortunate in our society. I love the fact that she’s a woman, very young and so clearly unintimidated by the old dinosaurs in Westminster twice and three times her age.

What are you reading?

I’ve just started reading a book about seaweed. It’s pretty dry and academic but on a subject that totally fascinates me. It’s called ‘Seaweed in Health and Disease Prevention.’ The potential of seaweeds to be used for food and to contribute to the prevention of western diseases is a subject that has enormous potential. We have an extensive resource here in Cornwall but have not had much of a seaweed industry or recent tradition of eating it. Other coastal communities around the world including Ireland, Scotland and Wales have had hundreds, if not thousands of years of including seaweeds in their diets and have had a traditional knowledge of their health giving properties. This knowledge is now being backed up by scientific research which is very exciting. The potential for preventative and supportive treatment of cancers, diabetes and heart disease with seaweeds is gaining increased momentum. Both my parents had cancer in their 40s. My father died of bowel cancer age 44 and my mother had breast cancer at 45 (she is still alive at 80) so this subject is very close to my heart.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

Navigating the landscape of being a working mother has been my biggest challenge. I didn’t feel any gender hurdles in my career prior to being a mum but now I feel it all the time. My life completely changed when I became a mum and I have had to design my work and business around being ultimately flexible around the children. I had no idea how polarised life would become once being a mum.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

If we can change the way the media portrays women and their bodies this would help go some way in making women of all ages feel okay to be who they are. Women’s magazines continue to fuel this depressing message that if only our bellies were flatter or boobs were bigger or bum was more toned we’d all be happier and more accepted. I worry for my teenage daughter being bombarded by this imagery. It seems to be getting worse and with women’s bodies being photoshopped to perfection then the images are not only damaging but totally unreal and unattainable. If you took these magazines seriously you’d think that the only aim for us as women is to achieve the perfect bikini body. I don’t think I can recall any magazine cover that celebrates the amazing achievements or qualities of women.

Describe your perfect day?

A sunny day on the beach with friends and family, sunset surf in small waves, fire on the beach, supper on the fire (preferably fish we’ve caught ourselves!), hot chocolate, home to bed.

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Rowena Cade who had the vision to build the Minack theatre and who did much of the work herself.  To create such a unique place and to provide millions of people with culture and entertainment is a huge achievement and should be celebrated and remembered.

Helen Glover for her amazing sporting achievements. (double olympic champion 2012, 2016).

Caroline Davey grew up in Hong Kong, England and Botswana and travelled the world as a child experiencing the awe inspiring beauty of nature in its many guises.

'I naturally wanted a career that led me to nature and after gaining a BSc. in Zoology followed by a masters degree in Environmental Impact Assessment I had a career for 12 years as an ecological consultant, 11 of which were at CEC Ltd in Cornwall.This career took me to all of Cornwall’s wild landscapes to record and document habitats and species. I honed my plant identification skills during this time and developed a deeper understanding of the impacts of farming and development on our natural ecosystems. I spent over a decade advising land owners and developers on wildlife conservation issues. Although I loved my job I began to feel it was missing a vital element. I wanted an interactive and deeper relationship with nature. I didn’t just want to know what these plants were and if they were rare or not, I wanted to know what they meant to us and what they could be useful for. So, after dabbling in wild food for 10 years, I took the plunge and set up Fat Hen. For the first 12 months I supplied restaurants but after seeing all the seasons through, on my hands and knees, realised that I wanted to be with other people enjoying it together.'