Hometown: Essex County, NY
Profession: Living History Teacher and Founder of Wild Foods
Melanie Sawyer was born in the Cotswolds on the west coast of England and pretty much spent her childhood mainly in the countryside. She has always been at her most peaceful in the woods and nature, preferring to be surrounded by trees and learning about plants and wildlife rather than attending social gatherings. In short, she is happier alone.
After her studies at college left her with big debt, she took a leap of faith to pay them off. She approached and was signed by a model agency in London. She became the face of ‘88. Traveling extensively and living a life she could not believe was possible, she eventually settled in New York City, started a family and transitioned to behind the scenes. She has worked for 24 years as a Baby Wrangler on kids’ fashion shoots on locations across the country. Melanie believes strongly in giving back and helping others. She volunteers for many charities and, in 2013, she received the Certificate of Congressional Special Recognition for her work in the community.
Melanie now lives off-grid with her fiancé Brian in the remote beauty and wilderness of the 6-million-acre Adirondack State Park. Their home has solar banks for electricity, a 600-foot deep well for water, and chickens, ducks and pheasants for meat and eggs. They hunt Snowshoe hare, deer, and grouse for supplemental meat, and fish extensively in the surrounding lakes and rivers. She believes passionately in sourcing as much of her food as possible directly from nature. Melanie has two biological children, Felix and Lucas, and Ollie, their cousin, who she counts as a third. They range in age from 19 to 22 years old and she is incredibly proud of them all and couldn’t wish for more amazing humans!
In 2021, Melanie combined her love of 18th Century history alongside her traditional living, foraging and survival skills and founded Thunderhawk Living History School. Thunderhawk is invited to teach and reenact at museums, schools and historical locations on the East coast. Melanie sees that teaching history in authentic surroundings and period-correct detail helps people learn more easily when they see exactly how life was for both Native, English and Scottish peoples in the 1700s in New York State. All of the Thunderhawk Guides’ teaching personas stem from their own heritages.
“If you can feed yourself, you can free yourself.” As Covid gripped the world, Melanie saw a sharp rise of interest in her community and students in foraging wild plants and mushrooms. As a way to help educate people and source them, Melanie created Wild Foods and Wilderness, which introduces alternatives to the normal vegetables and fruits you might see in stores and markets. Wild Foods and Wilderness teaches you the history behind who introduced foreign or long-forgotten native foods to the Americas and how to source and prepare them. You’ll be surprised at some of the things you didn’t know you could eat, and some you won’t know at all but will be happy to befriend.
Melanie is incredibly excited to be a part of Alone Season 10 and to put all of her skills to the test. She hopes the show inspires others to get out into the woods and learn too! She wants to press the importance of always trying, even if it means making mistakes in the process. There is no success without pushing yourself and your boundaries of what you think you can do, along with an element of working through failure before you master a new skill. Get out there and get learning. Carpe Diem!
Here are the ten items Melanie selected to bring on her survival journey the bone-chilling temperatures of Northern Saskatchewan, Canada:
1. Bow and Arrows
2. Snare Wire
3. Fishing Line and Hooks
6. Sleeping bag
7. Cooking Pot
8. Ferro Rod
9. Food Rations
10. Food Rations