Community Herbalist Retreat
It’s a go! We’ve missed you and look forward to welcoming you back to the farm this coming June! We will require a negative Covid test, taken on Friday morning before coming, for participation.
We invite you to join us for our Community Herbalist Retreat - an annual three day plant centered celebration for practicing and aspiring herbalists, held in a beautiful rural Maine setting during the height of summer. We’ve had our event on hold for the past two years and resume this year.
We have an absolutely fantastic weekend of non-stop herbal 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 plan plenty of enjoyable time for walking the Medicine Trail and splashing around in the Wesserunsett Stream between formal classes.
The Community Herbalist Retreat is 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.
This sense of community, of building a cohesive plant honoring, reciprocal, eco friendly, woman centered, entirely magical, deeply spiritual, loosely woven, yet immensely supportive group of like minded people, all coming together for the weekend...well, it's a lot of fun and it's an excellent herbal learning experience, on so many levels, and, honestly, it's deep soul nourishing inspiration of the finest kind.
Bring your notebook, yes, but also bring your curiosity, your child spirit, your willingness to enjoy and relax, to share, to drop your mask and relate soul to soul in a loving and supportive plant centered community setting.
Come play...we'll be celebrating our beauty, deepening our understanding of the medicinal as well as magical properties of plants, learning about medicinal mushrooms and tree medicines and exploring the ins and outs of medicinal Cannabis. We're going to create a few Cannabis medicines and edibles, make amulets, poppet dolls and herb bundles, and practice plant identification skills...we're also going to journey within, tend to our inner selves as well as dance with plant spirits and learn to sing a sacred water song. During the course of the weekend, we will rock ceremony, prayer, dream, storytelling, singing and of course, our morning yoga...while enhancing our sense of mutual support as we build confidence and skills necessary to move forward as community herbalists. Seven fabulous meals, camping and all materials are included in the fee.
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:
Tending Our Inner Landscapes - Suzanne Stone
Even as we tend to our physical landscapes, we can also care for the inner terrains of our beings. Calling upon visioning & deep listening, we can care for places in our physical body that need attention by working in our spirit realms, since all is linked. As herbal medicine is story medicine, in this class, I will share my healing journey that led me to a practice of planting my inner topography with healing herbs. This work with the green allies has resonated profoundly with me, allowing me to be an advocate for my own growth. During this class, we will experiment with this healing practice by journeying to an area of our body that is being brought to our awareness, meeting this place as an inner landscape. We will see what care is being called for & who steps forward as allies & guides. There will be time for journaling & sharing if desired.
Suzanne Stone has been fortunate to study herbs & to teach children & adults about the plant world for much of her life. Along with her own research & life experiences of learning from the plants & herbs themselves, she has studied at the Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine in Portland, OR as well as with our beloved teacher Gail Faith Edwards. Suzanne currently teaches a five month hands-on herbal medicine making course, among other courses, along the coast, under the name of Moon of Hyldemoer Herbals.
Healing Lyme and other Tick-borne Diseases with Herbs - Cecilia Quimby
During this class we will review preventative measures, early treatment after a tick bite and new information on the effective treatment of chronic Lyme and co-infections. There will be discussion of the use of herbs to heal Lyme disease and also the use of Baltic amber to repel ticks, used preventively.
Cecilia Quimby is a Registered Nurse, for 40 plus years, and is currently working in Southern Maine in Home Health. She studied herbalism with Gail Faith Edwards, Mischa Schuler and Deb Mercier. Cecilia is a longtime Tai chi practitioner.
Medicinal Mushrooms Kathy Gray
Kathy Gray is eager to share her passion for wild mushrooms. She'll give pointers on safely identifying them and preparing them for food and medicine. No doubt, there will be some anecdotes as well.
Kathy Gray is a community herbalist, energy worker, and forager of wild food and medicine. She lives off-grid in the Moosehead Lake Region, but also loves to learn from travel and adventure. Home is where the wild heart is!
Eco Dying with Plant Imprints with Pam Post – to be posted soon
Cannabis as Medicine Julie Hundley
With the legalization of cannabis in many states, more and more individuals are asking if cannabis can help them with their own physical and emotional stresses. There is much confusion about topics such as CBD and THC, which products and strains are best for particular conditions, and how much is the correct dose? We will examine this sacred plant closely for her answers. I will offer my growing experience, my knowledge of the medicine and how to use her effectively and respectfully. Participants will be provided with a complete overview of how to produce your own cannabis medicine or how to find a product that best fits your needs. Everyone will take home samples of tinctures and salve. Lots of resources and references will be provided.
Julie Hundley taught adolescents for 25 years in the public school system and several years ago an injury left er with physical limitations, chronic pain and into retirement. The options available at the time (drugs, surgical procedures, etc.), did nothing to relieve her pain and her life spiraled into depression and hopelessness. “I tell people now that cannabis saved my life. While there was some help from cannabis with my pain, the real benefit was in developing a relationship with this amazing sacred plant while she guided me on a journey of healing.” Julie learned cannabis cultivation methods and has attended conferences in Arcata, CA, Montpelier, VT, and various other New England venues. She studied with doctors Ethan Russo, Kevin Spellman, Donald Abrams, John Woytowicz, Dustin Sulak, and Jody Noe, as well as herbalist teachers such as Tammi Sweet.
Making Edibles with Cannabis Ryan Jackson
Cannabis is so generous with her medicine. Eating cannabis-infused foods is a beautiful way to receive her gifts. We have all heard horror stories about people eating too much of an infused goodie and having a very bad experience. However, it can be very gentle and healing if you have an idea of what you are eating! In this hands-on class, we will go over the basics of making your own hemp and medicinal cannabis infused fats and oils. We will discuss how to use them as well as finding your appropriate dose. With a bit of basic math, you can make your own cannabis edibles without the fear of tripping for hours! Making your own edibles is wildly cost effective compared to what they are sold for. This is a game changer for those who rely on cannabis for regular help and support. Together, we will use cannabis infused fats to make (and sample!) chai and dark-chocolate-rose truffles.
Ryan Marie Jackson lives with her husband, two daughters and Great Dane in Massachusetts. She is an herbalist to friends and family and has coached many through various healing nutritional programs. She is a trained adult and kids yoga teacher but spends most days home-schooling her children and playing with plants in the kitchen. She was drawn to herbalism via diet and gardening about 20 years ago. After having children, herbs became an intuitive way to care for her family and she has been studying whole-heartedly since. She has attended many classes throughout the years, learning from well-respected herbalists from around the world. Definitely a wild-hearted herbalist, her inspiration comes from the plant spirits and the mind-blowing science of it all!
Dancing with Wood Betony Deb Fate Mental
We’ll be discussing the often overlooked but immensely helpful plant Wood Betony. She was extremely popular in medieval Europe and is seeing a resurgence today. We’ll take a guided journey to her and discuss how she like to help humans. Bring a scarf, handkerchief or other eye covering (a sleep mask works really well!) for the guided journey. Be prepared to move afterwards as we dance the plant!
Deb Fate-Mental is a bean feasa, an archetypal Wise Woman, and has been in practice for almost a decade. Her healing expertise combines traditional plant lore with authentic, old-fashioned shamanism and spiritual healing that is rooted deeply into her animistic ancestral beliefs. Deb helps people Remember themselves via healings, classes and readings so they may re-connect with Nature and the Divine.
The Sacred Water Song Nancy Lovelace
Nancy is going to talk to us about the sacredness of water and teach us a traditional First Nations song to honor water. Nancy will explain the history of the water song, why it is sung and display a water bowl and talk about its creation. Nancy will hand out cards to each of us with the phonetic song words written on them. We will sing this song together down at the stream. We will stand in the stream, or at water’s edge as we sing and turn to face each of the directions. If we decide to take a spontaneous trip to the river, we will sing it there too!
Nancy lives in the Western Mountains of Maine. Since her retirement as a massage therapist she spends her days enjoying landscape photography, pyrographing gourds, wild gathering, reading, walking her dog Appy and "being" in nature. Her one major question of life...What next?
Color Medicines with Gail Faith Edwards
We’re going to use plants to create our own pigments and then turn the pigments into watercolor paints.
Fa Lo Santuccio, Do a Little Holy Thing - - Gail Faith Edwards
The practice of Benedicaria is all pervasive in Southern Italia. These spiritual practices and traditional ways of restoring health to body, mind and spirit, long referred to as "just the way we do things", became known as Benedicaria, a term that links spiritual faith, from the dawn of time, to our physical well-being. We're going to continue exploring the pharmacopeia and practices of the Benedetta, and also to deepen the dream work we began a couple of years ago. This work will be informally woven into our weekend together.
Gail Faith Edwards, is a Community Herbalist with more than thirty five years experience. She is the author of several books on herbal medicine, operates a vibrant medicinal herb farm, school and herbal products business and consults with clients. She teaches internationally, leads sacred journeys to Southern Italy twice a year and has students around the world.
Friday night story telling - Gail will read the story of the Sybil of Cumae. This tale gives us some ideas regarding the path we must take to be true to ourselves and to those we work with as community herbalists and healers.
Morning Yoga with Ryan Jackson
It has been a long time since we have been together! During our reunion, we will meet amidst the garden to practice gentle and healing yoga. It is known that we store trauma in our tissues and after the past couple of years, we could all use a welcome release. This yoga practice is designed to calm the nervous system, lessen emotional distress and release stored trauma and grief from our bodies. Bring your yoga mat and let’s come together for some rest and restorative yoga to begin our days.
Sunday Beauty Bar – Our annual Beauty Bar leader, Janet Edwards, isn’t able to make it this year due to family commitments. So, we’re on our own! We’ve got the facial steamer, a bunch of face cloths and some lovely beauty care products, including a Baltic amber facial scrub we can try out. You bring whatever you have in the homemade beauty care department to share and we’ll get ourselves all shined up and beautified together.
Also - walk down the Medicine Trail to the Stream…plant identification along the way. Bring your bathing suit and comfortable walking shoes. We have 50 acres of gardens, fields and woods to roam!
Saturday night fire, Summer Solstice Ceremony, magical plant gathering. We will have the opportunity to release that which no longer serves us and welcome fresh, new energy into our lives. This will be an event full of symbolism ~ with drumming, energy clearing, a little drama, and infinite transformative potential. We will be gathering herbs for magical purposes, as is traditional on this sacred night, after the ceremony.
Sunday morning magic hour - creating amulets, poppet dolls and herb bundles.
Sunday morning Barter Faire
Blessing of Roses Ceremony will close our weekend.
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.
Choose your camping spot in the herb gardens or up in the new orchard, next to the newly planted pollinator habitat, an acre full of native wildflowers. The views are beautiful up there and the sky is so big. You can get fresh wild water at the spring or use the water provided from our kitchen. It all comes from the same fabulously pristine source, an ancient glacial lake buried deep under the earth here.
You will need to bring a tent and camping supplies if you intend to camp, 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. Again, these spaces are limited and assigned on a first come, first served basis.
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.
Our schedule for the 2020 Community Herbalist Retreat will follow the following pattern and will be updated soon.
10:00 -12:00 – arrival/camp set up
Opening prayer 12:00 noon
1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
2 – 3:00 – Wild Water/Blessed Essence with Kathy Gray
3:00 – 5:00 Soap Making with Susan Theberge
5:00 - 5:30 Vervain with Deb Fate Mental
5:30 - 6:30 dinner
7:00 – 8:30 Storytelling with Gail
7:00 - 8:00 - Yoga with Martha Vignola
7:00 coffee and tea
7:30 – 8:30 breakfast served
7 - 8:30 Melissa Boynton will be available in the herb gardens to introduce you to plants as sentient beings. She will be discussing Heart centered Herb Gardening, Harvesting and Processing.
9 - 11:45 visit to the South Solon Meeting House
12:00 – 1:00 lunch
1:15 – 2:15 Invasive Plants with Susan Stone.
2:15 - 3:30 Breastfeeding with Natalie Hessel
3:45 – 5:00 Journeys to the Ancestors, Deb Fate Mental
5:15 – 6:15 dinner
7:00 – 8:00 Fa Lo Santuccio with Gail Faith Edwards
8:00 - 10:00 Summer Solstice Fire - Magical Plant Gathering
7:00 - 8:00 yoga with Martha Vignola
7:00 coffee and tea
7:30 – 8:15 breakfast served
7:30 - 11:15 Melissa will be in the gardens - you are free to walk the Medicine Trail down to the stream.
8:30 - 10:00 – Creating Protective Amulets and Fumigation Wands/Smudge Sticks.
10:00 - 11:00 - Barter Fair! Bring your herbal or other creations to trade!
11:15 – 12:30 Janet Edwards - Beauty Care
12:30 – 1:30 lunch
2:00 - 3:30 rose blessing/procession to spring/honoring Our Lady of the Healing Spring/closing ceremony
3;30 - 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 Friday.
Register and pay in full for the Community Herbalist Retreat at the link provided at the top of this page. If you are a currently enrolled student in any herb school in New England, you are eligible for a 10% discount on our registration fee. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.