Our Teachers are the Heart of the School
Welcome to Our Stellar Lineup of Core Instructors!
We’re beaming proud to showcase this fine array of herbal teachers, writers and gardeners.
Our core instructors are the primary teachers in the Herbal Immersion Program. See our list of contributors below for all the instructors involved in the Herbal Immersion program. Asia Suler and Juliet Blankespoor are the primary instructors for the Medicine Making Course. Meet our Foraging Course instructors here.
Juliet Blankespoor (she/her)
Founder • Visionary • Creative Director
Juliet is a card-carrying plant geek who channels her plant obsessions through writing, photography, and herb gardening, along with a sizable houseplant predilection. She is an ambitious entrepreneur—her earliest enterprise was a get-rich-quick-scheme involving papaya trees (a monumental flop, on all accounts). Juliet’s been sharing her passion for plants for over twenty-five years, and has owned just about every type of herbal business you can imagine: an herbal nursery, a medicinal products business, a clinical practice, and now, an herbal school. After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in botany, Juliet continued her studies by attending programs at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, the California School of Herbal Studies, and the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. Her herbal teachers and lineage include 7Song, James Snow, and the legendary herbalist Michael Moore, now an ancestor.
Juliet founded the Chestnut School in 2007 and embarked on her writing career with the Blog Castanea in 2011. After many years of teaching intensive, all-outdoor herbal programs, Juliet has finally accepted she’s a raging introvert and her teachings are best suited to the virtual sphere, including her line-up of online courses. She has steered the school’s focus toward bioregional herbalism from its onset and is now shepherding it towards holistic herbalism and social justice. Leading the school is her biggest inspiration for personal growth, and the enterprise serves as fertile ground for economic activism.
Juliet abhors chaos, injustice, and small-mindedness to the point of fist-clenching moments of potty-mouth proportions. On a good day, she exhales, unfurls her palms, and creates beauty through art and compassion. Most importantly, she wears pink on the daily as an amulet to hard-heartedness and as a rose-torch of hope for humanity.
Her first book, The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies, published in April of 2022. A detailed herbal reference, decadent cookbook, and garden manual all in one, The Healing Garden is an essential guide to designing the herb garden of your dreams and growing 30 of the most healing medicinal plants on the planet with time-tested organic methods. It is written for home gardeners and anyone looking to bring the therapeutic benefits of healing herbs into their garden, kitchen, and apothecary. Plus, it comes with a set of incredible bonuses that you can learn more about in the Healing Garden Gateway.
7Song is an herbalist, teacher and naturalist who lives in Ithaca, NY. He is the director and main instructor at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine that he started in 1992. He is a founding member, Director of holistic medicine and an herbal practitioner at the Ithaca Free Clinic. This is an integrative clinic with herbalists, doctors, nurses, acupuncturists and other health care workers all offering their services for free. The clinic opened its doors in 2006. Some of his other focuses in herbal medicine include clinical work, first aid, wildcrafting and botany. He also spends a lot of time taking photographs of things that run, crawl, fly or photosynthesize.
7Song teaches Materia Medica for the Herbal Immersion Program.
Meghan is one of the Chestnut School’s primary instructors through her written lessons, and is the principal pollinator of the school’s social media community—sharing herbal and wild foods wisdom from the flowery heart of the school to an ever-wider field of herbalists, gardeners, healers, and plant lovers.
She has been in a steady relationship with the Chestnut School since 2010—as an intern and manager at the Chestnut Herb Nursery; as a plant-smitten student “back in the day” when the school’s programs were taught in the field; and later as a part the school’s woman-powered professional team. Meghan lives in the Ivy Creek watershed, just north of Asheville, North Carolina.
Asia Suler is a writer, teacher, herbalist and energy worker who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. She is the creator and concoctress behind One Willow Apothecaries, a small Appalachian-grown business that offers handmade and heartfelt medicine. She is also the muse behind Woolgathering & Wildcrafting, a blog detailing the potent magic of good medicine: plants and dreams, primitive skills and developing a deep connection with the land.
Asia began her journey into healing and plant-based medicine after early years of chronic pain. The experience— which pushed her into a deep search for healing, both within and without— led her to the altar of the green world, where she fell irrevocably in love with plants. She began her formal study of herbs with Juliet Blankespoor and the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine and has continued to study, seek, listen and learn ever since. Asia’s work is a unique combination of western and energetic herbalism, stone medicine, earth-centered shamanism and intuitive healing. She holds a B.A in English, Anthropology and Native American studies from Vassar College and a Reiki Master degree. Asia teaches at schools and gatherings across the country and is blessed to work intimately with people and plants, spirit and stones.
She is currently in the depths of working on her forthcoming book about intuition and earth-based living.
Asia teaches Energetic Plant Medicine, Flower Essences, and Medicine Making for the Herbal Immersion Program and Medicine Making Course.
Marc Williams is an ethnobiologist. He has studied the people, plant, mushroom and microbe interconnection intensively while learning to employ botanicals and other life forms for food, medicine, and beauty in a regenerative manner. His training includes a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies concentrating in Sustainable Agriculture with a minor in Business from Warren Wilson College and a Master’s degree in Appalachian Studies concentrating in Sustainable Development with a minor in Geography and Planning from Appalachian State University. He has spent over two decades working at a multitude of restaurants and various farms and has traveled throughout 30 countries in Central/North/South America and Europe as well as all 50 states of the USA. Marc has visited over 200 botanical gardens and research institutions during this process while taking tens of thousands of pictures of representative plants and other entities. He has taught hundreds of classes to thousands of students about the marvelous world of people and their interface with other organisms while working with over 100 organizations and particularly as a Board of Directors member of the United Plant Savers and online at the website Botany Everyday. Marc’s greatest hope is that this effort may help improve our current challenging global ecological situation.
Lorna Mauney-Brodek is a traveling herbalist, medicine maker, wildcrafter and teacher dedicated to promoting diversity, environmental responsibility, and social justice through herbalism. Growing up “americana,” her health practices reflect the abundantly diverse influences of these lands to blend western medical herbalism, traditional Chinese five phase, Ayurveda, and southern folk. Early barefoot adventures in the Appalachian foothills and global wanderings with tent-packing parents led to more formal trainings in plant medicine. She completed an herbal residency with Michael Moore at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine and her clinical internship at the Blue Ridge School for Herbal Studies. Lorna is the founder and director of the Herbalista Health Network, a web of clinical services, health education, and service opportunities that provide earth-based care to underserved communities. Lorna teaches around the country and abroad, spreading the Herb Bus method and celebrating our capacity to build community through herbalism.
Lorna teaches Materia Medica in the Herbal Immersion Program, and Aromatherapy and Hydrotherapy in the Herbal Immersion Program and Medicine Making Course.
Introducing Our Brilliant Lineup of Contributors
Our Herbal Immersion Program features regional profiles — a tour of the optimal herbs suited for specific climates –written by seasoned herb gardeners from around the country. The course also has a module on herbal livelihoods, which showcases the lives and businesses of many of our core instructors and contributors. Most of the contributors shared their herbal insights as a writer for our regional profiles or as a featured herbalist in our herbal livelihood module.
Anne Gaines grew up in southwest Virginia where, in her early years, her family had a large beef farm. When the family quit farming due to economics, she learned, with encouragement from her parents, how to grow a vegetable garden. After attending Brevard College for 2 years, she started learning about organic agriculture by working on different farms in WNC and western Massachusetts. She and her husband own Gaining Ground Farm in Leicester, NC. Their farm is home to a herd of Red Devon cattle, a Jersey milk cow, a flock of chickens, and several acres of vegetable-growing bottomland. They love the farming lifestyle and are truly devoted to producing good food.
Ayo Ngozi Drayton
Ayo Ngozi Drayton is a community herbalist, historian, and artist committed to documenting traditional herbal practices of the African diaspora and making evidence-based herbal education accessible to all. Ayo holds a master’s degree from Cornell University in Africana studies and the Maryland University of Integrative Health in Clinical Herbal Medicine. Ayo is an instructor at Wild Ginger Herbal Center in Maryland and Costa Rica, has designed and contributed to numerous courses at the Herbal Academy, and teaches at conferences and herbal schools in the US and abroad. In her clinical practice, Ayo works with clients of all ages using an approach that integrates scientific knowledge and traditional wisdom to maintain wellness and support common imbalances. She’s also the founder and CEO of an herbal education startup, The Creative Root. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Ayo lives in New Bedford, Massachusetts with her family.
Becky Beyer started her crazy love affair with all things homesteading while growing up on a farm in central New Jersey. After getting her BS in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont, she moved to Asheville, North Carolina to explore all the amazing work being done in this beautiful bioregion. She teaches spoon carving, all aspects of organic farming, is a practitioner of natural horsemanship, a burgeoning illustrator and musician. Want to know a crazy historical fact about a plant? Ask her, she just might know. You can get Becky’s take on folk magic, rewilding and local plantlore by visiting her blog Blood and Spicebush.
Becky teaches Soil Science, Organic Pest Management, and Composting for the Herbal Immersion Program.
Brandon Ruiz is a community herbalist and urban farmer living in Charlotte, NC. He owns Atabey Choreto Medicinals and directs the CLT Herbal Accessibility Project and spends his time working in urban gardens, making medicine and working with his community. Brandon works mainly with plants of the tropics, specifically from the Caribbean and in Borikén (Puerto Rico), his ancestral homeland.
Heather "Brydie" Harris
Heather “Brydie” Harris (they/them) is an independent garden enthusiast, animal lover, and academic. Brydie’s research interests are based in the Black queer experience through the framework of womanist and queer theory and theology via transcontinental social justice imaginaries and Afrofuturistic thought. Brydie is a Black, multiracial, non-binary femme, nurturer, and scholar-activist. They align themselves with the latest iteration of the Black freedom movement: Black Lives Matter, as well as indigenous communities around the globe. They like science fiction, cats, plants, and lodging spiritual warfare against fascism. Brydie is a PhD Candidate in Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville and holds a MA in Social Justice and Ethics and a BA in Women and Gender Studies.
Catherine Campbell is the director and founder of Bright Planning. Since 2006, she has consulted for small businesses, large corporations, and New York Times bestselling authors. She launched Bright Planning in 2014 with a proprietary marketing plan model, and coupled it with her vision to help sustainable, exceptional businesses market better using the art of storytelling and the science of attention. Her thought leadership appears in numerous outlets including CNBC, Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg Businessweek, Authority Magazine, and The Muse. She holds writing degrees from UNC-Asheville and Queens University and formerly taught at Lenoir Rhyne University. Catherine is from Western North Carolina and has lived in Asheville since 2000. In her spare time, Catherine enjoys dancing around the kitchen, embarrassing her son, gardening, urban homesteading, and reading.
Chuck Marsh was a pioneer in ecological landscape design and consulting practices, and founder of Useful Plants Nursery, an edible landscape plant nursery located south of Black Mountain, NC. Chuck had over thirty five years of experience working with the plants, soil, water, climate and people of North Carolina to design and install place appropriate, productive, and sustainable home and commercial landscapes. His career spanned the wholesale and retail nursery business as well as landscape gardening and landscape contracting businesses. Through his company, Living Systems Design, he taught people about edible landscaping, biological economics, and Permaculture Design, which he did locally, nationally and internationally; growing edible and medicinal plants for present and future abundance; and consulting with homeowners and landowners to design and create beautiful, productive, resource conserving landscapes that celebrate and deepen our connection to the natural world. Sadly, Chuck passed away in 2017.
Chuck’s wisdom is shared in his Permaculture Principles lesson for the Herbal Immersion Program.
Deb Soule is an herbalist, biodynamic gardener, teacher and author of A Woman’s Handbook of Healing Herbs and How To Move Like A Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants. Raised in a small town in western Maine, Deb began organic gardening and studying the medicinal uses of herbs at age 16. Her faith in the healing qualities of plants and her love of gardening led Deb to found Avena Botanicals Herbal Apothecary in 1985. Five years earlier while in college, Deb lived in Nepal near three Tibetan monasteries and was deeply moved by the Tibetan people’s commitment to easing physical ailments and mental and emotional upsets with plants, prayer and other spiritual practices. Today Deb tends Avena Botanicals’ three acres of medicinal herbs, works year round with Avena’s eleven staff, gives herb walks and classes, studies and photographs pollinators and plants and consults with clients and health care practitioners. In 2011 Avena Botanicals became the first farm in Maine to become biodynamically certified by Demeter. Deb’s deep love and devotion to medicinal plants and pollinators is expressed through her teachings and her latest book, How To Move Like A Gardener.
Along with his wife Genna, Doug Wolkon runs Kaua’i Farmacy, a bio-diverse herbal farm, home to over 60 medicinal herbal plants. The Farmacy offers teas and other herbal products and also hosts tours of their medicinal herb gardens. The gardens are diversely planted in complimentary groupings of multiple species and are meticulously hand-harvested. If you are interested in eco-traveling through the Hawaiian islands, or for those who may have interest in starting a Farm to Apothecary Ecotourism business model themselves, we’d highly suggest visiting Kauai Farmacy and their lovely garden oasis. Visit their website to buy products or book a tour!
Emily Ruff, Executive Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living 501c3, is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. The roots of her study and background in botanicals were cultivated during her childhood, wandering the wilderness of Central Florida with her father, a botanist and professor, and digging in the soil with her grandfather, an urban farmer. Her journey into herbalism was sparked in adolescence, when she traveled to Guatemala and studied with local healers.
Returning to the United States, she completed apprenticeships with beloved Western herbalists including Rosemary Gladstar and George D’Arcy. Emily continues her annual travels to study indigenous healing traditions throughout Central and South America to this day, gathering knowledge of plant medicine from the tropics to bring back to her home state of Florida, where her efforts focus on restoring the bioregion’s melting-pot-apothecary into modern practice. She currently lectures throughout Florida and the United States at conferences and universities, and offers small-batch medicinal preparations through her product line, Orenda Herbal. Under her direction, the Florida School of Holistic Living runs a professional herbal training program, a community clinic, a teaching garden, a seed library, educational outreach in prisons, and the annual Florida Herbal Conference. Today, Emily stewards an herbal urban homestead in Central Florida with her husband, where she lives her joy immersed in the healing environment of her backyard garden. Through a daily practice of meditation and digging her fingers in the dirt, the plants continue to be her greatest teachers.
Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz
Geoffrey “Geo” Edwards, L.Ac (he/him/his) is an educator and healing artist whose practice is primarily centered in herbal medicine, art therapy, and gardening. He is the owner of Grain & Pestle LLC, an herb apothecary and plant nursery, and the creator of Nu Healing Arts Garden, a teaching garden and incubator for his studio & healing arts practices. In addition to his creative practice, Geo is a Guest Lecturer and Clinic Faculty in the acupuncture program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Geo often facilitates plant walks and workshops on numerous topics ranging from ecology, the 5 elements, and creative writing to herb cultivation and art-as-social action. He loves storytelling and building with his wife and sons about all things art, music, genealogy, food. https://www.nuhealingarts.com
Greg Hottinger, MPH, RD, has a master’s in nutrition, practices as a wellness coach, and is co-owner of NOVO Wellness, a health consulting company. He is a teaching faculty member of Wellcoaches, Inc. and helps hospitals and weight management programs use coaching skills to better support the lifestyle change process. Greg consults with NBC’s The Biggest Loser website and is the author of the Best Natural Foods on the Market Today (Huckleberry Mountain Press, 2004) and co-author of Coach Yourself Thin (Rodale, 2012). He co-authored the article “3 Ways to Help Your Overweight Clients Get on Track” (IDEA Fitness Journal, May 2012) and teaches Becoming Bendy, a 37 day program on Mindful Eating & Moving.
Greg began his career 15 years ago at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, worked with the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, and continues to remain focused on helping his clients achieve long-term weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle. Greg is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. He currently is developing a curriculum for helping parents navigate the challenges of modern day living and raise healthy children. He is married, lives in Colorado, and has four children.
Jade is the director and founder of the The School for Aromatic Studies. Her school is internationally respected for providing balanced, progressive and inspiring education that is cultivating a new generation of aromatherapists. She has been sharing her love of the aromatic world for over twenty-five years through her numerous online programs as well as in person classes throughout the country. Jade is the author of the textbook Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers. She served for many years as the president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Association. Jade enjoys gardening, spending time with her son, reading and researching, making her own medicine from both herbs and essential oils, and just being outside in the natural world.
Dr. James Duke
Dr. James Duke was one of our most treasured herbalists here in America. Sadly, he passed away in 2017. He authored over 30 books on herbal medicine, including the long-time bestseller, The Green Pharmacy. With a Ph.D. in both Ethnobotany and Botany, Dr. Duke’s knowledge is virtually unmatched. He worked as a botanist for the USDA for nearly 30 years, where he developed the Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, which remains one of the most frequently consulted areas of the USDA website.
Dr. Duke and his wife Peggy collected medicinal plants for over 60 years, and in 1977, they created the Green Farmacy Garden sanctuary on their land in Fulton, Maryland. The teaching garden hosts approximately 300 native and non-native species of medicinal plants. Juliet was honored to interview Dr. Duke in his garden for the Herbal Immersion Program. Photo credit: Steven Foster
Joe Hollis received a B.A. from the University of NC at Chapel Hill in 1965, and then spent 3 years in Borneo with the Peace Corps. In 1972 he founded Mountain Gardens as a botanical garden of economic plants. As an original member of the “Newman consortium”, he is one of the pioneers of Chinese medicinal herb cultivation in the U.S., and continues extensive annual trials of seeds obtained by exchange with a network of botanical gardens. He also works closely with United Plant Savers, NC Natural Products Association (founding board member) and other groups dedicated to preserving native medicinals through the development of cultivation techniques. Mountain Gardens now includes the largest collection of medicinal herbs in the eastern U.S., and is a major source for herb seeds and plants, both retail and wholesale. Facilities also include an extensive research library, and pharmacy dispensing both Chinese and western herbs and producing tinctures, extracts, salves and other preparations.
Since 1980, Mr. Hollis has lectured, consulted and taught workshops in medicinal herb identification, cultivation and processing at Mountain Gardens and at various colleges and conferences in North Carolina, he also teaches 5-8 apprentices annually. The gardens are regularly toured by university and herb school classes. Mountain Gardens sells its seeds, plants and preparations at herb fairs and medicinal herb conferences, and through the Mountain Gardens website.
Joe teaches Cultivation Techniques for the Herbal Immersion Program.
Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino
Raised with her Penobscot culture and Native American spiritual practices, Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino realized the healing powers of nature at a young age. She received a Certificate in Herbal Therapeutics and attended the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies. She received a Bachelor of Science from UMass, Amherst in ‘Ethnobotany and Holistic Health’, graduating magna cum laude from the Honors College. Here she also received a Certificate in Native American Studies as well as completing premedical coursework. She went on to receive a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the University of Bridgeport, College of Naturopathic Medicine graduating at the top of her class earning the award for ‘Academic Excellence in Naturopathic Medicine’. She completed an advanced externship in pediatrics, women’s health, and family medicine as well as receiving advanced training in Sankaran Homeopathy. She became an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist at the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Hospital in Bronx, NY and a certified practitioner in WTS Therapy.
Jus Crea has lectured extensively on Native American Herbology and leads ethnobotanical tours. She teaches Native American cultures, histories, and traditions. Previously she taught Nutrition at Springfield College and was a primary care physician in Brattleboro, VT. Currently, Dr. Giammarino practices Naturopathic Medicine in Springfield, MA treating people of all ages. Visit her website for more information.
Kathi Keville, an internationally known herbalist, aromatherapist, and gardener has conducted medicinal herbs and aromatherapy seminars in North America and Europe for over 40 years. Her Green Medicine Herb School year-round program offers medicine-making, wild herb walks, herb garden tours, aromatherapy seminars, and an herbal apprenticeship. She is the author of 15 herb, aromatherapy, and gardening books and has been published in seven languages. Her latest book is The Fragrance Garden (2015). She is Director of the American Herb Association of the AHA Quarterly Newsletter, a publication directed at professional herbalists. Kathi co-managed a commercial, organic herb farm for 15 years and now grows 450 medicinal species at her Oak Valley Herb Farm in Northern California’s Sierra foothills. Her web business, Oak Valley Herb Farm, offers her books and herbal and aromatherapy products. Kathi is also product consultant to the aromatherapy and herb industries. Kathi hosts the Garden Forum on KVMR radio, and appears as co-host on Veria TV. She belongs to United Plant Savers, was a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild, and received honors from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, and the American Aromatherapy Association.
Khamé Abayé’s love for naychur began as a child when she was the frequent helper with her mother’s plant sanctuary, which afforded her the opportunity to gain generational enlightenment and hands-on experience. As she grew, so did the sanctuary and her exposure and care for numerous plant species. While venturing into the world of adulthood, her wisdom of herbal healing and love for gardening continued to bloom.
In 2016, Khamé founded NAYCHURSLOVE LTD. CO., to offer bulk herbs, proprietary formulas, and life-centering tools. Khamé currently has an ongoing self-developed program known as an Herbal Integration Module to assist clients in rectifying bodily diseases and issues. She continues to serve with joy and gladness, spreading her love for naychur all over the world. www.naychurslove.global
Lara Pacheco (they/them/she/her) is a Taíno, Latinx mamita that believes part of our collective liberation is accessed through decolonizing ourselves and weaving into the web of ancestral medicine. Lara directly works through this realm with plants, fungi, puppets, music, and dance. When not caring for their family, land, and creatures, Lara runs Atabey Medicine of Seed and Thistle Apothecary, an educational resource that centers Queer, Trans, and Gender fluid Black and Indigenous voices within herbalism. In connection with their Taino roots, Lara is a behike training with the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle and also a Qi gong student with the Ling Gui International Healing Qigong School, and a student with POCA Tech Liberation Acupuncture program to further help bring access to care to everyone.
Larken Bunce is a clinical herbalist, educator, writer, gardener and photographer living and working in the Green Mountains of Vermont. She is founding co-director of Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism (VCIH), which runs a full-time sliding-scale community clinic, and provides intensive clinical herbalist training opportunities and community education. For seven years, she served as core faculty at Goddard College in the Health Arts and Sciences program, and remains deeply interested in education as necessarily life-long and transformative. In addition to serving as core faculty at VCIH, she continues to guest lecture at Goddard and travels nationally as a conference presenter and guest teacher for herbal programs.
Larken’s practice and teaching draw equally from science and spirit, novel practice and tradition, clinic and garden, reflecting her diverse experiences over 20 years in the field. She weaves together Western herbal medicine, classical Chinese medicine, whole-food nutrition, mind-body and narrative medicines, and social justice advocacy. She holds a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health (previously Tai Sophia Institute), as well as certificates in Zen Shiatsu, Swedish/Esalen Massage, and Mind-Body Skills, and is currently completing Somatic Experiencing practitioner training. In all she does, Larken hopes to increase awareness of the capacity of not only medicinal plants, but of all nature and wildness, to sustain and heal. Larken is passionate about clinical mentorship, bridging traditional energetics with biomedical sciences, and restoring Nature to culture through herbal medicine.
Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist who founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. Soul Fire’s food sovereignty work has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Grist 50, and James Beard Leadership Award, among others. Leah’s new book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is a love song for the land and her people.
With a journey that began as a little girl mixing herbs, clays, and mud on her grandparents’ farm, Lucretia VanDyke has been in the industry for over 20 years. She is a Holistic Educator, Speaker, Herbalist, SacredSexologist, Ceremonialist, Spiritual Light Coach, Intuitive Energetic and Reiki Practitioner, Diviner, and world traveler with over 3000 hours of training. She has studied with some of the greats minds of our time and indigenous healers. Lucretia been a holistic esthetician and practitioner for over a decade focusing on integrating indigenous healing rituals, plant spirit medicine, and meditation into modern-day practices. She brings her vivacious spirit and message of self-love in her work to inspire others to embrace their unique beauty and purpose. Her work with herbs and sacred practices honors Women’s Wholeness Medicine, grief work, sexual trauma, ancestor connection, womb healing, self-empowerment, food alchemy, and holistic skin care. You can connect with Lucretia on Facebook, Instagram, and on her website.
Maya Gaddie is a business coach, writer, and mentor to coaches and creative business owners who are ready to create the ultimate client experience for their clients.
She loves sharing what works for her when it comes to self-care and running my business.
McCayne Miller, also known as Maya, is an international entrepreneur, sacred strategist, esoteric healing arts practitioner and devoted ceremonialist. She specializes in building systems and helping organizations scale with a focus on Health and Wellness, Sustainability and Light Manufacturing. McCayne has helped raise over $20M in capital for her clients and has successfully empowered them to add locations, develop sustainable products, onboard employees and open-up new markets.
McCayne has a background in farming and sustainable agriculture, is an herbalist and committed to Mother Earth. Her efforts in biodiesel, renewable energy, sustainability practices and green building include expanding certifications, passing policy initiatives, and trade association reform. From building community gardens to lobbying the Utilities Commission – she is active with boots on the ground as well as in the board room.
Meshell María Orozco
Meshell María Orozco (she/they) is a Latinx community and clinical herbalist, avid plant geek, gardener, wild foods enthusiast, and full-spectrum traditional birth attendant who centers community and ancestral knowledge in her work. Inspired by her experience as an apprentice with the Chestnut School in the early years of the Immersion Program and the fauna and flora of western North Carolina, Meshell has devoted much of the last 12 years studying, sustainably wildcrafting and becoming allies with medicinal plants both in the wild and at home in the garden. Heavily influenced by the traditional medicine and community-focused care of Mexicana curanderas and parteras, she is driven by a basic passion for access to compassionate community-based healthcare and is dedicated to making herbal medicine and well body care accessible to all, especially those who experience increased barriers to care (queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Color).
Currently a student midwife at Birthwise Midwifery School, Meshell holds a Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology, is the founder of Brambleberry Botanicals and has been a member of various grassroots organizations dedicated to healing and reproductive justice including the Sassafras Community Health Collective in Asheville, NC. When not in the apothecary, you can find her in the birth room, in the garden, weaving, writing, or tending the life of an adventurous four-year-old.
Michelle Martello is an award winning designer, digital strategist and founder of Minima Designs.
With over two decades of e-learning and interactive design experience, she’s been around since the start of the digital education revolution. Michelle’s worked with a wide variety of diverse clients including MTV, the National Park Service and Elena Brower creating hundreds of sites, courses and products and mentoring thousands of students.
These days Michelle helps entrepreneurs leverage their online platforms to share (and sell) their knowledge to the world. And she’s devoted to helping designers build their own sustainable businesses doing work that matters. She regularly shares her real-world insights around design, strategy and building a business that loves you back through speaking, mentoring and group training programs.
Michelle lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband Zane. In her down time, she’s a Peloton fanatic and she’s finally learning how to DJ.
Michelle Warner designs tiny companies that are built to last. With an MBA from one of the world’s top business schools and 15+ years growing small businesses, Michelle knows designing for the long term while building in the ability to adapt in the short term is what creates sustainability. It’s the way she grew her first business to 7+ figures, and it’s what she’s used to help 100+ CEOs create businesses that work for the important stuff: profit, energy, passion, and time.
She’s also the creator of Networking That Pays, the introvert-friendly, always awkward-free connection system that brings in reliable leads, consistent referrals and meaningful connections for your business – in 5 minutes a day.
When Michelle’s not building businesses or teaching the art of connection you’ll find her on the shores of her beloved Lake Michigan with her rescue dog, Watson.
Monica Rude left the cold, cloudy winter of Upstate New York in 1988 and moved to the desert. Amazed by the sunshine, glorious profusion of wild-flowers, the special light, the rocks, the clouds, the dirt, the plants, the energy…she fell in love and became… a Desert Woman.
Leaving behind a fulfilling career as a professional nurse, she became involved in organic gardening and was happy to be outside with the plants. She moved to New Mexico in 1990 where she worked at Seeds of Change organic seed farm for several years. She studied herbs with well-known southwest herbalist and author, Michael Moore, then became an herb grower, started a medicinal plant nursery business and herbal product line. Over the years,she has tried to supply the world with bulk herbs, cayenne and Zesto Pesto. She has nurtured a few dozen apprentices and taught at the New Mexico College of Natural Healing in Silver City. Her teaching focus is on herb cultivation for herbalists and backyard gardeners, strategies for gardening in the desert and growing gardens for stress relief. New topics under development include container gardening for those with physical limitations and growing and using herbs for emerging viral illnesses.
She is a teacher and writer on herbs, food and gardening and a staunch advocate for empowerment through self-reliance. Her advice: grow it yourself, make it yourself, cook from scratch, forget the lettuce, eat the weeds. She organizes herbalist gatherings, the local farmers market home and garden expo and promotes local community radio as an educational tool.
Richo Cech started his professional work as an archaeologist and ethnobotanist in East Africa. Upon his return to the United States in 1978, he began cultivating and saving the seed of medicinal plants. Over the years, his gardens have become the basis for Strictly Medicinal Seeds, growers of organic, open pollinated and GMO-free seed and plants of medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, succulents, trees and garden vegetables. Richo and his family produce a popular, bi-yearly, hand-illustrated seed catalog that provides access to this collection of common, quirky, eclectic, and bizarre seeds and plants. Richo is author of “Making Plant Medicine” (2000), “Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs” (2002), and “The Medicinal Herb Grower” (2009).
Richo has botanized in China and Africa, resulting in the introduction of many new and exciting medicinal herb species to gardeners throughout the world. Check his daily postings on Facebook, or simply visit the Strictly Medicinal website.
Sarah Benoit has worked in the web design, SEO, and social media fields since 2003 and has been teaching classes on related subjects since 2006. As President of Creative Original, she has built a wide variety of small business websites over the years. As Co-founder and Lead Instructor for the JB Media Institute, Sarah Benoit leverages her years of experience as a digital marketing strategist to create timely, relevant, and engaging training content. Sarah speaks, trains, and presents on digital marketing topics at conferences and events throughout the year in the Southeast and beyond.
Sarah received the 2017 Woman Executive of the Year award from WomanUp at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She was inducted into Asheville’s 40 Under Forty in 2013 and is a graduate of Leadership Asheville. She is also a 2017 graduate of the Hive Global Leaders program.
Learn more about Sarah at sarahbenoit.com
Sarah Nuñez was born in Bogota, Colombia, and raised in North Carolina. Sarah is a cultural organizer and healer, weaving storytelling, art, hierbas, and movement building throughout her work. She is one of the founders of Aflorar Herb Collective which provides herbal community care and support to organizers, activists, and nurturers across the county. Currently, a resident of Asheville, NC, she organizes around immigrant rights, racial and economic justice, and education access and success for students of the global majority. As a Ph.D. candidate in Education, her research and teaching methods use testimonials and oral histories to uncover healing practices, wisdom, and knowledge of Latinx students in the South. You can learn more about Sarah here: Aflorar Herb Collective and Sarah Nunez Consulting.
I’m Sonia Thompson, marketing strategist, consultant & CEO of Thompson Media Group. After earning my MBA, I spent 9 years at Johnson & Johnson growing multi-million and billion-dollar healthcare brands around the world.
And now, my agency helps brands win customers by delivering remarkable customer experiences. My work with them focuses on the core elements to do so, including cultivating a winning company culture, building diverse high-performing teams, producing attraction marketing, inclusive marketing, and of course delivering the experiences that win customers.
I’m the author of Delight Inside and its companion workbook, host of a top-rated business podcast The Customer Magnet Show, and a columnist at Inc. and Forbes. I’ve conducted more than 150 interviews with experts, executives, and business owners and have dissected their best practices and keys to success. And I’ve published 300+ articles and videos on marketing, entrepreneurship, and business around the web.
I combine all those experiences, from three different worlds, academic, corporate, and entrepreneurship, to bring a unique and dynamic perspective that gives you the insights, training, and tools you need to transform your business into a customer magnet. Learn more at https://www.soniaethompson.com.
Sora Surya No
Sora Surya No is a sacred space holder, strategy alchemist, transformative business coach, corporate leadership consultant, powerful medicine woman, business healer, international retreat leader, inspirational speaker, fire igniter, heart whisperer, and world traveler. She is the producer of Sacred Business Podcast, a co-producer of Priestess TV and the author of the Stay Sacred Journal which you can purchase on Amazon. Sora works with sovereign spiritual womxn entrepreneurs to incorporate the art of feeling sacred into their business through earth-based practices. Sora loves to help people embrace their medicine while sitting in ceremony. She leads highly successful individuals and groups through powerful experiences in her mastermind, on retreats, and from the stage. Sora blends real world experience with mystical transformation, ritualistic practices, inner reflection, conscious communication, and innovative circle work to help soulful leaders create great impact within their communities. Her mission is to remind spiritual womxn leaders that they have an equitable place in entrepreneurship. Please enter her Sacred Business Collective, a free group that has over 600 wildly successful womxn entrepreneurs.
Best-selling author, photographer, consultant, and herbalist, Steven Foster had 40 years of comprehensive experience in the herbal field. He started his career at the Sabbathday Lake, Maine, Shaker’s Herb Department—America’s oldest herb business dating to 1799.
As an international consultant in medicinal and aromatic plant technical and marketing issues, Foster served on projects in Argentina, Armenia, Belize, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, England, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Peru, the Republic of Georgia, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, and elsewhere.
Steven published 18 books in his lifetime. He was senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, including the THIRD EDITION of the new Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Eastern and Central North America (with James A. Duke, 2014) and the Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs with Christopher Hobbs, (2002). He also wrote classics like Herbal Renaissance: Growing, Using, and Understanding Herbs in the Modern World (1993) and the 1999 Independent Publisher’s Association’s Best Title in Health and Medicine—101 Medicinal Herbs.
Foster was senior author of National Geographic’s A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine (with Rebecca Johnson), a 2007 New York Public Library “Best of Reference.” He also authored over 800 articles for numerous trade, popular, and scientific periodicals. An acclaimed photographer with thousands of images in his stock photos files, Foster’s photographs appear in hundreds of publications. He was Associate Editor of HerbalGram, and Chairman of the Board Trustees of the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas. Steven made his home in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Sadly, he passed away in 2022. Photo Credit: Donna Foster
Tom Elmore is co-owner and operator of Thatchmore Farm, an organic family farm in Leicester NC. Thatchmore Farm is a ten-acre farm growing certified organic produce, (about 30 varieties with early season tomatoes and greens being a specialty) as well as ornamentals, mushrooms and Christmas trees. Tom has run successful apprentice programs on the farm for decades. He has grown certified organic fruits and vegetables for 25 years and serves on the Boards of the NC Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association and the Organic Growers School.
Xian R. Brooks
Xian R. Brooks, is a Black, queer, trans, Southern gentleman, from Louisville, Kentucky. Xian received a BS in public health education from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina, and an MPH in community and behavioral health from the University of Colorado Denver. He is a public health professional and community-based birth doula (The Dandy Doula!) and is currently enrolled as an accelerated master’s nursing student at the University of Louisville and working towards being a certified nurse-midwife. He is a Davis-Putter Scholar and the 2021 Anne Braden Award winner for centering anti-racism in every aspect of his work.