Thursday, May 16, 2024

Generational Herbal Education

People often ask how I got into herbs.  I often wonder how one could NOT be into herbs, to be honest.  I played under pine trees, using the dropped needles to stuff between the sticks that formed the walls of our forts.  We wandered the woods with our grandfather, where he found wild fruit and shared information about plants he knew.  We gardened, grew food and flowers, and my sister and I went through the succulent craze in the 1970s together.  Let's face it.  If you think about it, plants are in every aspect of life if we notice them. 
Fast forward to the early 1990s when we opened our herb shop at the renaissance festival. 

At the time, there were very few options for learning about herbs.  There weren't even many books, but like just about anyone who starts really diving into the many wonders of herbs, we picked up Rosemary Gladstar's books.  She taught us the basic how-tos of creating herbal products, and we loved jumping off from her recipes to produce wondrous things for our shop. 
Over the years, available learning options improved.  We read at least 100 books and took every class that came available to us locally. Eventually I started The Essential Herbal magazine, and my sister (now retired) started a wholesale soap company, Lancaster County Soapworks, Etc.  I've even written (or edited) quite a few books myself.

I always wished that I had some kind of certificate.  Over the past 30 years, I just felt unfinished.
My daughter Molly grew up as an herbie kid.  She could be found in the meadow with onion grass hanging from her little lips.  She found relief in chamomile and licorice root.  She learned how to look for things like plantain for stings and aloe for burns.
When she graduated from college, the plan was to come to work on the magazine with me.  The very first thing I did was sign her up for Rosemary's "The Science & Art of Herbalism"course.  She set to work on the course and enjoyed all the projects that were a part of the homework for each section.  She loved it, and it gave her solid footing.  Here is her review of the course.  Mama's wisdom only goes so far when you're in your 20's and 30's...  Later she went on to take another 9 month course with Susan Hess, and then apprenticed with Susanna Reppert for 2 years.  Can I just say that I envy this kid???
As it turned out, the big wide world beckoned, and Molly heeded the call.  She's done some traveling, and I can't blame her one bit.  Some day the herbs will call her back to them.  

After her first "14er" mountain hike in Colorado.  A 14er is 14K feet in elevation.

I decided it was time for me to have an herbal diploma/certificate and also enrolled in "The Science & Art of Herbalism"course.  There were still things that were new to me after all these years.  My sister took it at the same time and it was really fun to work on the homework projects together. 
I am very proud to have my certificate!

Herbs will never not be my focus in life, and I'll never be done learning.