The benefits of learning about the natural environment
Fran leading a walk in Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield
Naturally Focused was created to share ecological knowledge and promote the benefits of learning about the natural environment. Drawing upon two decades of landscape exploration and a lifetime of working with plants, my aim is to help you connect with nature’s magic.
Spending time in the natural environment is good for our physical health and mental wellbeing. ‘Nature cures’ now feature among the social prescriptions made by GPs. Learning about plants and trees is endlessly rewarding; the more you understand the more remarkable the world around you is revealed to be. It appeals to our innate preference for nature and living organisms, as outlined within the biophillia hypothesis.
Fran's published books, as both author and photographer
My love of nature led to me working as a landscape photographer for nearly a decade, providing me with an excuse to seek out the UK’s habitats from coast to mountaintop. During this time I learned about British wildflowers and native trees, complementing my existing knowledge of garden plants and their many practical uses.
My well-earned status as a ‘plant nerd’, and my fifteen years of delivering adult education, means that I am well placed to teach wildlife gardening courses.
My passion for supporting nature led me to create the Wildlife Gardening Sheffield community on Facebook, to reach out to like-minded citizens who want to improve the biodiversity potential of the 33% of urban Sheffield that is classed as garden.
Having completed an MA in landscape architecture at the University of Sheffield, in 2017 I co-created the Sheffield Woodland Connections Tree Charter branch with ecologist Christine Thuring to support the Charter for Tree Charter, Woodlands and People. Since 2018 I have led interpretative woodland walks and nature photography workshops at various sites across the city with the support of Sheffield City Council.
If you want to reap the benefits of learning about the natural environment then what better way than in the company of a seasoned guide.
My urge to grow has led me to work with various Sheffield-based businesses and organisations that promote local and sustainable food. Once a week I volunteer at the Regather Farm, where I get to apply my horticulture skills at a field-sized market garden.
In April 2020 I designed and helped set up the Kenwood Community Growers kitchen garden, whose volunteers provide ultra-locally grown produce to the Food Works kitchen at the Sharrow Community Forum. In July 2020 I began freelancing for Food Works to design and build their Manor market garden, which will be up and running from spring 2021.
If you would like to volunteer with me and gain practical food growing skills then please get in touch.