The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine was founded in Cherokee Nation territory, in what is currently known as Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the botanically rich Southern Appalachian Mountains.
We offer several online opportunities to learn, including the Herbal Medicine Making Course, the Foraging Course: Edible and Medicinal Wild Herbs, and the Herbal Immersion Program. Take a peek at our Course Comparison Chart to see which learning option is the best for you!
Bioregional Herbalism for Personal and Planetary Health
Just as locally grown food is key to long-term sustainability, so is locally grown medicine. That’s why our programs focus on growing your own herbs and all the ways you can enrich your life with edible and medicinal weeds. Preparing herbal medicine is a deeply satisfying and sovereign practice, and an essential aspect of all traditional cultures across the globe.
Our connection to plants as medicine nourishes this ancient spirit and wakes us up to the profound natural cycles of life. We’re honored to share that connection with you, and we hope it brings you as much joy as it brings us!
All are Welcome at the Chestnut School
We will always welcome people from all races, nationalities, socio-economic backgrounds, ages, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities, as well as cultural, political, religious, and other affiliations. ALL are welcomed with open arms at The Chestnut School.
We foster an inclusive and safe educational space through open communication, humility (a willingness to listen & learn from our mistakes), and mutual respect for different beliefs and backgrounds.
Sharing the same beliefs as your fellow students is not a requirement to study with the Chestnut School, but treating everyone with dignity and respect is.
Juliet Blankespoor (she/her)
Founder • Visionary • Creative Director
Our Mountain Home
Juliet moved to the southern Appalachians after studying with several herbalists –7Song, Michael Moore, and James Snow—and sowing her wild oats (herbal style—which involved camping in pristinely beautiful spots to gather herbs, seaweed and mushrooms). After settling in the mountains and planting her herb garden, she opened the Chestnut School. Around the same time, Juliet founded the Chestnut Herbal Nursery, which she owned and operated and planted and propagated for seven years.
After many years of teaching intensive, all-outdoor herbal programs, Juliet has decided she is a raging introvert and her teachings are best suited to the virtual sphere. Juliet is delighted to continue to teach and connect with herb lovers through the ethers. See her full bio here.
We’re dedicated to promoting all kinds of diversity in the field of herbal medicine. To that end, we’ve partnered with several non-profit organizations that work with underserved populations in sustainable agriculture. We’re donating scholarships to both workers and volunteers in the respective organizations, along with the folks they serve.
Our scholarship program is on hold until further notice. To receive an email when the application period reopens, please sign up for our newsletter list. To find out more, please see our scholarships page.
We support public botanical gardens and plant conservation through annual donations or memberships at the North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville Botanical Gardens, United Plant Savers and the American Chestnut Foundation. Additionally, the Chestnut School is a member of the American Botanical Council, the American Herbalist Guild, and the Herb Society of America.
Here is a testimonial from one of our students – click here for more:
“The Immersion offers so much more than you think you’re going to get. Not only will you learn about these amazing plants and how to grow them, you will also learn about the human body and how herbs affect each system–and not in a general way. These courses teach you how to understand plants in various preparations and how each type of preparation will extract different properties of the plants. You will no longer be doing a web search on remedies for various ailments, because in the Herbal Immersion Program, you are given such tailored and focused instruction that not only includes information, but wisdom on how to apply all of this knowledge. They teach you both the science and the art of herbalism. A student can go as deep as they want with all these tools provided. I cannot express enough gratitude for this course.”
~Marianela Leekley, Online Herbal Immersion student
The Chestnut School is woman owned and primarily women-powered. We are a dynamic team of passionate souls, relishing a life infused with all the bright flavors of the plant world.
Scroll down to learn about the school’s core characters. Please see our Instructor page to meet our stellar teachers and contributors.
Kathryn Blau (she/her)
Integrator • Operations Manager
Kathryn grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and got hooked on all things gardening, homesteading, herbalism, and permaculture after moving to Asheville in 2006. Her initial introduction to herbs was through the lens of Ayurveda while participating in a yoga training, and she later studied Chinese herbalism while working at an acupuncture clinic. She is deeply enamored with herbalism and the incredible abundance of native and wild medicinals found in the Appalachian Mountains. She is equally passionate about social justice and the intersections of herbalism and equity. Kathryn lives with her partner and daughter outside of Asheville.
Sarah Nuñez (she/her/Ella)
Director of Equity, Social Justice, & Community Engagement
Sarah’s focus with the school is to increase efforts, internally and externally, that co-create policies, cultures, and programs of equity and social justice for the school, staff, students, and communities served. Sarah was born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in North Carolina. She’s a cultural worker and healer, weaving storytelling, art, hierbas, and movement building throughout her work and organizing. 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. Sarah is passionate about student and family engagement, and using healing, art, and organizing modalities as avenues for transformative change. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Western Carolina University as well as a Bachelor’s of Art in Interdisciplinary Studies from UNC-Asheville. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services (College Student Personnel) from the University of Louisville.
Renee Conover (she/her)
Education Programming & Project Manager
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.
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, and accomplished quad skater. She is currently living in Metro Detroit, on the ancestral land of the Anishinaabe people, and enjoying an urban lifestyle with her high-maintenance chihuahua, but her heart is always in the forest.
Meghan Gemma (she/her)
Social Media Coordinator • Writer • Instructor
Meghan 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 Specialist
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, daughter, 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.
Sarah Sorci (she/her)
Student Services Specialist
Sarah Sorci grew up near the Lake Erie shores of Buffalo, New York and is happy to be back in her home region. She lives with her husband on six acres in the Allegheny foothills, the homeland of the Seneca Nation. With a degree in Environmental Studies, sustainability fuels Sarah’s love for local, homegrown herbalism. She is a long-time fan of the Chestnut School and is thrilled to work with a team that is so garden- and botany-minded.
After completing a Holistic Herbalism program with the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine in 2014, Sarah headed home to start Sweet Flag Herbs, offering local classes and consultations. She loves connecting with the WNY herbal community as an Herbalists Without Borders chapter co-coordinator. Sarah is also jazzed about her writing project, A Nourishing Harvest, where she explores topics that support the safe, toxin-informed harvest of food and medicine.
Jessica Janoff (she/her)
Student Services Specialist
Jessica is a North Carolina native from near the coast in Greenville, NC. Most people are hyperbolic when they say they’ve ‘always’ been interested in their field of choice. At 8 she pulled a pathophysiology book off a Dean’s office shelf, enamored with it, thrilled to keep it, and interest ignited in healing and science. Now Jessica lives in Midcoast, Maine, within the Nanrantsouak territory within the Wabanaki Confederacy, with her husband and three boys in an old farmhouse she fills with plants, tinctures, and one day a poison garden.
Five years spent as an herbalist with vast knowledge in product development led Jessica to start Nourished Earth Apothecary to provide one on one services to clinical clients seeking herbal remedies for chronic ailments, physical conditions, and allergies. Ten years of providing support to students in college and laboratory work while obtaining her Biochemistry degree from North Carolina State University shaped her dedication to academic achievement and investment across many ages and education levels. Jessica serves her clients, and community with a blend of Eastern and Western herbalism perfectly through equanimity, accessibility, and advocacy.
Amber Brown (she/her)
Executive/Personal Assistant • Scholarship Coordinator
Amber Brown is a Native Alaskan from the Tlingit & Haida tribe of southeast Alaska and the Nisga of British Columbia. She grew up in Homer, Alaska in the house her father built, processing salmon, picking berries, learning to bead necklaces and earrings and watching her grandmother dance in the Naa Kahidi dance group in Sitka, Alaska. In 2009 she migrated from her ancestral home in the far north of Alaska to reside in the rich mountainous fold of the Cherokee Nation territory, in what is currently known as western North Carolina, where she currently homesteads with her partner and their three spritely children. Amber and her family are passionate about wild foods and medicine, as well as native trees and forest medicinals that promote longterm health of the land. Amber is a concoctress of wild food delicacies and puts her culinary expertise to the test at the Chestnut School by helping to create and test herbal and wild foods recipes. She also supports her team with recipe development, modeling and photography assistance, and various administrative tasks. Amber is also the Scholarship Coordinator for the school. In addition to her passion for wild food and arts, she’s also adept at gathering and propagating local plants and minerals and makes small-batch, seasonal tinctures, potions, and brews. Visit www.gloriousforestfarm.com to learn more about Amber and her creations.