First: I connected with The Bioreserve, visited, and organized a subsequent field trip there for homeschooled kids in the region. This was a learning rich field botany experience for all of us and has led to requests and coordination for future homeschool classes there, which I'm in the midst of organizing. See other posts on trips to the Bioreserve.
Second: I shared all of my field botany adventures and discoveries and learning here publically so my readers could learn with me. I share my blog on my Nature's Healing FB page and sometimes share relevent posts on other pages as well. So all of my field botany explorations have been shared widely. Look for the tab Field Botany under "categories" on the side to read all of the posts.
Third: I have included wild plant identification walks and films into Online Herbal Summer Camp 2016, one of a series of seasonal online herbal sessions I offer. For this summer session, there are nearly 1,200 people in the group, so again, plant information is shared widely.
Here is a link to a plant identification video shared in Online Herbal Summer Camp. I am in the process of developing a new plant walk video. I have a new camera and it takes MUCH better footage!
I've also posted information and answered questions in Online Herbal Summer Camp on how to tell wild dandelion from look alikes, such as hawkweed, and how to harvest and use dandelion to make a salve with the blossoms. For the kids in Online Herbal Summer Camp, I made a dandelion movie with photos and with myself sitting in a circle of dandelions on a dock, in front of a beautiful lake, reading a story of the lifecycle of a dandelion. My daughter shared, with this new audience of nearly 1200, her video on how to identify plants in the mint family referencing Thomas Elpel's childrens' book Shanleya's Quest and showing the kids also how to make mint sun tea. Next week, my daughter and I will be sharing with the children a video of how to find wild plantain and how to use the leaves to make a plantain fairy drawing. I'll also be teaching the adults how to identify and use Plantago major.
Finally, I also visited the urban herb gardens of Underground Alchemy and had a tour and a lovely chat with owner Rebecca Hein. It was pretty amazing seeing the diversity of herbs she grows there on two empty city lots. Many herbs I recognized and knew. Others I had heard of but never seen growing, and some plants I recognized but didn't know their names until she told me. While this isn't field botany in the literal sense of plants growing in a field, it is field botany in the sense of looking at the field of botany and plant growth and preservation locally. Amongst other things, Rebecca has a lovely bed of endangered cohosh.
Diversity is evident in all of the botany posts I did with different plant families and species, most new to me. Oh the joy of discovery!! I'm thrilled to know beter now how to use a plant guide and, in addition to those suggested for the class, also found and bought another one on wild edibles that I love!
Innovation is evident in all that I do with Online Herbal Summer Camp, creating an online herbal community where people can both learn about herbs with a seasonal goal (this one being creating an herbal first aid kit) and learn about and explore concepts of nature connection. It draws on my diverse background in ecopscyhology, psychology, education, mindfulness, herbalism - and even this field botany class! Innovation was also evident in researching, organizing, and developing a means to pass on botany to children through the Bioreserve trips(s).
One of the best parts of the innovation of Online Herbal Summer Camp is that by reaching a wide audience I can keep the cost of the sessions low (this summer one is actually free, but that's another story) and can bring botanical knowledge and healthcare to a wide audience. For example, one woman lives in Europe in a nation that does not allow the sale of calendula cream for her eczema. She knew that in neighboring France it was widely used, albeit expensive. She was so thrilled to discover she can grow - or even purchase - calendula and simply and easily make her own calendula salve. This relates more to cultivated botanicals than wild, but it's still a good example of what happens when we think innovatively around botany and plant knowledge and how to spread it.
All that I do with herbs carries the goal of stewardship, teaching people how to use herbs and plants that grow around them or in their gardens; teaching children through organizing field trips for homeschoolers; and through the activities for children in Online Herbal Summer Camp. I'm passionate about herbalism being people's healthcare and about bridging access issues.
Online Herbal Summer Camp = community! Homeschool classes = community. Connecting with the Bioreserve and Underground Alchemy = community building.
Based on conversation with Rebecca Hein of Underground Alchemy, I've decided we're going to start a Capial District Herbal Collective this fall, comprised of healthcare workers using herbs, that will meet monthly for a potluck and a talk/discussion. Our goals are to build community, to share knowledge, and, ultimately, to bridge access issues in order to bring herbalism more widely into the local community. I've started to put the idea out there and people are excited! There's nothing like this at all in the region!
I also met with a local Iroquios Native American herbalist who grows vast quantities of herbs and uses them in formulations that she sells. I've not yet seen her garden, but I did bring her a feverfew plant since they sprout up prolifically in my garden and don't grow in hers - with the promise of some sweet grass in return. I chatted with another homeschool mom who makes and sells herbal remedies and has done so for years. We discussed who uses herbs locally and access issues. I also discovered, on our Bioreserve trip, that she's pretty amazing at wild plant identification! Finally, I connected with a member of American Herbalist Guild that can serve as a mentor as I venture into offering a bit of clinical work locally. So herbal community building seems to be a BIG theme for me in this season! I feel much like a spider, weaving a web. And in fact, that's exciting as it's one of the goals on my website homepage here!