Workshop Descriptions

Stay Tuned for the announcement of this years workshop line-up! Listed below are the workshops from 2017:

Laura Gilmour

Learn to Love Bitters

Bitters: “liquor that is flavored with the sharp pungent taste of plant extracts and is used as an additive in cocktails or as a medicinal substance to promote appetite or digestion”. These historic herbal formulas have made a strong renaissance in 21st century and for good reason. In this class, we will discuss the fascinating history of bitters formulas, their use in modern mixology, and the art and science of making and using bitters formulas for health and cocktails. Come prepared to awaken your senses through this informative and flavorful workshop.

Jackie McMillan

Building Wild Nutrition into Everyday Meals

Because of their nutritional density, especially in health-supporting factors, many wild foods hover on the border between food and medicine. As a result, adding them into daily meals is best done in a gradual way (rather than all at once). How do you preserve them? Where and how do you use them? What quantities do you start with, and how do you make sure you are going to enjoy it — or that your family is going to even try it?


Agrichemicals, GMOs, Soil Health, and Plant Health

Synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers have been increasingly in use since the Allied countries were economically pressured into finding “peacetime uses” for weapon factories, and for toxic chemical factories at the conclusion of World War 1. Hence began a war on insects, a war on germs, and a war on healthy lifestyles — wars that are now costing us in immune, fertility, neurological, learning, and other rising challenges. More recently, the genetics of wild foods and medicines have been shifting as their close GMO relatives interbreed — with further disturbing health implications. Soil microbial health is the source and basis for plant health, and for gut microbial health. Microbial health is what keeps us humans alive, healthy, fertile, and sharp. Get cutting edge research on how to avoid harming yourself, your friends, and your children.


John Redden

The Psycho-Spiritual Healing Remedies of Hildegard of Bingen

True Holistic Healing embraces the totality of a person. The physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social and cosmic components need to be addressed and integrated. Hildegard clearly understood the needs of the community she treated in her infirmary. We will introduce the participant to the herbal & food medicines within the understanding of ancient humoural four element theory. To this, we will learn the transformative practice of transmutation of consciousness for the production of virtues as taught by Hildegard. Music and spiritual exercises will accompany the presentation.

Advanced Clinical Therapeutics

In this workshop, we will use a method that takes us from the intake to prescription in a series of steps. We will learn how to see and think in a natural holistic manner. Every body system and its organs have corresponding sets of herbs that help them function properly. We will rely on the innate intelligence of the body to guide us through the choices of herbs that form our remedy. We will have notes organizing herbs by body systems and action categories. Following our method, we will gain confidence in our herbal skills.


Andrea and Matthias Reisen

The Dirty Dozen

No not the 70’s movie but another group of individuals or plant characters that we call the dirty dozen with great honor and respect.  They are the roots of the plants that are under foot as we walk upon the earth.  These roots that pull up rich medicine from the earth and are our connection to the vital life force that we need.  They help keep us grounded and nourishing our root charka.  Learn what they feel like, how they taste in the raw, and some interesting way to BE with them.


Two Farmers and a Dream

Two Farmers & a Dream with Andrea and Matthias Reisen of Healing Spirits Herbs. Join Andrea and Matthias as they shares the story of ‘how two young farmers became two old farts on the farm’ and how that farm ~ and those farmers ~ are thriving. From harvesting weeds from their front yard, to cultivating and wildcrafting over 3 tons of herbs each year, to innovative drying sheds, an aquaponics growing room, and a new mushroom growing operation, Healing Spirits continues to be fueled by solar energy, hard work, and passion for the plants. At a time when any sane person would think about hanging up the digging fork, Andrea and Matthias, continue to dig deep, farm with a passion, and inspire others to do the same along the way. If you love growing plants and are interested in farming, this workshop will give you a lot of practical information and tools.


Diane Tait

Creating Sanctuary

In this workshop, we will explore creating sanctuary in three very different environments; wild spaces, backyard gardens and abandoned urban wastelands. You will be introduced to United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary Network, my garden of over 60 different medicinal herbs, and a bold and beautiful new park in New York City developed on an abandoned raised railway line called the Highline. There will be plenty of time to brainstorm new ideas. It is more important than any other time in history to protect and honour the beautiful diversity that comprises our fantastic planet.


Developing Your Relationship with Nature

Just as in any other good friendship, one must take the time, make the commitment, and put in some effort to develop relationships in a natural environment. After a brief introduction, come with me into the woods as we work on how we interact with our green brothers and sisters. How does one become friends with a tree? A plant? A landscape? Slowing down is mandatory in this class!


Aku Dunyo Richter

Sacred Fire, Sacred Touch

Traditional African healing can take many different forms. Healers work through spiritual, herbal and physical channels to help patients overcome illnesses of the body and mind. In this class, we will discuss how healers of the Ewe tribe in West Africa use fire, smoke, touch and herbs to help patients suffering from conditions as varied as mental illness, chronic pain, and lack of mobility.


Some Aphrodisiacs of West Africa

Most men in Africa take aphrodisiac herbs; especially men aged 50 or more. In West Africa there are many homemade and commercially made preparations used by men. But women also take aphrodisiac herbs, to increase sensitivity and sexual enjoyment, and when necessary they give herbs to their men to improve performance. In this class, we will discuss some of the important aphrodisiac herbs and how they help to reinvigorate the sexual lives of men and women. In this way, these herbs promote healing between men and women.


Conrad Richter

Cilantro, Mimics and Memes

Cilantro is, of course, one of the most popular fresh herbs of the world, essential to the cuisines of Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, North Africa, Southern Europe, Russia and much of Asia. But cilantro is not universally loved — many people say it tastes and smells like “dish soap,” “paint”, “dirt” and worse. That the world is so sharply divided between those who love cilantro and those who hate it has a fascinating genetic basis that was only recently unraveled by research. What has emerged is that people are more likely or less likely to love cilantro depending on their ethnic origin. Our genetics plays a big role in how we experience herbs and how herbs affect our bodies. We will look at the different types of cilantro, coriander, and their mimics such as Vietnamese coriander, culantro and papalo, that have became popular in different regions of the world. And we will ask the fascinating question, what if our genetics also affects how well herbs heal us.


What Herbs to Know and Grow When All Hell Breaks Loose

We all hope it never happens, but what if our society falls apart? What herbs might be important to know about and use when our food supply is threatened and our health care system does not work as well as it does now? Knowing what herbs protect us from contagions, and provide us with scarce nutrients, and help us cope with everyday illnesses and injuries, will be critically important in a chaotic world. And if the supply of commercially grown and imported herbs is threatened, what herbs can we grow and find locally that will help our families stay healthy?


Christopher Sowton

Homeopathy– Using the Healing Energies of Nature

Homeopathy can be defined as medicine where the healing intervention is chosen for its similarity to, not its opposition to, the disease state. The principle of like cure like is something that seems counter-intuitive, even absurd, to many people. Yet homeopathy has brought forth about many remarkable healings and is used by millions of people every day around the world. Every substance and species in nature has its own energetic signature, and can therefore be used a healing agent. Plants, animals, minerals, poisons, subtle forces such as magnetism and moonlight, disease products and pathogens, everything in the natural world can be used by homeopaths in the service of healing. In this workshop, Christopher will explore how the healing potentials of natural substances can be discovered, amplified, and used in homeopathic practice.


Caleb Musgrave/Kinew Nini

The Anishinaabeg and Our Plant Relatives

In this Workshop, Caleb will discuss the relationship between the Human Nation and the Plant Nation, from the eyes of the Anishinaabeg (Ojibway Nation). He will discuss the importance of Manomin (Wild Rice), Mitigomin (Acorn) and Zinziibaakwad (Maple Sugar) as food sources. He will also cover the importance of plants for lodges (Cattail, Ash, Basswood, Elm, etc.), Watercrafts (Birch, Cedar, Spruce, etc.), and for traditional crafts (Red Osier Dogwood, Hemlock, Bulrush, etc.). There will be tangible sharing of objects, and a lot of time for questions to be answered.


The Magic of Making Spruce Gum Glue

In this Workshop, Caleb and those in attendance will discuss the attributes of the mighty resin of the spruce tree (and her coniferous cousins), while making several varieties of glue from the gum she produces. From fixing arrowheads to shafts, to tarring plant fibre, fishing line, to waterproofing a birch bark canoe, there are many types of glue, with different characteristics and ingredients to make them work to their full potential.


Tracey TieF

Aromatherapy as Botanical Medicine

What is aromatherapy, and when and how should it be used? How did aromatherapy emerge and what is its place in the history of medicine? What are the advantages and disadvantages of essential oils versus herbs and other botanical preparations? What principles hold true for both aromatherapy and herbalism? We will consider the views of opponents of aromatherapy, as well as the misinformation created by multi level marketing companies to arrive at an understanding of the place of aromatherapy within botanical medicine.


Practical Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit

Plants can gift us with their strengths and experiences through the use of essential oils to help us with emotional, psychological and spiritual challenges. Using the lens of ancient perfumery, we will explore the relationships between plant and human bodies. We will learn to tell the plants story in order to understand its gifts for us mind body and spirit. Each participant will create a perfume to meet their needs.


Rene Suarez

DIY Off-Grid Homesteading: First Steps

Rene Suarez will share his experience starting an off-grid farmstead community, and offer a taste of his new Ecovillage Incubator program. This is a great opportunity to learn from feet-on-the-ground working in with Ontario’s weather and laws. Participants will learn some tools and frameworks and apply them to three Ontario start-up scenarios, including highlights from Bee City Canada & Skillseed’s own pollinator habitat / food forest /off-grid homestead near Orangeville, started in 2016, which is planning to grow 3 more acres of Food Forest and 2 acres of organic market garden in 2017. This presentation includes elements of permaculture, green building, upcycling, living off-grid, living in community, native ecology, pollinator habitats & education, holistic lifestyle, and social enterprise.

Emily Ruff

Tending to the Soul: Trauma Informed Herbalism and Plant Allies for Grief
Explore how plant medicine offers us tools to tend to spiritual health and emotional wellness during these turbulent times in the world. We will discuss a variety of botanical modalities and complementary strategies to address this oft-overlooked area of healthcare. Our discussion will include self-care strategies for caregivers, first responders, and health professionals.

Alexis Burnett

Foraging and Wildcrafting Edible and Medicinal Plants, and our Caretaking Responsibility
On this walk we will discover and learn about many of the edible and medicinal plants growing onsite at the Ganaraska Forest Center. We will talk about how to forage and wildcraft in not only a sustainable way, but also how to work like a caretaker. As more and more people venture into wild places to harvest plants, it is more important than ever to learn how to leave the land better and healthier than you found it. Sometimes our harvesting can increase the vitality of a plant community or have a lasting positive impact on the land. We will discuss some essential wildcrafting ethics as well as ways that we can ‘give back’ to the earth that provides us with so much abundance. Being a good caretaker or steward of the land is one way that we can make sure that our wild and not so wild plant communities last and thrive long into the future.


Marianne Beacon

Resiliency through Prevention

People who are unwell often want to do everything possible to get well again, but what about before sickness? The stats are stacked up against us for lifelong wellness, even as we live longer. With climate change and increasingly stressed medical systems, it seems more important than ever to promote a focus on building resiliency, even in healthy individuals. Marianne will talk about several areas where our health is at particular risk, and some practical ways to promote health in those areas for families or practitioners advising their clients.


It’s in the Ferment

Healthy digestion leads to healthy everything, even affecting the immune system and mental health. Probiotics are part of a healthy digestion. What better way to get them into your system and thriving than through food. This will be a hands on workshop where we will talk about and make Kombucha (herbally inspired), as well as a batch of Kimchi and demonstrate how to make Sauerkraut. These are all easy recipes to make at home. Get your kitchen brewing ferments!



Lisa Messenger

A Personal Sharing of her Training in Indigenous Medicine

Herbalism Acknowledging the Indigenous Perspective. Lisa Messenger will share her personal experience with working and learning from Native American Healers. Lisa will share the vast differences of how the plant directs the healing from a spiritual approach from original instructions of creation and teachings from this land through her own experience with working Nature Spirit Connection. Energetic uses of plant medicine and how this form of healing encompasses the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical relationship between ourselves as inhabitants of the land and the plant world which can teach us how to best live in balance with the land will be discussed. The ancestors are connected to the land. Acknowledging the first people’s herbal knowledge as the original teachings of this land and sharing how we as individuals can better understand the vast contributions of the original people’s knowledge base as entirely an unique perspective of working with all our relations can open our hearts to healing ourselves and the planet we live on.


Working with Plant Spirit Connection Relationship to Heal Within

There is one source with working with Plant Spirit Connection and that is the god in all things. As a plant spirit communicator that has been taught from a indigenous perspective from my spirit helpers and through teachings I have received through ceremonies from the original people of this land I have learned how to work with a direct connection to spirit in how I work with Herbalism. This relationship teaches me something new about Herbs every time I work within this manner. I have been taught from a hands on approach for over 15 years. As an empath, I connect with the plants on an intimate level. The plants share intuitive knowledge and my spirit helpers share from a medical intuitive information perspective what ails a person I am working with. Lisa will share her own experiences working with plant spirit connection and share tools to connect with individual frequencies of plants. We will do a group exercise connecting to the plant on a spiritual level and then share our experience in circle format.


Tamara Segal

Invasive Plants as Food & Medicine for People & Planet

Though much maligned, invasive plants play an important restorative role in the health of the earth and her inhabitants. Many of our invasive plants have appeared in abundance in areas where there has been ecological damage, and/or a preponderance of a particular illness. In an attempt to shift the general perspective on invasives from being considered problematic to being viewed as timely helpers, this workshop will explore the ways in which invasives often have a significant remedial effect on the ecosystems, and/or the particular illness(es)/health imbalances prevalent among the populations living where they “invade”.

The Doctrine of Signatures: A Living Exploration

The Doctrine of Signatures is a theory dating back to the middle ages, which suggests that certain notable characteristics of plants indicate aspects of their healing ability in the body. In this workshop, we will look at clues to the healing properties of various living plants, as displayed or symbolized by how they look or behave.


Chris Gilmour

Plants, Fire, Humans – An Ancient Relationship

In this hands on workshop, we will dive into the ancient art of fire making and explore the individual personalities and traits that different plant species contribute to fire. Take your fire skills & relationship to a completely new level as we explore different traditional techniques to lite fires and the unique roles different plants can play in the process.


Wild Foragers Society- Lee Earl & Rebecca (Becky) Lamb

From Wall of Green to Bowl of Greens

Ever wandered your local neighbourhood or garden searching for delicious (or bitter!) wild greens only to feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of seemingly similar plants? Not sure Where to start or nervous about which to add to your stir-fry? Join the Wild Foragers Society on a hands-on plant walk-talk-taste where we will be identifying common edible leaves and shoots that are great for salads, soups and pestos! We will discuss ID features, plant parts used, how and when to harvest – plus highlight which plants should skip the salad bowl altogether. We will also cover some basics around harvesting considerations and sustainability. Rain or shine.


Monika Ghent

Transforming Fear into Courage: Medicine from a Tree Spirit

“You are part of a miraculous natural world that is designed to give you what you need.” – Eliot Cowan Fear in balance is a natural and healthy emotion that arises in us as needed when we feel our life or the lives of those whom we love is threatened. A threat is perceived, fear arises, a solution to the threat is brought forth, safety is restored and the fear subsides. Out of balance fear gets caught in our minds and physical bodies and persists well past its usefulness. When we’re in a state of sustained fear our resilience and ability to adapt to change is greatly impaired as is our health. When fear flows naturally, we are courageous and our adaptability and resilience increase as does our compassion for ourselves, for each other, for the earth. In this experiential workshop, participants will receive the medicine of a tree spirit, which has generously agreed to share its gifts with us. This medicine transforms fear into courage supporting our innate resilience, adaptability, compassion, flow and awe. The workshop will begin with a brief talk about fear and courage, and then participants will have the opportunity to enter into the dream of the tree spirit and receive its medicine. Participants will be lying down for 20 minutes while they receive the tree’s medicine. Please bring something to lie on, a pillow for your head and/or knees and a blanket so you are comfortable as well as paper and pen to record your experience.


Melloooow – Herbs for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

In our modern Western society, we live in an almost perpetual state of stress. Stress is a significant contributing factor in all illness whether it is of a physical, psychological or spiritual nature. When we are stressed out, it is exceedingly difficult to adapt and flow with the changes that life brings.


Nervines are herbs that strengthen or improve the functioning of the nervous system and help to reduce the negative impact of stress on our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. Nervine herbs fall along a continuum from stimulating to sedating and are used to address all the various manifestations of stress from anxiety, depression, mental fatigue and insomnia. Nervine herbs improve our resilience to the slings and arrows that may come our way in our lives helping us to move with greater ease and grace through change.


In this workshop, we’ll begin with an overview of the different types of nervines and you’ll be introduced to many amazing nervine herbs that fall along the continuum of most stimulating to most sedating that either grow wild in our area or can be easily grown in our gardens. We’ll then discuss how to formulate and work with nervines to address the different manifestations of stress. Participants will have the opportunity to try various nervines to experience their medicine.

Terry Vanderheyden

Herbal Remedies for First Aid & Childhood

The presentation will focus on First Aid herbs most helpful to have in your At Home and Travel First Aid Kits. Drawing guidance from acute complaints and childhood aliments, Dr. Terry will guide you through effective natural and herbal relief. From cuts and scrapes, bug bites, tummy aches and nausea to muscle aches, bleeding and poison ivy. All will be covered with effective natural solutions.


History of Western Herbalism: from Native American medicine to the Eclectics and Physiomedicalists up to the modern day.

Have you ever wondered about the origins of Western Herbalism? What is the truth behind the claims of the superiority of Native American herbalism, v. the Western colonial medicine brought over from the Old World? Come out to hear a brief description of the origins of traditional Western Herbalism, as it was taught to early settlers of North America by Native American healers, all the way through the ranks of Physiomedicalism, Thomsonianism, and Eclecticism, up to and including to the modern day.

Zach Owen

A Traditional Chinese Perspective on the Medicinal Properties of Flavours

In this workshop, we will be exploring the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine including yin and yang theory and the five-phase theory. Through the use of these systems of understanding, we learn to better understand the actions that particular flavours have within our bodies. This is a very practical and immediately accessible way of understanding both foods and medicinal herbs. This workshop is aimed at empowering people to be able to better discern how herbs and foods work in the body using associative thinking rather than memorization or previous education.

Mai Duong

The Mysterious Healing Power of Plants

Indigenous people worldwide have relied on the healing energy of the plant kingdom for many centuries. Early healers understood that it was the spirit of the plants that healed their people. The plant spirits were friends, teachers, and allies. This ancient practice is once again alive in the western world. It is called Plant Spirit Medicine.


Heather Cain

Intro to Plant Communication: Opening our Hearts to Nature

Plants are intelligent beings that communicate and make decisions, and humans are hard-wired to bond with nature. In this workshop, we will awaken our innate capacity to relate with plants by opening our hearts and intuitions, and perceiving deeply with our senses. Connecting with plants in this way nourishes body, mind, and spirit, and helps restore health and balance. It also expands our sense of what is possible with plants – what sort of future could we co-create with these amazing beings?


Plant Spirit Bathing

Experience the healing power of plants, water, and prayer. Together we will prepare and receive the blessings of a spiritual plant bath. This ancient tradition is a powerful tool for staying healthy in today’s world. Modern living tends to be hard on our electromagnetic fields – the invisible field of energy that runs through and around each of us. This energy field or aura needs to be maintained for us to be healthy; it gets disrupted by noise, pollution, synthetic chemicals, negative thinking, etc. Over time, this leads to tears and weak spots in the energy field though which our life force can drain, leaving us depleted and depressed. Spiritual plant bathing is an effective way to cleanse, clear, and repair the aura, leaving us revitalized, joyful, and whole. Come prepared to be gently sprinkled and spritzed!


Vita Bowen

Weaving with Willow

Join the Weaving with Willow workshop and learn how and when willow and other wild woods are harvested and prepared and how to work with them. Learn the ancient art of weaving baskets and play with sticks to make something wonderful and fun!  Limited amount of Students, sign up at the registration table on site (Saturday and Sunday at 1:30)


Michael Vertolli

Cedar Medicine

Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is one of the most important medicines of the First Nations peoples of Ontario and was similarly recognized by early French explorers who named this tree arborvitae, the “tree of life.” Cedar is one of the oldest living trees. Many grandmother trees have lived here since well before Europeans arrived in North America. Spiritually, she carries the wisdom of the ages. She holds the wisdom of this land and how to live in good relationship. The medicine of cedar is very relevant to these challenging times. In this workshop we will be exploring some of the many layers of the wisdom of cedar — practical, medicinal, ceremonial and spiritual — and how, through deepening our relationship with this beautiful being, her gifts can help us in many ways.


We Are What We Assimilate

A healthy digestive system is essential to good health. This system is so important to the health of our body as a whole that it has its own nervous system that can function independent of input from our central nervous system. Poor digestion is one of the most important factors that contributes to chronic health conditions. Good nutrition is critical to the healthy functioning of all of our cells, tissues and organs. However, no matter how good our diet, our body can still be malnourished if we are not able to efficiently digest and absorb the nutrients from our food. This involves a complex interplay between our digestive system and the gut microbiome. A healthy and diverse gut ecology is very important, but a healthy population of microorganisms is not possible if our digestive system is out of balance — no matter how many probiotics we supplement. In this workshop, we will explore the factors that support and stress out our digestive system and the essentials of using digestive herbs. We will also see and discuss some of the beneficial digestive herbs that are growing in the area.