(July 2, 2022)—Ah, plants! They surround us and blanket our Earth with such grace and beauty. I have always felt such a love and desire for learning about naturopathic medicine, as well as the variations and impact of plant use throughout history and in the present day.
Although my family resides in California, I have gained the most experience with herbal medicine, farming, and gardening in Hawai‘i, and had never ventured to the Southwest to encounter its nature. And what a vastly different environment this is! After the first week or so, I asked one of our instructors about the possibility of doing my final project presentation on herbal medicine. My initial primary focus was to research Indigenous plant use, but I eventually found that things organically fell into place on their own.
I began expressing my interest to locals in the communities around our field school. Many offered their own uses, as well as the knowledge they had learned from books, experimenting, or other herbalist teachers or healers. I was fortunate to meet with one individual in particular who thoroughly inspired me with both knowledge and practice. They offered me book suggestions and areas for harvesting—and from there I took off like a baby bird on its first flight!
On the heels of this experience, I gazed upon every plant with the understanding that each one could offer something magical to the world. I had many harvesting days—in various areas around Cliff and beyond—and in the end, I had heaping piles of plants that I could identify and research. (And daydream about my future, where I hope to find myself in a little shack in the woods filled with dried and fresh herbs, tinctures, salves, and delicious recipes and blends I have made myself from the plants that naturally surround me. A girl can dream!)
On the day of the fair, I was anxious and excited about our turnout, and was pleasantly surprised that we had more than 60 people visiting! How wonderful it was to be able to chat with others about the medical uses of plants wherein I was even offered some knowledge I had not gathered by local people who use plant medicine themselves! Overall, it was a highly gratifying experience, and I am forever inspired.