We invite you to join us for our Community Herbalist Retreat - a three day plant centered intensive for practicing and aspiring herbalists in a beautiful rural Maine setting during the height of summer. We have an absolutely fabulous 3 days of learning in store for you!
Our retreat setting is the Blessed Maine Herb Farm - our lush herb gardens and the woodland, waterways and fields that surround us. We'll have use of our School House at the edge of the medicinal herb gardens for indoor classroom space and a tent as needed, and will set aside plenty of enjoyable time at the lake and walking the Medicine Trail through the woods down to the stream, between formal classes. If there is interest, we can visit the nearby ancient Native American petroglyphs on the Kennebec River as well.
This will be a relaxed, intimate, inspiring and rejuvenating time spent in the slow lane among the plants and with those who share a love of herbal medicines. We'll bask in the wisdom of some of our region's most experienced and accomplished herbalist healers.
We'll have the opportunity to review, sharpen and learn new medicine making skills; practice plant identification, learn about and experience a shamanic approach to herbal healing, make art, celebrate our beauty and our sexuality, deepen our understanding of the subtle energetics of the plants and enjoy ceremony, prayer, storytelling, singing and morning yoga...while enhancing our sense of mutual support as we move forward as community herbalists. Meals and all medicine making materials are included.
Our weekend begins on Friday morning (arrival/ set-up between 10AM-11:30) and continues to mid-afternoon on Sunday. Here's what we've got planned thus far:
Gail Faith Edwards - The Way of the Wild Heart approach to healing is an earth-honoring tradition that stretches back in time to our earliest ancestors and yet is essentially relevant for living in our present day world. Learning to open our wild hearts is a simple process that is easily learned. It requires diligent pursuit of a deep connectedness to the natural world. We'll discuss and experience this as we explore the Blessed Maine Herb Farm gardens together, identifying herbs and discussing their unique gifts.
Gail will also offer a class on Alembic Distillation. We'll set up the copper still, fill it with freshly gathered roses, and make a rose hydrosol together. While our distillation magic is taking place, we'll discuss the many ways we can make use of these distilled healing floral waters. All participants will receive a bottle of rose hydrosol to bring home with them.
Debbie Mercier - will be teaching a class on the Art of Percolation, or Displacement, in Making Plant Tinctures. This process can be an advantage for those who find themselves in a bind, needing a specific extract for a client which is not currently available in their apothecary. The percolation process takes 3 days as opposed to 14 days or longer for the maceration process, depending on the plant material used. Percolation results in a highly concentrated extract. This is a technique that does need physical demonstration and hands-on practice, which Deb will lead us through.
Deb Fate Mental - Will present a class on Using Plants for Clearing, Protection and Blessing - Plants for clearing, protection and blessing have a long history of use. She'll talk about how to use plants and plant materials in your daily life and in your healing practice and will cover a variety of techniques for doing so, including spiritual bathing and space clearing.
Susan Theberge - The Healing Power of Storytelling, Sharing and Story Receiving in Today’s World - How we are taught, what we learn and how we are healed from the ancestral gift of storytelling. In this presentation we will discuss the traditional roots of storytelling as a healing modality, the different types of stories that may be told and their effects on physical, mental and spiritual healing for individuals as well as communities. Story sharing will be welcomed.
Janet Edwards - Herbs for the Skin - Celebrating Our Beauty - Janet will talk about all natural skin care with student centered hands on demonstrations including an herbal steam, oatmeal scrub, a hydrating mist and moisturizer. Handouts will be available. This is always an awesome and highly enjoyable class and Janet will have some of her excellent beauty care products available for sale.
Becca Sarich - Herbal Aphrodisiacs - In this fun, and inspiring class we’ll explore the Western, Chinese, and Ayurvedic Herbs that can be added to daily life, or special moments to enliven libido & amplify sensuality. We’ll also cover some simple spices and sweets in your kitchen that can be turned into delightful treats to “heat” things up! We’ll learn about the Chinese Medicine perspective on strengthening libido, and some herbs to use as long term tonics. You’ll leave with lots of recipes and some ideas about how to spring up your daily life and special occasions!
Dan Bucciano - Cannabis Extraction Basics - During this class we’ll take a close look at several cannabis extraction methods and discuss the hows and whys of using them. Specifically we’ll cover making cannabis infused oils, alcohol extractions, decarboxylation (a process that converts THCA into THC), and the indications for using each of these extraction methods. We'll discuss the unique actions of THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and terpines and learn how these plant constituents are best extracted.
Suzanne Stone - Herbal Beer Making - Come journey through a his(her)story of fermented herbal brews including touching on who were the beer brewers traditionally in different cultures, beer making processes, yeast harvesting, honey, medicinal herbs used & their qualities, stories of protected family recipes & how hops, not as common before, came to be seen as “necessary” for brewing. We talk of the beer making process & view the supplies needed to begin brewing herbal beer so that you can feel confident in trying this at home. There will be a tasting of some herbal ale varieties and some brews available for sale as well.
Martha Ross-Vignola - Drawing in the Garden - What if you could create your own botanical work of art? I can teach you skills that will bring you closer and more intimate with the leaf and flower so that you will see another world seemingly open magically before your eyes. Even if you think you have no artistic abilities! In this class you will learn how to discover the deeper intricacies, patterns and colors of plants to create beautiful drawings. Please be sure to bring a set of sharpened colored pencils, paper, a regular #2 pencil and a dark ballpoint pen.
Lauren Pignatello - Plant Medicine for Activism and Emergency Situations. Lauren will talk about our plant allies for the field. She spent 3 weeks working as an herbal/ first aid medic at Standing Rock. She was the herbalist in the tipi at the Rosebud Sicangu Camp during her time there . She will share her experiences and plant and homeopathic remedies for crisis, emergency situations and activism in the street and field. Lauren uses many Native American herbal traditions passed on to her through a Passamaquoddy elder as well as European herbs and practices.
Eryn Klemenz - Solstice Songfire - Saturday night we'll gather together around the campfire for a very special joy filled ceremony. Whether you wish to share a song or simply listen, this will be a beautiful opportunity to participate in the magical power of sound in relationship to plants and seasons. Come with any or all: a nature inspired song/story/intention, a plant offering for the fire, an instrument and an open wild heart for planting these seeds into the garden of our hearts-community for summer solstice!
Peggy Hamilton will start our day off in beautiful form with a gently paced Hatha Yoga class to open the body, the mind and the heart in preparation for a day of learning and sharing.
SEVEN EXQUISITE ORGANIC MEALS AND CAMPING ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR FEE. All our meals will be freshly prepared with local, organically grown produce, and this is included in your fee. In fact, our mealtimes are sure to be one of the many highlights of our time together!
Our chef, Rosa Jane Rosario is a master of the culinary arts and is well known and respected for her food preparation skills as well as her beauty of presentation. She was raised on the Blessed Maine Herb Farm, where she studied by candlelight and learned to cook on a wood stove. Her love of preparing fresh wholesome meals with local ingredients began when she was a young girl, the eldest of four, who loved nothing more than to go out to the garden, gather a basket full of fruits and vegetables, bring it back to the kitchen and proceed to create a tasty meal. Proud of her Italian heritage, Rosa has traveled extensively throughout Italy and regularly spends time in her ancestral village in the Apennine Mountains of Southern Italy. Italian culture–especially its approach to the culinary arts–has greatly influenced both Rosa’s relationship to food and the way she views her role as a community chef. A highly skilled and creative cook who has mastered a diversity of food preparation styles, Rosa knows that the most important ingredient in any meal is love.
You will need to bring a tent and camping supplies if you intend to stay over, a knife, basket or bag, notebook and pen, and personal items of choice. We have a limited amount of rustic indoor sleeping space for those who prefer indoor accommodations. You will still need to bring a sleeping pad, blankets, etc. Please let us know when you register that you would like this choice.
A list of local motels and bed & breakfasts will be provided to those who ask.
We welcome your nursing infants and toddlers, however they will not be permitted into class sessions, unless sleeping in their mother's arms or actively nursing. We will have a child care area set up with a caretaker and planned activities during class sessions. There is a $50 additional charge for child care, to compensate the caretakers. See the link below for this service.
Please note that the retreat is a smoke free zone. Dogs, drugs and alcohol are not permitted.
We ask that all cell phones be turned off during classes and we have a strict no cell phones in the gardens policy to protect our pollinators. You may use your cell phone, as necessary, in the driveway area.
Debbie Mercier is a clinical herbalist and the owner of Greenwood Herbals in Limerick, Maine. She has been teaching and practicing for over 15 years. She is a well respected herbalist, teaches yearly apprenticeship classes, consults with clients, runs an herbal clinic and is an expert on Lyme disease.
Deb Fate Mental - has been growing herbs and making medicines for over 7 years. She began working in the community as an herbalist in 2011 and as a shamanic practitioner in January 2013. She sees clients, teaches, grows herbs, makes plant medicines and enjoys life. She has studied with Gail Faith Edwards, Margi Flint, Leontine Hartzell and others. Her mainstream academic work includes a BA with Honors in Anthropology from Kent State University and an MBA from Bryant College. Deb is a student reviewer on the staff of the Blessed Maine Herb Farm School of Herbal Medicine.
Janet Edwards began her plant education in her grandmother's garden at age 4 when she was presented with a peppermint leaf to chew. She is a self taught wild hearted herbalist who has attended many workshops, has spent years in her own gardens with the plants and has a large gardening library. She grows most of the herbs she uses in her products and produces her fabulous skin care line under the name of Mountain Mama of Maine.
Susan Theberge is a wild-hearted herbalist, a professional pharmacist and a master story teller, with a joyful approach to sharing her life and lessons through the spoken word. She's also a dedicated homesteader and a student reviewer on the staff at the Blessed Maine Herb Farm School of Herbal Medicine.
Becca Sarich is a Certified Nurse-Midwife and Clinical Herbalist specializing in women’s health. She has a private practice (both locally and online) for women including women’s health consultations and transformative bodywork as well as online programs. She has a specialty in women’s sexual health and counseling. Her mission is to help women reclaim their sexy and feel at home in their bodies, minds and spirit.
Martha Ross-Vignola - Since retiring from a much loved career teaching primary special education, Martha embraces nature and life long learning as a gardener, herbalist, yoga teacher and flower essence practitioner. She has taught children’s yoga and guided meditation in her classrooms and adult yoga in several local studios. Martha has studied at Greenwood Herbals with Debbie Mercier and with Christine Tolf at Lichenwood Herbals. As a consultant with the National Writing Project, she also guides local writer’s retreats. In her quiet moments, Martha enjoys drawing plants and sees it as a rare beautiful gift she can share with others.
Suzanne Stone has been studying herbs & teaching children about the plant world for much of her life. Along with her first apprenticeship with an herbalist in the late 90’s, she is a graduate of the Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine in Portland, OR in 2007, & has recently been deepening her herbal study with Gail Faith Edwards. She began brewing herbal ales a decade ago with the wish to secretly offer herbal medicine to her friends through fermented beverages. This began her passion for herbal ale brewing & for developing delicious, medicinal & thought-provoking herbal ales.
Dan Bucciano is an aromatherapist, massage therapist, Reiki master, electrical engineer, published professional pyrotechnician, instructor and the proprietor of NEAT Products, a small essential oil product company. His passion for essential oils began almost 50 years ago in the late 60's when he was in his teens. During the last 6 years his focus has been on cannabis-based medicines and finding the best ways to extract them for specific medical conditions.
Eryn Klemenz - Songwriting and herbal medicine have always been a part of Eryn's life, but after 10 years of making her own plant medicines and traveling the world exploring both music and plants, these passions have shown her how deeply they intertwine in their ability to heal and transform, from personal to planetary. After apprenticing at The Caretaker's Garden in 2008, Eryn now deepens her herbal study with Gail Faith Edward's courses along with her home study in her garden in Maine. She recently released a CD of some of her songs and loves most to sing & play music for plants, children and animals. She envisions a world where both music & plants are more expressed and honored in community.
Lauren Pignatello is a traditional herbalist and a mother of 7 from Whitefield, Maine. She is the owner of Swallowtail Farm and Creamery, producer of dairy and farm products, as well as owner of Milk and Honey of Swallowtail Farm - an apothecary and farm cafe in Portland, Maine. Lauren has been using and studying herbs since a teenager. She consults with people in her apothecary, teaches and creates herbal products.
Peggy Hamilton is a graduate of Yoga Spirit Studios and is a Registered Yoga Instructor. She owns Raven Hill Yoga Studio where she provides yoga for all ages and abilities. Teaching the importance of connecting mind, body, & spirit through movement and breath work.
Gail Faith Edwards, is a Community Herbalist with more than thirty five years experience. She is the author of four books on herbal medicine, operates a vibrant medicinal herb farm, school and herbal products business and consults with clients. She teaches internationally and has students around the world. Some of the places Gail has taught include the Sambhavana Clinic, Bhopal, India; The gardens of Monte San Giacomo and Giardino della Minerva, Salerno, Italy; in Gdansk, Poland, the Amber Museum in Kaliningrad, Russia, Yale School of Nursing; University of Maine, College of the Atlantic and Herbal Conferences as well as other venues.
Our schedule for this year's Community Herbalist Retreat will be revised as the time grows nearer...this is a sample schedule from the 2015 retreat.
10:00 -12:00 – arrival/camp set up
Opening prayer 12:00 noon
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:45 – 3:15 – in the garden with Gail
3:30 – 5:00 lake
5:30 - 6:30 dinner
7:00 – 8:15 Susan Theberge
7:00 - 8:00 - Yoga
7:00 coffee and tea –7:30 – 8:30 breakfast served
9 - 10:15 Aaron Mc Kusnik
10:30 – 12:00 Deb Mercier
12:15 – 1:15 lunch
1:30 - 3:00 lake
3:30 – 5:00 Rosanne Tartaro
5:15 – 6:15 dinner
6:30 – 7:45 Deb Fate Mental
Sunday morning yoga
7 – 7:45 Yoga
7 – breakfast finished by 8:15
8:30 - 9:45 free time
10:00 – 11:15 Gail Faith Edwards
11:30 – 12:30 Janet Edwards
12:30 – 1:30 lunch
2:00 - 3:00 closing ceremony
3 - 4 PM camp breakdown and depart.
Note: If you are staying off the farm please arrive in time for the opening ceremony at 12 noon on Sunday.
Register and pay in full for this class at the link provided at the top of this page.