My name is Darren – thanks for visiting the AlchemyFlow website. I’m a London based freelancer; fermentation enthusiast, writer and massage therapist.
I have run workshops throughout the UK and in the local community around fermentation and food & health politics for nearly five years. My interest in healing and health related activism grew out of a personal health crisis around eight years ago, where a long history of stress, poor nutrition and a toxic environment were finally compounded by a disastrous course of antibiotics whilst travelling and numerous and interrelated parasite infections – a recipe for severely compromised physical and mental health. At the time, these circumstances fed into a sense of disillusionment and anger with mainstream medicine, which seemed redundant in areas such as mental or digestive health and where indeed, even in some cases, seemed to exacerbate them.
Intuitively I sensed that more traditional and alternative systems of medicine had something to offer, which went on to shape the trajectory of my undergraduate degree, where I studied the relationship between alternative / traditional medicine and western orthodox medicine. My background before beginning university as a mature student was in community work, campaigning and activism – so I graduated with a pretty established toolkit for grassroots activism and agitating social change. From that point on I began talking about gut health and healing in a political way, using food fermentation as a practical way to empower individual changes around health but to also affect change from within our existing health paradigm. Of course, beyond the politics, my love of food, the flavours available through fermentation and the profound healing capacities of live food made this combo a complete winner.
The small and improvised workshop spaces I created in the beginning have now flourished into popular and engaging programs that are run regularly in Brighton and have been supported and funded by health charities, arts projects and universities throughout the UK. In 2015, a crowdfunder attracted a start-up fund of over £4k to furnish my project with new equipment for teaching and small batch producing, as well as funding the development and upkeep of this website. I have since hosted some big names in the fermentation world such as Sandor Katz and one of the principle supporters of my crowdfunder, Viridian Nutrition, commissioned my project in 2018 to take the workshop on the road – visiting health stores throughout the UK.
Away from academic inquiry and workshop provision, the question of health has taken me on many personal and professional adventures and I’ve had the honour of working with some amazing teachers along the way. My search for meaning has meant my involvement in intentional community for over five years now, where I have felt and experienced first hand the healing potential of coming together with others around a shared ethos for life and relationship with the land. In 2014 I also qualified as a Thai Massage Practitioner and have since studied on a foundation course in Riechian Bodywork – I am very fond of encouraging better health and more happiness through working with people on a one to one level through the body.
Through my work I am trying to realise and create a liberatory politic through health – where the biological, emotional, spiritual, political and environmental contingencies of health form the principles of a modern social movement for a new paradigm in medicine. My approach is inspired by the emerging field of microbiome research and biotherapeutics which I think are exciting avenues for re-thinking human and planetary health. I am currently developing my research focus in this area through an MSc Medical Anthropology at UCL, London. Watch this space!
I hope to see you at a workshop soon!