Ethnobotany Apprenticeship Program

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Ethnobotany Apprenticeship

The Ethnobotany Apprenticeship Program is an intensive wild plant and herbal course developed by widely-respected ethnobotany expert, Karen Sherwood. The program is founded on the traditional or ethnobotanical uses of plants as we explore the role of native plants used by First Nations People. Students journey through the seasons, learning about the great potential and many faces of our green allies.

What to Expect

This apprenticeship program is intended to foster a deep connection between students and the plant world. Students study the edible, medicinal, and utilitarian uses of plants in both a modern and a traditional context. The program is a combination of classroom lecture and field study with direct experience and practical application. We emphasize hands?on learning through the start-to-finish process of identifying plants in their natural environment, ethically collecting them, and then preparing them into amazing creations. Classroom study rounds out the program as students learn the characteristics of plant families and beginning botany.


Exploring our Green Allies

In the Ethnobotany Apprenticeship program, students develop relationships with the plants that share the world around them, learn about the natural cycles of the Earth, and appreciate the gifts of the seasons. As the plants change their appearance and pass to us ever-changing gifts, students learn to identify, ethically harvest, and bring these plants into their lives on a daily basis.

Beginning Botany

An in-depth study of plant families is taught along with beginning botany. Multiple field trips and herbarium projects reinforce this teaching.

Students learn:

  • Plant taxonomy
  • Plant family characteristics
  • Plant identification, with emphasis on wild edibles
  • How to prepare an herbarium collection
  • How to build an herbarium press

Edible and Medicinal Uses

Wild plants can unlock the portal to good health and balance. We take an in-depth look at how all beings are given life through the gifts of the plants. Seaweeds, or marine algae, are also covered as we travel to the pristine waters of the San Juan Islands to learn about and harvest the gifts of the sea.

Students will learn:

  • How to ethically harvest plants
  • Appropriate caretaking methods
  • Wild food, seaweed and medicinal plant foraging
  • How to create wild foods dishes, ranging from survival fare to gourmet cuisine
  • How to create herbal salves, oil infusions, and tinctures
  • How to administer herbal first aid
  • Benefits and traditions of fermentation

Ethnobotanical Studies

Not only will we explore the many modern uses of plants to incorporate them into our daily lives, we will also study traditional uses of plants used by indigenous peoples. To round out our ethnobotanical studies, students make traditional harvesting tools to use on our foraging adventures.
Students learn:

  • Traditional harvesting tools and methods
  • How to make cordage and other native technologies
  • Techniques of traditional cedar basketry