Becoming a herbalist Blog

2019 Review

2019 Annual Review

What went well?

  • My fantasy of a little plants and prison zine turned into a book! I published the Prisoner’s Herbal Book in September 2019 and it became a bigger and more beautiful project than I could have dreamed of. It’s now been sent to more than 300 prisoners as I’m just getting started on distribution. Lots of folks on the outside have been supporting the work by buying copies and promoting it.
  • My second book, Overcoming Burnout, was also published! It’s been ordered by lots of people involved in grassroots organising and I’ve been getting some really sweet reviews and nice feedback.
  • I’ve been learning SO much about herbalism through my clinical training especially through the clinical hours and shadowing other herbalists.
  • I got my dream campervan! Thanks to some money from my incredible Grandad who passed away this time two years ago. It’s now being used as a mobile clinic in Calais every month and to help me get to Ireland and back for my clinical training.
  • Herbalists without Borders UK is going from strength to strength. We are slowly developing the systems needed to make the work more sustainable and organised. The mobile clinic in Northern France is very demanding – practically, medically, financially and emotionally. We are closer to establishing a network of medicine makers across the country and also had a successful fundraiser this winter.
  • I supported more than six Hunt Saboteur Groups with mini parcels of herbal medicine to help them survive the arduous badger cull this winter. They were very well received and it felt great to support the animal liberation movement.
  • The Prisoner’s Herbal and the Solidarity Apothecary was featured on two podcasts this year. I did interviews with the wonderful Katja and Ryn on the Holistic Herbalism Podcast as well as Denise Cusack on the Herbal Action Podcast.

What was challenging?

  • The apothecary has just so many outgoings which I have covered with the paid work I do and some money from my grandad but it’s increasingly putting financial pressure on me which is unsustainable. I need to improve systems, do more fundraising and find creative ways of covering costs better.
  • The physical demands of Calais are tough. It’s one week a month with a huge amount of driving but the inbetween weeks are also quite demanding with a lot of organising, logistics and medicine making which make respite harder to come by. We are trying really hard to make it more sustainable with a bigger crew etc but the growing pains are definitely a challenge sometimes.
  • It has been a struggle to promote the books amidst all the other responsibilities in my life such as caring for land, paid work, prisoner support and other organising commitments. I’m trying to take it steady but I hadn’t quite realistically factored in how much work it would be simply keeping up with the post, let alone sharing the books and contacting prisoner support groups and so forth!
  • As ever, the prisoner support demands in my life are huge and still seem to dominate everything else making it hard to make time for the apothecary.

Goals Review

My goals for 2019 are below. The pink /// means I achieved the goal and a cross through means that I didnt.

Daily commitments:

  • Make medicine every day (even something small)///
  • Eat wild plants every day///
  • Observe the field every day (where I hope to one-day start a field-scale community herb farm)
  • Do a ‘sit spot’ every day with a plant and journal my reflections
  • Document what I do by tracking it in my journal, blogging and taking photographs///

Solidarity Apothecary project goals:

  • Organise regular medicine making sessions in Somerset for the Herbalists without Borders UK Solidarity Medicine Making campaign///
  • Re-develop the medicine garden where I live for increasing varieties and quantities of medicinal plants///
  • Construct an outdoor kitchen and medicine making space near the herb garden that has space for medicine making in groups, as well as increased storage///
  • Launch an Instagram account to help promote the apothecary///
  • Facilitate herbal workshops at the Earth First Summer Gathering and London Tattoo Circus any other relevant events and gatherings.
  • Also teach basic medicine making at the queer ecology course and permaculture design course this summer///
  • Save up for a van for my future mobile clinic///
  • Create my plants and prison zine and publish by June 2019///
  • Put a call out for a herbal allies for state repression zine by the end of 2019
  • Organise for tote bags and badges to be printed to help generate funds for the project///
  • Publish my Overcoming Burnout book by April 2019///
  • Respond to herbal call-outs for solidarity and try my best to amplify projects that need support. Aim to organise fundraisers in my local area.///

Develop my knowledge of health and herbal medicine by:

  • Completing all reading and assignments with my Plant Medicine School apprenticeship, also have a successful summer school///
  • Working intimately with 12 plants through the year///
  • Completing these distance learning courses by the end of 2019:
    • Herbal Safety short course with NAIHM///
    • Systemic Inflammation, Food Intolerance, and Autoimmunity CPD course with NAIHM///
  • Continuing to listen to audio sessions from Materia Medica Monthly and herbal podcasts///
  • Self-educating about energetics///

Develop my knowledge and practical skills in herbal first aid and acute care by:

  • Undertaking a three-day first aid at work training in January///
  • Joining the Infection and Wound management course with the Herbal Medics Academy online in March///
  • Self-educating by reading texts, developing a herbal first aid kit and volunteering in situations where I can put my skills in practice///
  • Save up to complete the FREC 3 (First Response Emergency Care) course in either 2019 or 2020///

Develop my knowledge and understanding of intersectional herbalism and healthcare by:

  • Printing and reading all the queer herbalism materials available///
  • Finishing reading the book called The Remedy, about queer and trans healthcare
  • Complete Otter Lieffe’s course in Trans Competency for Holistic Therapists by the end of 2019
  • Self-educating about dismantling white herbalism, unlearning my own whiteness and complicity in systems of oppression and trying every day to do better and be more dangerous in solidarity with others (dangerous in the best ways possible)/// (neverending work is necessary on this)
  • Self-educating about disability justice frameworks///
  • Self-educating about health autonomy ideas and struggles///
  • Self-educating about decolonising herbalism especially learning about the role of botanists and herbalists who were part of the British Empire’s legacy of violence///
  • Continue learning about trauma recovery. Have a TRE (trauma releasing exercise) session to see if its useful///
  • Self-educating about harm reduction and radical sobriety///

Develop my botany, medicinal ecology and plant identification skills by:

  • Completing the unfinished parts of the Identiplant course which I started last year by the end of August 2019
  • Visiting as many herbal-related projects as possible to see their growing systems. Including visiting Holtwood Herbs in Devon and Chelsea Physic Garden in London///
  • Support the design and development of a medicine garden at the Red Brick Building Community Garden
  • Self-educating about climate change, mutual aid disaster relief and herbal medicine///
  • Self-educating about at-risk plant medicines in the UK and internationally///

Improve my plant medicine making skills by:

  • Completing the handcrafted healing oils course material by March 2019///
  • Making a diversity and large quantity of herbal oils throughout the year///
  • Actively improve my skills and confidence in making: herbal oils, glycerites, blends (as I have mostly worked with simples e.g. One herb at a time), creams and lotions, herbal salts and herbal body care products generally///

Increase my knowledge of plant folklore and traditional witchcraft plant traditions by:

  • Completing the Tarot Apothecary course by the end of 2019
  • Completing the Lunar Apothecary course by the end of March 2019
  • Self-educating about medical astrology///
  • Self-educating about historical herbal medicine traditions in England and Wales where my ancestors are from///

My Reading List – beyond the apprenticeship reading list to help me achieve the above goals (approx one book per month):

  • The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care
  • Herbal First Aid
  • Care work: Dreaming disability justice
  • The following disability justice resourcess:
  • Braiding sweetgrass
  • Queering Herbalism – have read this several times but want to go even more in depth & work through the various links systematically
  • Excluded by Julia Serano
  • Culpepper’s Complete Herbal
  • Herbal Clinician
  • Health Care Revolt
  • Wortcunning – A Folk Medicine Herbal

Wish me luck!

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