Organic Herb Farming: Cultivation, Foraging, Harvesting, and Making Use of Medicinal & Cullinary Herbs
A 6-month certificate training course
||Carolyn Smith, Herbalist
||2nd Sundays of the month, (May 17*, June 14, July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11)
*Start date delayed one week due to Mother's Day
||12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
||WEI's Amador Hill Farm and Orchard
15715 River Road, North Branch, MN 55056
In this class we will meet monthly over 6 months of the growing season to learn organic cultivation of medicinal and culinary herb varieties and foraging of medicinal/culinary species that grow in the midwest. We will also learn basic medicinal preparation techniques and cover medicinal and culinary uses of a variety of plants. Students are required to complete a 32 hour practicum during the course period to help take care of the herb farm when class is not in session (approximately 3 full working days).
Medicine and flavor grows everywhere around us. Many useful medicinal and culinary plants can grow in our immediate environment that are useful for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. We close an unhealthy connection gap when we learn to recognize the variety of all life around us and what it has to offer, and when we use and perpetuate the knowledge of ancient traditional ways that humans kept themselves healthy and thriving for thousands of years. Often healing begins simply with this connection itself to tradition, nature, and the plants as individuals, then is further assisted by ingestion or topical application of the specific plants and their chemistry at the level of physical biology.
This class will meet monthly over the course of 6 months where students will create a medicinal and culinary herb garden - preparing and planting an on site plot at the Women's Environmental Institute's organic farmland. Students will be an active part in cultivating the plot including managing weeds, pests, pruning plants, and harvesting throughout the season. Over the class sessions students will keep a detailed cultivation journal as we cover information for developing successful growing techniques, garden map making, decisions around what to plant where, pros and cons of row cropping and grouping your plants, cultivating vs. wildcrafting, soil and roots, seeding, plant preferences (climate adaptations), growing behavior considerations (plants that spread, taproots, grow tall etc.), and timing of harvest. Planting an herb garden is great for having access to many common remedies and flavors that cannot be found in the wild. Since many likewise useful plants do grow and thrive on their own in wild or even urban habitats, we will explore and forage a variety growing outside of the plot as well.
In addition to the hands on creation of an herb garden, students will learn basic botany, the Latin binomial naming system, plant parts and systems, ethical wildcrafting, and key points of plant identification. This class will cover some basics in the medicinal and culinary usage of the plants we grow including specific applications, topics of plant energetics (warm cold, tense etc.), dosage and toxicity and making basic herbal preparations such as drying herbs, and processing plant material into tinctures, oils, syrups, and topical skin salves. There is no better way to learn the plants than to watch them grow!
Carolyn Smith has been a student of herbal medicine since 2008. Brought up in St. Paul, MN, with relatively little exposure to alternative healthcare, she began developing an awareness of plants and their medicinal value through classes with herbalist, Lise Wolff. She completed Lise's Three Seasons Herbal Intensive in 2010, and spent time as Lise's apprentice for several years. Working closely with Lise, Carolyn has learned: the power of subtle small doses of plants for healing; the use of local abundant plants for medicine; the value of carefully listening to people and their pulse to hear what they need; and listening to plants to learn what they do. Through this mentorship she has established her own practice and has been doing herbal consultations with clients for since 2013.
For 6 months over the summer of 2017 Carolyn worked as the full time intern at Red Clover Herbal Apothecary in Amery Wisconsin, founded and run by herbalist and herb farmer Nancy Graden, where she assisted with growing, cultivating and making plant medicine from the organic 3 acre farm. Carolyn has also worked several years in retail with natural health care products at Whole Foods and Mastel's Health Foods in St. Paul. She completed a 10 week intensive internship at HerbPharm during the summer of 2013, working on their organic farm in Williams, Oregon, cultivating medicinal plants and studying with a variety of herbalists, naturopaths, and herb farmers while there. She has studied with Martin Bulgerin (of BioPsciences Institute) on Flower Essences, taken classes with Matthew Wood, and studied ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and traditional plant usage in Hawaii with Kathleen Harrison, Dennis McKenna and Momi Subiono. She earned a Masters of Liberal Studies in Spring 2013 through the University of MN, incorporating classes from the Center for Spirituality and Healing into a thesis which focused on changing paradigms of body and healing metaphors through looking at alternative medicine.
For those with allergies, please note that this class may take place in WEI's Eco-Retreat Center which is home to two cats.