Current Work and Inspiration
I am a clinical herbalist, educator, gardener, writer, and photographer deeply inspired by a life-long love affair with plants. Since 1994, I’ve studied traditional views of health and nature in tandem with scientific understandings of plants and people, exploring our innate tendency towards health and the profound impact of synchronizing our lives with the rhythms of the natural world. My practice and teaching draw wisdom from various systems of body, mind and spirit-centered healing, including Western herbal medicine, classical Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, flower essence therapy, mind-body and somatic techniques, and whole foods nutrition. My work is rooted in the premise that the heart of healing lies in remembering that we belong to each other and to the land. In all I do, I hope to increase awareness of the capacity of not only medicinal plants, but of all nature and wildness, to sustain and heal.
In addition to working with clients in the sliding-scale community clinic at Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism (VCIH), my passion is sharing my craft through education. As founding co-director and core faculty at VCIH, I developed the comprehensive curriculum together with Guido Masé and Betzy Bancroft, and continue to think about and experiment with new methods to inspire the combination of rigorous critical inquiry and joyful exploration that herbalism calls for.
Alongside my roles at the Center, I appear as faculty in programs offered by other long-term herbal training programs as well, including The School of Traditional Western Herbalism, in Portland, Oregon, and Farmacy, in Providence, Rhode Island. I am also a recurring lecturer in the graduate nursing programs at the University of Vermont and teach nationally at conferences, such as the New England Women’s Herbal Conference, Traditions in Western Herbalism, RadHerb, Herbstalk, the American Herbalists Guild Symposium, and Integrative Medicine for the Underserved.
I enjoy writing about plants, health and the importance of spirit, story and tradition in our present healthcare climate. I occasionally post to my blog, chronicling the cycles of and lessons learned in one of VCIH’s medicinal gardens, which I maintain with students. I am also in the process of writing a book which draws on ideas from classical Chinese medicine to reframe current stories about individual health and our place in the landscape, while offering simple tools to resynchronize our lives with nature’s heartbeat.
You’ll find me happiest on an afternoon spent in a field with a harvest basket, a blue sky, and the sun on my face or kneeling in the dirt meeting a new plant. I am tickled beyond belief that I get to do these things regularly and get paid for it. I live on a ridge in the Worcester range of the Green Mountains of Vermont with my animals, bossy perennial gardens and similarly green-thumbed sweetheart.
For seven years, I served as core faculty in the Health Arts and Sciences program at Goddard College, where I worked with undergraduate and graduate students passionate about various herbal traditions, nutrition, agriculture, social and environmental justice, deep ecology and radical public health.
I served as the Education Coordinator for PlantMedicine, an international non-profit dedicated to disseminating evidence-based and traditionally-supported herbal information to the healthcare community. With PlantMedicine, I collated and analyzed research data to develop herbal monographs and co-authored (with Simon Mills & Jillian Borchard) a graduate-level learning module on herbal safety and herb-drug interactions.
I’ve written articles for various publications and was previously a regular columnist for UnifiedHealth, a practitioner’s journal devoted to renewing consciousness in medicine, published by Innate Response. Many of these articles can be found in the Writing section of this site.
My education includes a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts) and a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Health from Goddard College. I hold certificates in Zen Shiatsu and Swedish/Esalen Massage from the Heartwood Institute and in using Teishin (acupressure) for pain and stress from the Teishin Institute. I have also studied mind-body skills at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC. I am currently completing a three-year practitioner training program in Somatic Experiencing, based on the trauma healing work of Peter Levine.
My herbal mentors–those with whom I’ve spent intensive time studying or working–include Deb Soule, with whom I lived and worked for a year in her biodynamic gardens; Paul Pitchford, from whom I first learned shiatsu and Chinese medical theory; Dianne Connelly and Bob Duggan, founders of Tai Sophia who deepened my passion for Classical Chinese medicine; Matthew Wood, whose 14-month course in Western Herbal Diagnosis taught me the art of simpling; and James Snow, Kevin Spelman and Simon Mills, the founding faculty of the graduate program at Tai Sophia, who modeled what stellar collaborative teaching and integrative herbal practice can be. I am so grateful to each of these individuals and hope my work does justice to their efforts and care on my behalf.
As is true for most herbalists, however, my most profound learning has occurred through partnership with clients, students, colleagues, and the plants themselves. Through the continuation of such learning exchanges, I envision the eventual reawakening and dissemination of traditional healing knowledge in each home in every community.