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Announcing 2011 Medicinal/Edible Plant Workshops



First of all, thanks to all of you who’ve patiently waited for me to re-launch the medicinal/edible plant workshops. Our successful program came to an abrupt halt when I left the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Preserve and its taken so very long to find another suitable arrangement & location. We needed a comfortable place for people to stay overnight, easy access, and use of well conserved wilderness lands. Thanks to Circle Yoga Shala and Arco Iris (owners of Wild Magnolia), we’ve got what it takes to provide the best learning opportunity for mastering the use of our important botanicals.

Most of this year’s workshops will follow this format :

  • Focus Plant:  Students will study a single plant in its natural environment. They will be able to identify it in the wild, understand its therapeutic uses and (if it applies) it’s other uses (food, cordage, fire starter, etc.). Students will learn about the plant’s energetics and how its used in different schools of herbal medicine as well as modern pharmacological applications. Sensory and journal exercises deepen the relationship & memory (so bring drawing materials). Want to bring this plant into your garden? Methods of propagation and growing are also covered. Through the year, we will revisit plants to see what they’re doing and how their appearance changes. Each plant is scheduled for study during it’s peak season for harvesting, or, when it’s most easily identified.
  • Therapeutics: What does it mean to say a plant is a diaphoretic or a nervine, etc.? When does one want to use a warming diaphoretic, or a cooling diaphoretic? When various conditions arise, how is one to know which category of herb to use; how to select the most appropriate herbs from that category; how to use them, how to prepare them? What are the safety issues? Students will gain a practical understanding of therapeutics in relation to the focus plant.
  • Preparation Methods: During weekend workshops, students will learn one of the methods of preparation. Many plants give up their active principles better to one or two specific methods of preparation. We’ll learn about decoctions, for example, along with the focus plant that is best used that way.

March 19-20

Location: Circle Yoga Shala
Focus Plant: Sassafras
Therapeutic category: Warming Diaphoretic
Preparation method: Decoction

One of our more important spring trees,  I’m not sure if  its even legal to live in the Ozarks without knowing everything about it! On Saturday the workshop begins at 9:00am and lasts until 7:00pm. Students may stay overnight in our guest quarters or camp out (see below). On Sunday, we begin again at 9:00 am and finish at 6:00pm.

Accommodations: We’re fortunate to have the beautiful facilities of Circle Yoga Shala available to us. Students may choose the “economy” route and camp out in our camp ground for $10 overnight. This includes restroom and shower facilities. Bring your own camping gear.
Or, they can sign up for a room in the guest accommodations. A private room is $35. We also have a 4-bed dormitory available for $25. We can provide beds for a maximum of 10 people so sign up early. There’s no requirement to stay overnight for local residents.

Workshops held at Circle Yoga Shala: Students are free to either sign up for organic, gourmet vegetarian meals prepared by our Ayurvedic chef, Matthew Krepps, or bring their own meals.
Breakfast $10
Lunch $12
Dinner $12
Please let us know if you want us to provide meals 5 days in advance. This gives Matt time to sprout grains, make his ferments and other days-long-advance preparations. But late-comers won’t be turned away from the table!
Depending on what’s available, wild foods collected during our walks are part of the meal for everyone.

Availability: Class size is limited to 15. Sign-up closes 5 days before the workshop.

Payment & Schedule:
A full-day workshop usually runs ten hours including breaks. Two-day workshops are structured to allow students the option of taking only one day when they can’t attend both days. Schedules and details of a workshop are posted here and at 6 weeks in advance. Because the costs of a workshop may vary (lodging & meals are fixed at the above rate and are extra), and because we don’t want fees to discourage anyone who wants to learn about plants from attending, simply contact us about any workshop you want to sign up for.

Contact Info:
Phone number: 870-861-5175

I’m adding a page to this blog to give you the year’s schedule, it should be up in a day or two. Our sessions at Wild Magnolia and those with Kent Bonar will be listed.


Sunshine in the Rain


Housebound for another week of storms, the rains lifted Friday afternoon for our weekend workshop on making plant medicines, then started right back up. My goal this week is indoors anyway. Crafting and fine tuning this blog. I just added a forum, look for the little widget to the lower right. WordPress doesn’t support forums so this is an external forum. Please let me know if you’re comfortable using it.

And we have another writer, Sasha Daucus in Missouri, all set to shed some light on the “Grandmothers of Dauphine Island” for starters. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us Sasha! Any other herbalists who want to contribute postings here?

Our OTS/Earth Offering workshops are really starting to feel like a family affair. New folks coming in quickly morph into “old friends” as we share a love of nature and her healing touch. The camping with our wilderness skills experts from Ozark Trackers is pure fun, camp kitchen, conversation around the campfire late into the night, nature awareness exercises…really rounds out the working with plants.

We had an emergency room physician from Missouri whose grandmother was a granny woman. He mentioned that there were also “male granny women”…called “root doctors”. I think we need a “root doctor” revival, too. There were two medical doctors and a nurse in attendance who recognize that its time for doctors to learn how to make their own plant medicines again. Very encouraging to see doctors returning to their roots. And I might add, they’re supportive of a granny woman revival.

I just loved this class…its diversity (doctors,nurse,attorney,stock broker, attorney,psychologist,computer techs, etc.) and the unity between us in regards to the technologies of independence, the ability of nature to restore. Forgot to take photos (again). Had the whole gang crowded around the woodstove in my barn loft enduring a playful kitten while we detailed various ways to make tinctures,infusions,decoctions. We made a hydrosol of Juniper…divine, try it! I made a hydrosol of Sweet Annie (heavenly fragrance) for a lotion. We finished things off with some of the basics on infused oils and ointments. Then ran out of time!

We also take hikes to identify the edible/medicinal neighborhood. Located a sizeable patch of horsetail and black cohosh (no, not growing together). The horsetail has to be around 6-8 feet tall, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself.

Yesterday I learned that there’s an article on the web stating that Elderberry fosters a cytokine storm so don’t take it for H1N1 flu. I disagree and will explain why in my next post. For now, would you share your thoughts on using any of the following for H1N1 = Goldenseal, Echinacea, Elderberry?

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