Herbal Apprenticeship ’11
I’ve signed up to a ‘Springfield Sanctuary Apprenticeship‘; a yearlong project run by ‘Kitchen Herbwife‘ Sarah Head which offers ‘the opportunity to learn more about growing, harvesting and working with herbs to improve personal and family health and wellbeing.’ These pages will document my experiences and the things I learn over the twelve-month period.
At the start we were asked to provide a list of twenty herbs to study and get to know over the year. Here were my ’20-and-then-some’:
sage, rosemary, yarrow, horsetail, elder, hawthorn, lesser celendine, meadowsweet, nettle, deadnettles, selfheal*, comfrey, burdock, great mullein (aaron’s rod)*, ground elder, wild carrot** (if it grows; cow parsley if not), sweet violet, ground ivy, vetch (common), hemp agrimony*
and then maybe mugwort, tansy**, feverfew**, oxeye daisy, st john’s wort and one of the chamomiles
* = plants I’ve seen where I go in Italy during the summer, but may choose to plant here
** = plants I’d have to grow from seed(lings)
All others I have access to within reasonable walking distance
Sarah then asked for my ‘best hopes’ for my apprenticeship. Here’s what I came up with:
I’d like to branch out and deepen my knowledge of locally growing medicinal plants and to help spread this knowledge to help the people close to me lessen their dependency on industrially-produced cosmetics & medicines and build up the confidence in their ability to do these things for themselves, incidentally preparing them for the time when the former will increasingly cease to be available.
More specifically I hope to get over a learned ‘I’m all right, Jack’, taking-for-granted attitude to my own health by learning to listen & pay attention to my own body and its various needs, and I look forward to ‘familiaris[ing myself] with a variety of body processes’ as a means to this end.
I would like to broaden and deepen my empathy with the plants growing wild and not-so-wild in my locality, and see where this takes me along ‘stewardship’ lines – awareness of which plant communities to encourage/protect, how to deal with ‘invasives’, how to help land/soils recover from the various assaults of building ‘development’, agriculture, industry, pollution etc.
I also want to learn more basic gardening techniques, and would be interested in planting & caretaking a herb bed of my own. Basically I want to be a wildlife guru with green things, insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, fungi springing up wherever I step, but I understand that might take more than a year ;-)