Total Beginners are Welcome!
Much of the herb community is going to online education in 2021 to provide safe social distancing. While this is necessary for health reasons, I realized I would greatly miss being outside with the plant world and sharing it with fellow herbalists.
The Outdoor Herbal Apprentice Program is a way to meet in person while following the needed health guidelines.
The curriculum is a combination of:
1. Core Meetings
We meet in person 2 days a month; the start and ending times are typically from 9am to mid-afternoon. These are small group classes held in the outdoors at different elevations and in different life zones. These gatherings involve small group discussion and Q&A on various topics relevant to developing herbalists. Our small group of five students make safe distancing workable. The group meets outdoors in natural settings. The walking is mostly level and is no more than 2 miles daily.
2. A Personal Herb Book
~200 pages of class notes, formulas, recipes and clinical tips from 25 years of experience. These will be delivered via email by individual topics at various times over the seven months of the program.
3. Monthly Readings and References for Your Resource Library
These are additional articles, monographs and power points that relate to topics introduced during the Core Meetings. The resources allow you to explore topics in more depth as your interest leads you. These are provided as long term references for your herbal learning over the years.
Applying what you learn in class to home projects.
These are the everyday activities of an herbalist: harvesting, processing, preparing and using herbs in their many forms: teas, salves, syrups, extracts, etc.
5. Field Study Days
Enrolled students are invited to join me for optional Field Study activities each month. These days are not an official part of the program but provide an opportunity to meet and learn about a wide variety of plants in their native environments.
The Field Study days are offered for free and are both day long and multi-day. The start and ending times vary but expect a full day from shortly after breakfast to mid-afternoon.
We will occasionally be accompanied by a few other herbal friends on our Field Study days.
The walks are better thought of as hikes and will be up to 5 miles daily, sometimes off trail. The general pace is relaxed – the priority is connecting to the plant world and seeing therapeutic plants and wild foods in their relation to the bigger picture of topography, life zones, resources and sustainability.
This portion of the program includes a four day trip to the high country of the Colorado Rockies in July and a three day hike/car camp in northern Arizona in September.
Students have the option to pick and choose which Field Study days to attend; one option is to attend all of them.
How Would You Describe the Program in General?
It runs March through September.
We are outdoors… all the time.
Students should be comfortable in a variety of weather, elevation and terrain.
The elevation ranges from 2000’ in the Sonoran Desert to 12,000’ above treeline in the Colorado Rockies.
Many of the Core Meetings will be in the general Flagstaff area.
The optional Field Study includes hikes both on and off trail – up to five miles a day.
The group size is limited to five students.
In regard to the current public health situation, this allows a safe physical space while in the outdoors and interacting with the plant world.
An interview is required before entering the program.
This can be done in person or via Zoom.
What You Will Learn
1. Detailed information on 50-100 plants. Most of these either grow in the American Southwest or can be cultivated in gardens. Plants from the Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) traditions will also be presented.
2. The basic principles of TCM and Indian Ayurveda and how to integrate these healing systems into Western herbalism and everyday life
3. Ways to use herbs, diet and lifestyle to support the healthy functioning of body systems and organs
4. How to wild craft medicinal plants from nature and, just as importantly, how to do this sustainably or when not to wild craft
5. How to grow and harvest herbs in a garden environment
6. Botany – learn to apply Plant Families, Genera and Species + knowing how to read the land so you can find specific plants when in a new environment
7. The role of plant chemistry and how specific constituents interact with the solvents of water, alcohol, honey, glycerin, vinegar and fixed oils
8. Which poisonous plants to avoid
9. How, when and where to forage for wild food. This includes both the individual plants used for food and the bigger picture of living off the land as our ancestors did.
10. Extensive herbal pharmacy demonstrations for topical and internal use
What You Will Need as a Student:
- A dependable vehicle for traveling out of town and on dirt roads. A Subaru-level capability is sufficient for the dirt roads.
- Dependable access to computer, email and wifi in between meetings.
- Financial ability to purchase tools of the trade as the course progresses: garden tools, occasional books, supplies for herbal pharmacy.
- Either the experience and ability to be at home in the outdoors or the ability, desire and commitment to grow into that role.
- A flexible schedule that allows herb time during the week.
2021 Dates for the Outdoor Herbal Apprentice Program
Core Meetings days are March 4-5
Optional Field Study days are March 17-18 in the Sonoran desert @ 2,000′ elevation
Core Meetings days are April 6-7
Optional Field Study days are April 27-28 @ 3,500′ – 5,000′ elevation
Core Meeting days are May 11-12
Optional Field Study days are May 24-25 @ 6,000′ – 7,000′ elevation
Core Meeting days are June 2-3
Optional Field Study days are June 21-22 in riparian habitats at various elevations
Core Meeting days are July 6-7
Optional Field Study days in Colorado are July 12-16 @ 9,000′ – 12,000′ elevation
The type of lodging in Colorado is yet to be determined due to the virus situation.
Core Meeting days are August 2-3
Optional Field Study days are August 7, 15, 17, 22
Core Meeting days are September 8-9
Optional Field Study days and locations are changed due to wildfires this summer. Dates in August have been added in place of this month.