If you want to do something a little out of the ordinary this summer, I have no better recommendation than Future Necessities, a newly founded outdoors company that aims to reconnect people with nature and practical craftsmanship. The organization, run by Jeff Thompson, Gregg Southard, and Blake Southard offers classes on primitive cooking, hunting, foraging, crafting, and more. Their extensive personal expertise and passion for the outdoors combined with an impressive shared anthropological and historical knowledge makes a day with Future Necessities a special experience.
When we first started Future Necessities, we didn’t realize how different our life experiences were from the average,” said Blake. Big, burly, and blonde, Blake crossed his thick arms across his chest and smiled at the memory. “One of the first classes we taught was a carving class. We sat everyone down and told them to take their knives out and start carving. No one in the class had even brought a knife. I’ve carried one since I was three!” Gregg grinned through his fluffy white beard.
Since then, the three men have refined their teaching style to perfection. They constantly check in on their students’ expertise levels, never assume a piece of information is too basic for an explanation, and never stoop to condescension.
“You’d recognize a birch tree, right?” Yes.
“Do you know what a plantain is?” Like the banana thing? (No.)
“Have you heard about Ötzi the Iceman?” Yeah!
Whatever you already know going into their classes, the men of Future Necessities work hard to create a comfortable learning environment and are consistently gracious, funny, and informative. Future Necessities presents technical skills as part of a greater understanding of human history. In the middle of a technical demonstration about using twining nettle to make string, for example, Blake described the huge nets made by the Calusa tribe of Florida for countless generations.
Jeff looked out from underneath his hood and waxed poetic about foraging, trapping, and fire-making as human birthrights. “These skills have been around since before homo sapiens. Learning these techniques can help us understand where we came from.”
Here’s a quick rundown of just some of the upcoming classes:
June 8 — The Art of Primitive Trapping
Learn the basics of creating animal traps, among them the Paiute deadfall and the twitch up spring snare. You’ll also learn basic animal tracking skills and discuss the ethics of trapping. Primitive trapping is illegal outside of survival situations in Minnesota, but it never hurts to be prepared!
June 10 — Foraging Edibles and Primitive Cooking
Spend six hours with the Future Necessities team foraging and then cooking whatever you find. You’ll learn how to eat nettles without getting stung, which plants taste like cucumbers and asparagus, and how to turn a cattail into a feast. You might even get to try some acorn bread if you’re lucky.
July 9 — Moccasins
Make your new favorite footwear in this six hour workshop. Everyone will leave with a pair of moose-skin moccasins made just for them!
July 15 — Wilderness Survival Basics
This basic skills class will teach you how to survive in the wild. Beginning with learning how to prioritize your needs in a survival situation (shelter, fire, water, and food — in that order), this catch-all class will make sure that you’re equipped to survive in a worst case scenario.
The men who lead Future Necessities have an infectious passion for nature that makes spending time with them a delight. If there are any outdoors or crafting skills that you want to learn, odds that they’ve already mastered them and can teach you. Go to futurenecessities.org for more information.
By Holly Peterson