For many years now I have really enjoyed teaching a seasonal course in herbal medicine which takes place over four weekends at the beautiful Trill Farm near Axminster, Devon. This year we didn’t know until the very last minute whether or not the course was going to go ahead and we had to squeeze four weekends over two lots of four days, which all happened in August and September. It really was a crash course in learning how to look after yourself using the amazing herbal resources growing around us!
Each day we started by going out and foraging for herbs, gathering them from the herb gardens as well as the 300 acres of the most beautiful woodland, meadows and orchards that make up Trill Farm. We then explored how the different tastes that occur in herbs can provide us with very good clues as to their biochemical constituents (ingredients) and how they act therapeutically in the body.
Tasting herbs is not always as pleasant an experience as you might expect! We encountered some incredibly bitter herbs, particularly burdock (shown in the photo on the left) and chicory leaves. The course is largely experiential; learning about herbs from books is one thing, but spending time with herbs, looking at them, touching them, smelling them and tasting them leads to a deeper knowledge and understanding that can only be gained through first hand experience.
Through the course we have explored many different ways that we can prepare herbs so that they interact with us physiologically and exert their healing benefits. The most obvious, of course, is eating them and then making them into teas – which we did over first two days. After that, in the second workshop, we collected lots of herbs to make into tinctures and glycerites.
In the third workshop we had fun pressing and tasting the tinctures and glycerites that we’d made the month before, and then we collected herbs to make into healing salves for the skin.
In the last workshop each student made their own ‘elixir of life’ with strengthening, nourishing and rejuvenating herbs to keep them going through the winter. We particularly enjoyed making herbal energy balls from incredible adaptogenic herbs – such as licorice, ashwagandha and Siberian ginseng – which are great to boost our energy and increase our immunity and longevity.
I love teaching these workshops each year and I am very grateful to Romy Fraser for hosting the seasonal herb courses for so many years at Trill Farm. Keep an eye on my website for further seasonal workshops in 2021!
all the best