frequently asked questions about my herb work...
So, you're interested in my classes/consults/plant work, but have some
questions; here's a bit of info...
Wow, most of your
classes are long...
Yup; I tend to do long classes so I can
take lots of questions and explain everything well.
But, all end times are "ish", and we often finish
beforehand. I figure I'd rather get done early
than keep you all longer than you planned (though that
sometimes happens if people keep asking questions and no
one tells me we were supposed to end already).
Your end time ends
in "-ish"? What does that mean?
If I have my say, all class times end
in "-ish" (though not all hosts are comfortable with
that kind of vagueness.
Really, there are a few reasons for this: In each
class, I have a certain amount of info I want to cover.
Usually, the class is long enough that I can do so
before the end time. If that's the case, and
people don't want to stick around for informal after
class Q&A, they're more than welcome to head home and
have some extra time to run an errand, grab a bite, or
just sit in the woods for awhile. I try to not
pass the proposed end time as best I can, but sometimes
when participants ask lots of questions, it happens.
Also, sometimes at evening herb walks it gets dark
before the sunrise/sunset website told me it would.
Maybe it's cloudy or something. Hence: "-ish".
For my part, I usually stay the full length of proposed
class time as long as anyone also wants to. At
walks, darkening skies don't deter me (after all, having
it get dark on you while you're wildcrafting is a
reality). I turn it into part of the class.
Do you still do
walks/classes if it's raining or snowing?
Yup; most of the time. I've only
ever cancelled once, because lightning was literally
hitting the ground and the rain was literally a
deluge... while I might still enjoy a walk in
such weather, I recognize it's not really conducive to
learning. But for run of the mill rain or snow, I
will still hold classes.
Many, perhaps even most, weather issues
can be handled by being prepared for weather: if you're
coming to a walk, please bring clothes to keep you warm
(or, when appropriate, cool) and dry. A rain coat,
poncho, rain pants, and waterproof shoes are awesome
things to own and will prevent most class relates
Any questions the day of,
of course try calling/emailing me, but be aware I may be
in transit and away from a phone in the 1 1/2 to 2 hours
before class starts (which is to say, yes, that does
mean what it says: I don't have a cell phone). I'd
probably post any cancellations to my email list and on
Wow, your classes
offer a lot of info for how much they cost... you should
Wow, your classes
are expensive, don't you do anything cheaper? I
want to come but can't afford it...
I've been asked/told both of these...
My classes are generally on par with or
a bit less than comparable classes offered by someone with
comparable knowledge; sometimes by a little, sometimes
by an awful lot. Very few people give the quantity
and quality of written material I offer with my classes
(usually over 20 pages). Still, I understand that
sometime people still don't have the expendable cash to
come, and whether or not its a fair price, it's still
too much to make happen. To address this
issue, I always offer free and real cheap classes/talks
and events every year. They're not as long as my
full length classes, and sometimes don't include the handouts, but
they're still quite good. Check out the
classes page for info on these.
You can also talk to me about hosting
or setting something up; I'm happy to do this (as
practicality allows), and will work with you to make
I occasionally am asked about barter.
The answer to whether or not I accept barter is a tricky
one, because I'd need to barter for something I'd be
spending money on anyways, and also I've had a few
barter agreements fall through. So, the answer to
that question is a decisive "maybe". You
can try, but please don't be put off and/or offended if
I'm not in need of what you have to offer. This
applies to work/trade offers too, which require me to be
around or know what needs doing in advance, which I'm
not always good at.
If you're on the other end of the
spectrum and think I should charge more, then you're
more than welcome to use the "make a donation" link
at the bottom of the main page
to support your humble herbalist. I very deeply
appreciate it, whether its $5 or $5,000 (I think I'd
faint at the latter, but I could be OK with fainting...).
I also accept "tips" of fine cider.
What if I pay in
advance for a class and miss it?
If you miss a class you've paid in
advance for (whether because you were so warm and cozy
in bed, or because it was raining/snowing, or perhaps
you started watching Doctor Who and couldn't pull
yourself away), what'll generally happen is that you get
credit. There are exceptions to this, and
if I teach at a specific venue they determine how this
gets handled, so contact whoever is hosting the class
(for the record, Upland Hills EAC, as far as I know,
issues credits missed classes). Credits ~don't~
apply to the long term intensive course, simply because
that course requires a fixed commitment for
participants to follow through (kinda like enrolling in
a yoga course, or leasing a car...).
On the whole, refunds are not given,
since in many cases pre-registration determines whether
or not certain classes will happen, and often classes
max out, which means if someone doesn't show, I may not
be able to fill that seat.
All that said, I do try very hard to work with people,
so please do reach out to me and communicate about it.
Do you provide lunch
at your classes?
Generally, no. Sometimes I'll
bring some food to share, but making lunches for groups
of unknown size stressed me out too much when I used to
do it, and I'm now having folks bring their own lunches
or, if they want, bring some to share. If I am
doing something where food is provided, I'll make that
challenging are the herb walks?
Well, in many ways that depends on how
used to walking/hiking you are. At the classes I do at
Upland Hills, the walking is generally around the
building, and not too challenging, though we will go
short distances into the woods, and sometimes there
aren't any real "trails". But walks there are
If the walk is at a park, it's worth
contacting me to talk about it. Sometimes parks
have real nice flat wide trails, and other times I
really lead a vigorous hike up hills and down dales.
What should I bring?
That's really pretty much up to you,
Probably the most important thing is clothing to keep
you comfortable and dry. Being wet and cold is not
good. Also, be sure to bring enough water for hot
days, and perhaps something with electrolytes if you
know you dehydrate easily.
Other things: food, cameras, pens, paper, lots of
friends... whatever you think will serve you best.
Can I bring my
baby/child/children? How is that (or is that)
Please bring along your adorable
children. I love wee ones and kids are always
welcome at my classes.
That said, common sense and courtesy do
apply. You'll want to keep your children from
chewing on any tincture bottles or herbs I might be
passing around, which may or may not be appropriate for
little one's mouths. Likewise, while I'm quite fine
with having little ones make their accustomed noises and
antics, if your child/ren is/are screaming bloody murder
for any completely understandable (or who knows?) reason,
the front row probably isn't the best place for them...
so, I certainly don't expect kids to stay still and be
quiet, but generally do expect parents to be attentive to
their needs when fussing does come up. What's most
important to me is that being a parent doesn't become an
obstacle for coming to classes.
As for how much of whether there's a
cost associated with kids coming to classes, the
definitive answer is "it depends". No charge ever
for babies and toddlers, and usually not for younger kids
unless a class is specifically for them. As for
teens... again it can depend, usually on the focus of the
class. The underlying theme is to get ahold of me
and ask, and we'll work something out.
Are there things
outside that I should be worried about?
Absolutely. There are mosquitoes
and rattlesnakes (in northwest oakland county we have
one of the countries healthiest populations of
massasauga rattlesnakes) and ticks and biting flies, and
irritating flies (you know, the kind that never actually
bite you but keep running into your head...). You
could trip on a fallen branch, you could slip on a mossy
stone. Birds sometimes poop on people. Some
people don't clean up after their dogs and you can step
in it and not notice until after you get into your car.
On a date.
But it's usually really beautiful, and as long as common
sense safety is adhered to (which includes things like
not trying to pick up rattlesnakes and doing tick
checks), you'll very likely be fine.
What if I take your
class and think that you're off your rocker?
Well, I suppose that's a possibility...
One of the reasons I have so much info
on this site, and have posted so much info online in
various places is that I feel that the way I write gives
a very clear picture of the way I teach. You'll
notice that the basis for my perspective on the use of
medicinal plants is rooted in traditional herbalism, and
both my direct experience and the experience of other
herbalists I know and respect. While I'm fairly up
on a lot of the research and studies being done on
medicinal plants, I usually find these to be dreadfully
flawed in a lot of different ways, and generally do not
use them to support the points I make. If this
sort of scientific validation is important to you and
you can't take anything in without it, you might not
really jive with where I'm coming from. That
said, I think I'm able for the most part to explain a
lot of things in a way that makes rational and logical
sense, so you still might get a lot out of a class.
Besides, it makes sense that if you want to learn about
medicinal plants, you need to understand them in the
context of traditional herbalism.
You must never get
sick/stressed/fill in the blank...
On the contrary, I learn by doing.
I view the fable of the person who starts using herbs and
never gets sick again similar to the one about the couple
who loves each other so much they never fight or argue.
Do you take on
I have, but the parameters are based
more on my ability to make it work than on whether
someone would make a great apprentice...
How can I become a
certified or licensed herbalist?
There is no certification or
licensure for herbalists anywhere in the United States.
Classes or courses offering
certification/certificates/master herbalist degrees or
whatever are simply giving you their own "certificate"
that indicates you completed the class or course they
offered. This type of certification has no
standing independent of the course it was offered by.
This is neither a good thing or a bad thing, really.
Some people like certificates because it shows that you
did go through a course (which is certainly something to
be proud of), while some others might think that it
doesn't matter at all. What does matter is what
you've learned and what you can offer. Having or
not having a certificate or whatever is incidental to
I don't have any certificates, and so I
don't offer them. Sometimes students of mine will
say that they studied with me, and I'm happy to offer
myself as a reference for students who need them.
I've written letters of recommendation for acupuncture
school, nursing programs and other herb courses.
On a side note, I hope and pray that we
never start to mandate certification or
licensure of herbalists. While some people feel
that this would "ensure standards" I think the main
thing it would do is make the study of herbalism more
expensive and spell out a lot of things that we're no
longer allowed to do.
Herbalism is the medicine of the
people, and anyone and everyone who chooses to immerse
themselves in this study should be able to do so to care
for themselves, their families and communities in the
way that makes sense to them, not to be mandated by a
bunch of bureaucrats influenced by special interests and
if there are
other questions you think should be on here, let me