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An Herbal Education

A Down-to-Earth Herbal Education is the focus of Herb Camp

Before you rip that “weed” out of your front yard, Elise Higley wants you to know something: It might be medicinal! The wooly leaves of Muellien for example, can be dried and infused to help support the respiratory system.  Or Saint John’s Wort can be an ally to fend off the winter blues.

These are the kinds of ah-ha moments  you might have at Herb Camp, an annual gathering that she hosts at her Oshala Farm in the Applegate Valley. The 290-acre farm specializes in the cultivation and sale of herbal products . Although the farm is open for tours on the first Wednesday of every month (May-Sept), Herb Camp is an opportunity for people to spend extended time on the farm and to learn more about how to incorporate herbs into their life.

The camp attracts plant lovers from across the country. People are drawn to it because, instead of relying on textbook learning, it offers hands-on interaction with the plants in the field, and opportunities to learn about everything from growing and processing.

“I came to learn more and connect with other people who love plants,” says an Herb Camp attendee. “It was above my expectations—so beautiful and lovely from the moment I got out of my car.”

In an effort to extend this opportunity to more local residents, Elise received one of A Greater Applegate‘s Innovation  Grant to supplement her scholarship program.  In 2023, Herb camp was able to offer 17 scholarships. Elise strives for inclusion and wants to empower everyone  to understand the power of plants “to foster their own innate power to take care of themselves.”

Elise’s project fits into the Vibrant & Livable portion of the Applegate Valley Vision, an 89-page resident-inspired document that serves as a roadmap for improving the quality of life in the Valley.

The Herb Camp weekend includes plant walks, keynote speakers, organic local-centric meals and music. There are also classes that specialize in how to make your own first aid kit, how certain herbs work with body systems, and how to address issues like stress or sleep with herbs. Students can also learn about plant propagation.

Elise describes herself as an “herbal education junkie” and attended The California School of Herbal Studies 25 years ago. She has also attended many classes and symposiums over the years and is a passionate, life-long learner.

I’ve always been intrigued with how plants work with the body and how we have these amazing allies in plants that grow with us on the planet,” she says.