I’ve always been deeply interested in the unloved ones, in those who are cast aside. Those who are not valued by the society of any given moment in time and find themselves on the outs… Given that I’m generally not into most of the beliefs and implications of “the society of any given moment”, those who are pushed to the edges of society and mainstream acceptance have always been of interest to me and I’ve found a natural comradery there. Those who live on the edges are often the bearers of deep wisdom, authenticity, and various important teachings.
It was nearly a decade ago that I first started learning about the medicinal qualities of invasive plants. Soon after, I offered a class on the plants that I noticed living in these outcast margins. I called it “Villains and Vagabonds: The Beauty and Medicine of Misaligned Plants”. Since that initial deep dive I’ve found myself falling more and more in love with the plants that other humans tend to dislike and even passionately hate… especially those labelled as invasive. There’s something that shifts in people who are self-proclaimed naturalists, plant lovers, botany freaks, when you bring up the invasive plants. They get angry, they get quiet, sometimes they become judge and jury, proclaiming these plants as nothing but evil. Sometimes they’re willing to dump poison into the very gardens, the very ecosystem they most love.
Yes, we love and want to protect the habitats and lives of native plants, yes it feels vitally important, but are “invasive” plants really to blame? I find the narrative that any plant is an evil, predatory being to be utterly suspect. Especially when they also happen to offer the most appropriate medicines for some of the most common ailments of our time.
In light of all of this, I was absolutely delighted to learn a few years ago that my dear friend, teacher and herbalist Suzanne Stone, of Moon of Hyldemoer Herbals, shares a deep and passionate interest and honoring of these misaligned plants. How wonderful to find that we’ve both spent years deepening in with this material, have appreciated and devoured books like Tim Scott’s “Invasive Plant Medicine” and “The New Wild” by Fred Pearce. Together, we conspired to offer a longer class, a chance to really dive in together, to swim in the reflections and learnings and relationship-building with a group of people.
We started off with an annual weekend offering, which we continue to hold as it is very dear to our hearts (find it under “IPM weekend intensive”). But we couldn’t help but dream further… What would it be like to deepen in with these plants over a longer (gestational) period? What magic would unfold if we spent one whole day together and subsequent month apart noticing, honoring, listening, learning with just one of these plants at a time? How incredible would it be to form a whole long term course around developing an understanding of the beauty and medicine of these hated plants? It’s from this train of thought that this version of the work came forth.
During our time together, we will:
- choose an “invasive” plant ally to deepen with over the year
- root into the depths of the gifts these plants have to offer in food, medicine, spirit and ecology
- journey to and with the plants
- co-create culinary and medicinal recipes with the plants
- delve into topics such as: the term “invasive”, evidence based research on the effects of these plants in greater ecology, the pesticide industry, government policies on plants and poisons, xenophobia
- keep journals and be encouraged to work with writing prompts
- explore the grief that walks with this topic
- create rituals for grieving and for healing together
- each take on a research project according to our interests
This is an annual offering and we will alternate which plants we focus on each year. This year the plants we will honor are: Norway Maple, Japanese Knotweed, Honeysuckle, Black Locust, Multiflora and Rugosa Rose, Himalayan Jewelweed, Autumn Olive & Barberry
This course will take place mostly at Suzanne’s home in Belfast and a few times at my home in Hope, Maine
We will meet from 10am-4pm on the following dates:
April 3rd & 24th, May 22nd, June 5th, July 17th, August 6th (a stray Saturday), September 11th, October 9th & 30th
Cost: $900 total – a $200 deposit is required for registration and another $200 is due before the first class. The remaining $500 is due by 7/17.
Limited to 10 participants
We will meet outdoors with an open and airy barn option in the case of rain.
BYO lunch but there will be plant snacks from our culinary creations!
Scholarships are available. BIPOC, Queer & Trans folks are prioritized for scholarship allocation. Reach out by email to apply.
Email Jillian at email@example.com with questions or to register.