Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods and longed to know the names of the plants and trees that surround you? Perhaps you already know some by name, but do you know them in spirit? The plants provide a pathway into the natural world and can foster connection to the land on which we dwell or through which we travel. To learn them by smell and taste and touch, to greet them by name and discover how they have been appreciated for food and medicine, to hear their unique stories creates relationship, an intimacy with place. That which we love we nurture, we protect, it becomes a part of us.
Consider this program part science, part spirit. Together we’ll learn how to identify and cultivate plants, commune with them as allies, and prepare them for food and medicine. We’ll regain our own wildness, our role in the natural world, and discover what it is to feel at home with the earth. That which you learn will expand your perspective, inspire you to share your knowledge and insight with others, and enhance your everyday experience. We are intrinsically connected with the whole of the natural world and once we realize this, feel this, experience this, that connection can never be unknown.
The Plant and Place Immersion is a five-month, hybrid program, running from May to September. We will gather in-person two days each month. All gatherings will take place on picturesque public and private lands in the Poconos. Together we'll meet and work hands-on with the plants and connect with the land. In between gatherings, we'll meet-up via zoom to learn in depth about the plants and discuss what we're learning. Live demos of preparing plants as food and medicine will also be provided during this time. Thoughtful homework assignments will inspire consistent engagement with the plants and the land on which you dwell or visit.
To consume plants for food and medicine is a sacred communion with the plants. We take into our bodies not only their phytochemicals and fiber, but in doing so with awareness, our spirits intermingle. We take in the land on which they grow. We become a part of that land and regain our place as human animals, doing just as all the other animals do that trod the earth. Over time, our knowledge of place becomes instinctual. We begin to cultivate a sense of where to find food when hungry, what plants may heal us when we’re unwell, and what plants may make us unwell should we nibble without discretion.
We’ll dive deep into how to recognize plants in their habitats and how to cultivate them at home. We'll learn the language that we may use to better understand and describe them to others, how to craft them into food and medicine, and how to strengthen awareness and communication through our senses.
The School of Plant and Place Connection will provide you the tools to confidently identify, sustainably harvest, and prepare plants for medicinal and food purposes.
To know what plants to reach for in times of need is one of the most empowering skills a human can possess. To know what plant heals what part of the body and why gives you the ability to care for not only yourself, but your family, your community. Herbal medicine is vast and includes not only green leafy plants but mushrooms, lichens, barks and roots.
Learn the language of herbal medicine, how to evaluate imbalance in the body and the herbs that can bring the body back into a state of wellness. We'll harvest wild plants in the field and forest and explore cultivated herbs too. Together we'll craft herbal teas, tinctures, salves and more. The School of Plant and Place Connection is a perfect introductory course for the beginning plant medicine student and a thorough refresher for the experienced herbalist.
Incorporating wild foods into your diet provides valuable phytonutrients that are largely absent from our modern agricultural diets. Today, for many humans it is a foreign and sometimes frightening thing to harvest wild plants from the earth and ingest them. However, this practice was once commonplace. We'll reawaken our innate, instinctual ability to recognize safe and nutritious wild food plants
We'll learn plants that are easily identifiable and simple to harvest and transform into tasty snacks and delicious meals. The very act of gathering plants connects us to place, to the land on which we dwell. Together we'll forage and retreat to the kitchen to prepare our wild foods in a variety of dishes.
I invite you to spend time with a craggy sassafras. Lean into its strong trunk, feel its furrowed bark, crack a twig and breathe deep its aroma. Press your ear close and hear its story. It shares with you a tale of its time on this land and of its relationship with the people and animals, fellow inhabitants. A warmth radiates throughout your body, indicating the very medicine of sassafras.
This is how humans first came to know the plants, to form relationship with them and the land on which they grew. It is only in modern times that we disregard sensual knowledge. Through this program you'll awaken your senses and learn how to communicate with the natural world through a series of guided forest bathing walks and meditation.
As we journey into the plant world together and explore our connection to place, we'll share our experiences with each other. Every participant has unique impressions, stories, and insights that can further inform our experience of plant and place.
Human connection is just as important as human-plant connection and is something that is sometimes lacking in our day-to-day lives. Each one of us is a teacher, a potential mentor. When we share our stories, we learn from each other and also garner the experience to take our stories out into the world to share with others, whether that be with our family and friends or in our larger community.
To become acquainted with the plants, we must greet them where they live. To form connection with land, with place, we must spend time therein. As you come to know the plants that inhabit a landscape, the natural world becomes a place of comfort rather than apprehension. A walk in the woods or on a country lane is an opportunity to greet familiar plant friends and meet countless more.
We'll spend most of our time together in forest and field. We'll visit pristine public and secluded private land. Our walks will be easy to moderate in nature. Through homework assignments, you'll learn to cultivate a relationship with your own natural spaces where the plants reside. Once you have completed this program, you'll be inspired to spend daily time in the natural world. Surely, you'll yearn to meet new plants outside your familiar landscape, and you'll have all the knowledge you need to make their acquaintance! This knowledge will nurture relationship with any land on which you may be. No matter where you are, connected to the earth, you are home.
Learn the basics of mushroom identification. Discover the many edible and medicinal mushrooms that surround you, how to harvest and prepare them in tasty dishes and valuable herbal medicine.
Herbal medicine utilizes not only herbaceous plants, but barks and roots, mushrooms and lichens. One full day will be spent learning in-depth about the mushrooms and the mushrooms will surely speckle our wild plant walks too!
Explore your connection to place through your feet. There is no better way to awaken the senses and get to know all those tiny plants that reside on the forest floor. A tutorial on barefoot walking will be provided and there will be countless opportunities to practice during our time together.
Meeting new plants often requires time in the field. There may be times in which these plant journeys will be solo. It is important to know how to safely and smartly hike into the backcountry, even if just for the day.
The School of Plant and Place Connection will provide you all the skills you need to plan a solo day-hike.
As part of our immersion, we'll take many a walk together to meet and harvest the plants. So, by the end of the program, spending time quietly in nature, alone or with others, will be second nature.
What's better than a day connecting to plants and place? Several days. Sometimes meeting the plants requires a multi-day excursion. Taking time to move slowly and with intention through a landscape is the ultimate immersion.
Together will learn what gear will best serve you on an overnight hike, how to pack that gear, plan miles and meals. The School of Plant and Place Connection wants you to have all the tools you need to journey comfortably in the backcountry.
Included in the 5-month program, is the option of joining your classmates for an overnight backpacking trip at the program's culmination. We'll travel to a beautiful landscape, marvel at its plant life, and celebrate an immersion in nature while sleeping under the stars.
Learn how to create your own botanical journal, documenting the plants that you meet and your experiences with them.
Botanical journaling is an excellent way to commit fine botanical detail to memory, explore your deeper experience with the land through written word and sketch, and becomes a personal reference guide you can return to again and again.
Included in the program is your very own blank journal. At the conclusion of the program, your journal is sure to be overflowing with botanical and place-based wonder.
Explore and deepen your connection to the natural world through nature-based literature.
A suggested reading list will be provided before the immersion begins. These readings are optional but will deeply enhance your experience in the natural world, inspire further exploration, and are the foundation for the School of Plant and Place Connection's philosophy.
Throughout the program, you'll be provided with countless resources to assist you in your journey moving forward.
Check out this special series of upcoming classes in plant medicine and cultivating relationship with the land