The Core of Chestnut School

Meet Team Chestnut

The Chestnut School is woman-owned and primarily women/femme-powered. We are a dynamic team of passionate souls, relishing a life infused with all the bright flavors of the plant world.

We tend to our work like the garden it is—watering our endeavors with devotion and hope, cheering each other on to flower and fruit, and growing companionably with the shared intention to nourish those who are called to study alongside us.

Scroll down to learn about the school’s core characters. Please see our Instructor page to meet our stellar teachers and course contributors, and visit our About the School page to learn more about the Chestnut School. If you enjoy the luscious library of articles on our blog, you can read up on our wonderful writers via our Blog Contributors page.

Juliet Blankespoor is holding her small, white dog, Bia.

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.

Renee Conover (she/her)

Education Director

Renee’s herbal adventures began in southeast Asia, where she traveled extensively for three years. Then, in 2003, she landed in western NC to study permaculture at Earthaven Ecovillage and herbalism at the North Carolina School of Holistic Herbalism (now ASHH), where she met Juliet, founder of the Chestnut School. After herb school, Renee spent fifteen years weaving her magic as the programming and production coordinator at the Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. She now enthusiastically brings her programming and people skills to the Chestnut School. Renee also brings a social justice lens to any work that she does, as she believes that none of us can be truly free until all of us are free. Renee lives in west Asheville where she enjoys dancing and hiking with her partner, cooking for her son, cuddling with her puppy, and gardening solo.

Renee Conover
Carrie Faye Harder

Carrie Faye Harder (she/her)

Website & Design Project Manager

Carrie Faye bounced around the globe as a child, but the lush landscape and equally colorful people of Western North Carolina won her over in 2002. She’s an avid lover of music and the arts and is sweet on graphic design. She’s currently delighted to be building her herbal knowledge and will one day apply it to her own WNC homestead.

Amanda Davis (she/her)

Website & Technology Project Manager

Born in New York, NY and raised in the shadow of the Ramapo Mountains, Amanda has cultivated a deep love for technology, nature, design and plant-based living.

Amanda is a lifelong learner, hardcore gamer, canyon hiker, yoga and fitness enthusiast, and accomplished quad skater. She is currently living in Metro Detroit, on the ancestral land of the Anishinaabe people, with her rescue pup, Langston. Although Amanda enjoys an urban lifestyle, her heart will always remain in the forest.

Amanda Lael Davis stands in front of two computer screens.
Meghan Gemma

Meghan Gemma (she/her)

Social Media Coordinator • Writer • Instructor

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.

Christine Borosh (she/her)

Student Services Manager

Christine grew up in suburban Chicago playing in the seemingly expansive woods behind her childhood home. She fell deeper in love with the magic of the natural world as a teenager while participating in wilderness backpacking trips. This love of nature led her to sustainable agriculture work on organic farms in Alaska, Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina, and Washington. Christine studied at the Chestnut School in 2013 and is thrilled to be back as a part of the Chestnut team to support our students in their herbal learning. Christine currently resides in the magical driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin, the ancestral land of the Ho Chunk Nation, with her partner, children, and wild rescue pup. They dream of creating an abundant homestead with animals and all kinds of edible and medicinal plants in the near future.

Christine Borosh
Sarah Nicole Snyder is holding a woven basket full of freshly picked strawberries.

Sarah Snyder (she/her)

Social Media Specialist

Sarah grew up in a small wooded town outside of Charlotte, NC. She studied music in college before moving to Asheville, NC to study pastry arts. Here she developed a love for plants, gardening, medicine-making, and homesteading. She worked as a photographer, pastry chef, and journalist before coming to Chestnut School for social media. 

Most days you can find her reading with her dog and a mug of tea, getting the perfect shot of her garden, trying out yet another craft, or wrangling chickens back into the yard.

Melissa Quercia (she/her)

Student Services Specialist

Melissa has been a student of herbal medicine for over a decade. She studied at the Forager’s Path School of Botanical Medicine with herbalist Mike Masek in 2011, interned at the Herb Pharm in 2013, and apprenticed with Southwestern herbalist and ethnobotanist Phyllis Hogan from 2014-2023. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and Womxn and Gender Studies.

Melissa currently resides in the Sonoran desert on the ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham and Yaqui people. She loves gardening, walking, and whispering sweet nothings to ephemeral blossoms. Melissa is passionate about sharing the empowering wisdom of plant medicine.

Melissa Quercia, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine's Student Services Specialist.