OAEC is a non-profit education center in Sonoma County that works to promote ecologically and culturally sustainable communities. Learn more.
Healing Through Food, Gardening, Herbs, and Ceremony: Remembering Our Way
June 21 - 23, 2013
Time: Begins at 10:00am on the 21st and ends at 4:00pm on the 23rd
Instructor: Michelle Vesser
We will gather in OAEC’s Mother Garden for this 3-day workshop to remember our connection with the Earth, the soil, the food that nourishes us, and the healing ways of the plant world. During this hands-on course, we will explore the wisdom of plant spirit medicine, medicinal herbs and oils, gardening as a practical and spiritual practice, and food as medicine.
Each day we will meet in a sharing circle and our dinner table will become our altar of gratitude. The workshop will also cover Weston A. Price’s pioneering work in health and nutrition developed during the 1930’s, while studying the vitality of traditional people before the introduction of processed foods. We will discuss and practice ways of including this wisdom for a healthy future for both ourselves and the Earth.
- Click here for the sample syllabus.
- Click here to read an article the instructor, Michelle, wrote about this course.
- See the attachment at the bottom of the page for an example lesson on a common medicinal and food plant.
Cost: $495 ($445 if registered three weeks in advance) - this course includes lodging and 3 homemade organic meals a day. The deposit amount for this course is $100.
For a more detailed description of our facilities, including information on what to bring, visit our Participant's Information page.
Click here for directions.
Below is an overview of the workshop and the practical skills covered:
Learning in the North Garden
Friday – Plant and Herb Focus
• Plant spirit medicine – We will take time to begin a healing relationship with plants through meditation and drawing, and discover the medicine they have to offer us.
• Preparing herbal oil infusions – After meeting the plants and discussing their properties, we will harvest herbs from the garden and wild areas. The techniques of preparing both fresh and 24 hour dry plant infusion medicinal oils will be covered and demonstrated. The following day we will prepare these oils into salves, slathers, lip balm and body salts.
Making herbal salves
• After our evening meal in the garden we see a slide presentation on Weston A. Price’s work and his contribution to nutrition.
Enjoying our dinner in the garden
Saturday – Gardening Focus (practically and spiritually)
• There are more to weeds then meet the eye – We will enter a broad and fascinating world of weeds as our food, medicine, and soil indicators. It will change forever how you look at the green plants that appear everywhere.
• Composting – We will take plants that we have cleared from the garden beds and begin the process that transforms them into beautiful humus that feeds the Earth and the plant world.
• Tai Chi of Gardening – How to strengthen your body while avoiding injury using the foundations of Tai Chi. You will learn the basics of being rooted, developing leg strength, proper posture, moving with your waist, and using tools as an extension of your body.
• Bed Preparation – We cover all the steps of cultivating garden beds. We will open, edge, add amendments, turn the bed and take time to massage it, using the Tai Chi of gardening techniques.
• Planting – We will finish the bed by planting young starts into our freshly cultivated beds.
After dinner in the garden, we will go on an Ancestor Journey – This is an exercise to help you remember and connect with how your ancestors related to food.
Sunday – Food and Nutrition Focus
• Eating with the Seasons: The healing wisdom of eating what your foodshed, climate and season offer you.
• Body types and constitution – In Chinese and Ayurvedic healing systems, the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether are important in understanding each individuals health. These systems describe the constitution you were born with, each constitution tendencies when unhealthy, and foods that provoke ill health and create balance.
• Sauerkraut preparation – We will harvest ingredients from the garden and create together this ancient art of fermenting food, which greatly benefits the digestive system (the seat of your health) and preserves nutrients.
Sauerkraut Preparations – Ingredients harvested from the garden
• Rejuvenative snacks – How to create treats that are healing tonics that taste great.
Reflections from Past Participants:
I liked the balance of talking and hands on. The gardening was very important component. Sitting with the plants and the sharing was profound. Having an amazing garden to work in and be in was definitely a trong point. I didn't realize we were going to get so much info/tips and hands on time around gardening.
I am so grateful to the Center and to Michelle for providing this amazing opportunity to begin my education about the Earth. I really enjoyed the holistic approach to food and introduction to the garden.
The week-end was extremely super duper beyond satisfing! A deep thirst has been quenched, a deep rift has been healed, and a deep desire to connect and belong and to be at peace has been fulfilled, really. It goes in deep.
I really appreciate all the time we spent in and with the garden and the grandmother oak. The plant spirit medicine information touched me profoundly. I am amazed by the amount of useful information covered (practical, emotional, spiritual, funny, inspiriting information) it has surpassed my expectations.
I love the idea of something I love so much - to grow food, being sacred from seed, harvest, preparation, to table as altar. I think I will try to eat more nourishing food, I think I will look at my meals as sacred.
There was a wealth of material covered in 3 days, spanning the esoteric to nuts and bolts. It is a huge umbrella that makes the workshop so perfect for me. I feel so empowered to reassess my relationship to my own health and my participation in how I am part of a chain. Every time I sit at the table to eat, I am thrilled to have the focus of communication with individual plants as to their need, what they have for me, and what they can tell me about the landscape.
My expectations were met thousand fold. The workshop fed my mind, my soul, my heart, and my body. Being outside in this great garden during the entire time, underneath the oak, next to the altar, and hands-on learning made the workshop so much more vivid and interesting.
I felt that the workshop helped me get in touch with the healer in me, - as if the knowledge lay dormant but was awakened. My curiosity about food as medicine has been provided and I’m more open to receiving information. Thank you for helping me open up to what feels like a new, spiritually rich avenue of expression and experience. I am inspired to learn and practice more.
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