Never Mind the Burdocks is the brain-child of Emma Gunn, all-round plant guru. Born in Canada in 1978, Emma has always been surrounded by plants, one of her first experiences was seeing maple syrup being tapped from maple forests. At the age of 3, Emma’s family moved to Surrey for a few years to then jet off to Singapore where she spent 5 incredible years, once again surrounded by exquisite tropical delights such as jackfruit, bougainvillea, frangipani trees, limequats and a giant rambutan bush that would get ‘scrumped’ with a bamboo cane and a clothes hanger hook!
Age 11, Emma’s family moved once again to England but this time to Chester. A book that she came across at the time, on a rainy day in June, was ‘A book of pot pourri’ by Gail Duff – the beginning of her journey into the diverse and fascinating world of plants. From that point, Emma studied plant medicines and learning Latin at school helped with the botanical terminology. After A-levels, Emma moved to Pershore College in Worcestershire and trained as a garden designer, her design lecturer was Chris Beardshaw.
With all the travelling, there was always one place that felt like home – Cornwall. This Cornish connection was from Emma’s father’s side, dating back centuries but not the only link. She moved to Cornwall in 1998 and joined the Eden Project, doing many jobs from propagation, draughtsman, guide, skilled horticulturist to seasonal displays supervisor, 17 years later. After just a few years after moving to Cornwall, she met and married a Cornishman Nik Gunn, centuries-old family who were boatmen from Kea near Truro. Their honeymoon was meant to be on the Scillies but due to bad weather they had to stay in Cornwall, where they walked in the footsteps of Nik’s ancestors and picked wild plums, oysters from the estuaries and went shrimping instead!
The fascination in medicinal plants shifted to edible plants, and at the age of 14 her fascination was sparked once again when she bought a book called ‘Wild Food’ from her cousins school fete. One of her best holidays in Cornwall was picking elderflowers with her Dad and making cordial for the first time, walking from Lelant to St Ives and picking fiddleheads to try and walking to the beach with her new favourite book and imitation swiss-army penknife where she discovered sea salt, whittled a fork and spoon, ate her peanut butter and jam sandwiches and identified sea rocket from her book!
So here and now – Emma takes foraging walks, talks and foraged lunches around the county, from Penzance up to Bude. Oh and one last thing, gave birth to a beautiful little girl called Lowen Kitty in October!