A few weeks ago I ventured up to the National College of Natural Medicine with our Domestic Farms Rep, Anna, for the sixth annual Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. What a lovely event! This was my second year attending PPMG, so I knew I could expect a fantastic time. We kicked it off Friday evening with a fun and inspiring keynote from the one and only Robin Rose Bennett. She had us sing while she drummed on a djembe, and we honored the four directions. She then flowed right into an uplifting discourse about herbalism and its importance as a healing modality. We both came away from the keynote feeling uplifted and inspired. If you ever get a chance to hear Robin speak, I highly recommend it!
Saturday morning began with the bustling Plant Medicine Marketplace. It’s always fun to chat with fellow plant people and meet with our incredibly knowledgable customers in Portland. This marketplace has the most vendors I’ve seen at any herbal conference with a great selection of amazing handmade medicines. Anna and I handed out many-a-catalog, as well as stickers and recipe cards. More than anything, it was nice to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. The marketplace is one of the many great reasons to attend this annual gathering.
The only problem with herb conferences is that there are always too many good classes to choose from during each session. Alas, you must choose! I decided my first class would be Planting a Medicine Herb Garden Through the Seasons, with Laura Altvater. Since I recently moved into a house with a yard, I’ve become enamored with the idea of filling that space with myriad beautiful, perennial, medicinal herbs. This was clearly the class for me! We learned about starting seeds, divisions and cuttings, as well as how to grow a multitude of plants during different seasons in the Pacific Northwest. One seed company she recommends is Horizon Herbs. If you’d like to read about our procurement team’s recent visit with Richo Cech at Horizon Herbs, please click here.
Next up on my plant program was Elise Krohn’s class Wild Berries and Bioflavonoids. Elise focused on four different berries: hawthorn, huckleberry, elder, and rosehips. This year I worked a lot with hawthorn, so I was really excited to hear Elise’s insight on this wonderful heart tonic. She is such an engaging and knowledgeable teacher; without a doubt, I left the class full of inspiration. One of the first things I did when I got home was to go out and harvest hawthorn berries, enough to make the delicious cordial that she passed around in class. If you are interested in making a cordial yourself, you can use this recipe by Kami McBride as your starting point.
Sunday morning I started the day with Paul Bergner’s two hour lecture on alterative herbs. I am always so happy to attend Paul’s classes because he builds a strong case from deep wisdom and experience for whatever subject he tackles. He covers his topics with such detail and precision, based on science and years of clinical work, yet his thesis always seems to end up being so simple: nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
The forum finale for me was not on flora, but on fungi. I went to Renee Davis’ lecture Medicinal Mushrooms in the Clinic. Learning about fungi and their medicinal uses, along with their ethnomycology, has intrigued me lately, so I’m always glad to see these classes being taught at herb conferences. Renee covered basic pharmacokinetics of medicinal mushrooms, preparations, and their use in the clinic, along with summaries on three of my favorites: reishi, lion’s mane, and turkey tail (the fungi, not fauna).
Anna and I had a blast learning new herbal concepts with all of the beautiful Portland folks. I hope to make it up there again next year for the 7th annual conference. In the meantime, I look forward to planting some weeds in my yard, making a hawthorn cordial, reviewing and organizing four pages of scribbled notes from Paul Bergner’s class, and creating a double-extracted reishi mushroom tincture. That was my last event for 2014, and I hope to see you all again in 2015!
Check out our Events Calendar to attend an herbal event near you!
Mason is our Events & Outreach Coordinator at Mountain Rose Herbs. Eugene born and raised, he found an early interest in nutrition which eventually brought him to the world of herbalism. Mason attends fun events in the community and brings back the stories so we can experience them too…