2016 Teachers

Below is our roster of teachers from last year’s (2016) Heartwood Gathering:

Marianne Beacon

Marianne Beacon is a Registered Professional Herbalist, Advanced Bowen Therapist, Reiki Master and teacher. She has been training in the healing arts since 1994 and has a Diploma in Clinical Herbal Medicine, as well as over 2000 apprenticeship hours alongside traditional and professional herbalists and midwives. Her focus is a Western Herbalist approach using whole plant medicine and flower essences. Marianne runs a multi-disciplinary clinic and apothecary in Peterborough, Ontario. Marianne brings a heart-centered approach to her work and teaching and has many years of wild-crafting, production and clinical experience from which to draw. With multiple modalities available to her, Marianne offers the breadth and depth of her experience and knowledge to her clients and students in a co-creative and caring atmosphere.


Emily Bennett, ND
Emily is a licensed naturopathic doctor (BDDT-N), birth doula and owner of Inland Island Clinic & Dispensary in Hamilton, Ontario, where she offers community acupuncture, sliding scale naturopathy, and hawks botanicals to medicinal herb lovers. Emily’s love affair with the plant world began long before she found naturopathy, and she continues to love id’ing, wild-crafting, tasting, and just being out in the woods as much as possible. Emily is a graduate of McGill University (2008), the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (2014), and is currently enrolled in the 400-hour “Herbal Medicine for Women” course taught by herbalist, midwife, and medical doctor, Aviva Romm.

Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera
Lorenna is founder of Shamanu: Earth Wisdom Teachings, (est. 1989), a grandmother and daughter of the Earth. Lorenna has followed her own wild heart to grow Earth centered training pathways. Weaving enchanted stories and wise council, Lorenna support us at this time of global crisis/opportunity, to return, emboldened to Earth and to our own human wildness.

For over 45 years Lorenna has mentored ‘change makers’ from all walks of life. Her teachings help us reclaim our birthright as ecological beings, and with it an Earth-honouring vision that is centered in a practical spirituality.
Lorenna is the co-director with her husband Shantree of The Living Centre (est.1983). She is a Permaculture Educator, Ayurvedic Living Nutrition Educator and Sevenfold Path of Peace coach with a specialty in evolutionary regeneration at the personal, ecological and spiritual levels.

A study into the mysteries of life and how to invoke the primal elements of nature have shown her that human and Nature are one force, interconnected in all ways. She believes that everything we need to know about how to live extraordinary lives we can find the answers to in Nature.

Alexis Burnett
Alexis Burnett is a Naturalist, Tracker, Wilderness Skills Practitioner and Canoe Guide from Orangeville, ON.   Today he resides in the Owen Sound area, spending his days tracking, wild- crafting and running his Outdoor School and Wilderness Canoe Tripping company, Earth Tracks. Alexis is lead guide for the wilderness canoe trips and head instructor for all the programs and classes.  Along with his wife Bobbi and daughter Violet, they also run a small scale  herb farm (Rebel Roots Herb Farm) which specializes in organically grown and ethically wild crafted herbs.

Alexis has spent significant time learning  wilderness survival/ bushcraft, tracking, and herbal studies from people and organizations such as Tom Brown Jr., Jon Young, renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, Wild Rose College  and many others.   He has been practicing wilderness skills, pursuing naturalist/tracking studies and guiding canoe trips for over 15 years.   Alexis teaches classes both for Earth Tracks as well as through various organizations, for people of all ages.  Some of these workshops have focused on such topics as Wilderness Survival/Bushcraft, Wildlife Tracking, Wild Crafting and Foraging, Herbal Studies, Naturalist Skills and Nature Connection Programming for children and adults.  Recently he has started the Earth Tracks Tracking and Nature Club located in Grey County and previously ran the Orangeville Tracking and Nature club for seven years.

Alexis is committed to mentoring and teaching others  skills that help re-connect us to the natural world in an ancient and powerful way. By learning from nature through immersion and direct experience we begin to see  the ‘inter- relatedness’ of all things in the natural world. And begin to understand the important role that we all can play in protecting and preserving the Earth for future generations.

Christine Dennis RH, MNIMH, MSc. (Herb Med.)
Christine has a Master of Science degree from the University of Wales (MSc.) in the UK. This is the highest herbal medicine qualifications available in the world. She is one of only a small handful of people in all of North America with this specific level of herbal medicine training and education. Christine is the past president and current Professional Member of the Ontario Herbalists Association (RH) as well as a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) in England and is a graduate of the Dominion Herbal College Clinical Program.

Christine considers herself to be an eclectic herbalist having had a balance of bio-medical, traditional and energetic herbal medicine training as well as a great deal of hands on experience in the field.  Christine was the managing editor for the Canadian Journal of Herbalism (CJH) in addition to writing the regular kids column—Growing Kids the Natural Way.  Living on an organic farm allows Christine the perfect opportunity for her home based office, and giving herbal walks and talks as well as at other locations around southern Ontario.

Aku Richter
Aku is a member of the Ewe tribe of West Africa from the village of Dagbamete, in the Volta Region of Ghana. The daughter of a village priest who is also a prominent traditional psychic herbalist, Aku moved to Canada to join her husband, Conrad Richter of Richters Herbs, in 1996. She was a member of Kekeli, an African traditional drum and dance ensemble based in Toronto. She is the greenhouse manager of Richters Herbs in Goodwood where she lives with her husband and three children. In 2013, Aku was initiated as Queen Mother of her village in Ghana by the elders in an elaborate ceremony.

Richard DeSylva   RH  DNM
Richard is the owner of The Herb Works and has been a practicing herbalist  since 1977. He is a founding member of the Ontario Herbalist Association (OHA) and of the national Council: the Canadian Council of Herbalists Association (CCHA), and currently sits on both Boards. A long time lobbyist, he has actively sought to protect both the practice of herbalism, and the public’s right to have access and use herbs to maintain their health.

Richard has also  lectured both provincially & (inter)nationally on the art & science of herbal medicine. In addition, he writes for a number of magazines, and has taught various courses on botanic medicine – which looks upon herbs as very specialized foods for the cells of the body.

Mai Duong
Mai brings her vast experience of over 20 years as an entrepreneur, professional dancer and business owner to her role as a Plant Spirit Medicine Healer.

Mai became interested in Plant Spirit Medicine due to her own illness.  She also recognized that this medicine was not available in Toronto, and persuaded her teacher, Eliot Cowan, to teach the first Canadian PSM class. Since her studies of this medicine, Mai has uncovered a deep connection to the plants and the natural world. Mai graduated from the Plant Spirit Medicine training, in 2005, and is inducted as a Lay Spiritual Healer in the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing.

With a commitment to serve, Mai has furthered her growth and learning by being an initiated Fire Keeper in the Sacred Fire Community.

There has been many teachings and the blessings that this medicine has brought into her life. Mai is so thankful to the plant spirits and the mysterious ways that Plant Spirit Medicine has weaved into hers and the lives of her clients.

Luke Eckstein
Luke is a naturally curious person who likes to integrate his love of nature with his love of science and is always trying to better appreciate and understand the natural world.  He is a Naturalist, an outdoor educator, a graduate of and instructor for the Ontario Master Naturalist program, instructor with Canadian Bushcraft, and a graduate of the Honours Biology program at University of Waterloo specializing in molecular biology and microbiology.  He is currently studying Medical Laboratory Science at The Michener Institute as well as providing guided hikes and workshops on foraging wild edible plants and mushrooms throughout much of Southern Ontario.  He enjoys studying the evolution of life on Earth and telling imaginative stories to try to capture what we know and the mystery of what we don’t know to help connect people with the shared and unique deep history of living things.

Cory Eichman
Cory began farming Biodynamically in 1992.  After five years working on other farms, he co-founded the Saugeen River CSA, an 80 acre draft horse powered farm, in Durham, Ontario.  The mixed farm grows vegetables, flowers, herbs, and soft fruit for CSA members and the Owen Sound farmer’s market.  He has been training apprentices since 1998 and teaches theoretical and practical aspects of Biodynamics through courses and workshops on his farm.  He is a co-founder of the North American Biodynamic Apprentice Program, and is currently on the North American Biodynamic Association Education Leadership Team.   http://www.saugeenrivercsa.com/

Monika Ghent
Monika is a Western Traditional Herbalist and Plant Spirit Medicine Healer with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Monika was blessed with the opportunity of growing up in the country where her idea of a good time was to spend entire days in nature observing, listening, being. In her 20’s she heard the call of the plant people and began the study of herbal medicine. She started her professional practiced as a Western Traditional Herbalist in 1997.  She is an advocate of being in respectful and humble relationship with the earth and all the beings that inhabit her, and so all the herbs she uses in her practice she either ethically wild harvests herself or are grown organically.

Monika has a school of herbalism (Living Earth School of Herbalism) with her husband, Michael Vertolli, which offers general interest workshops and online classes, and certificate and diploma programs in Western herbalism and related fields of study. As a healer, Monika has most desired to help people come to know the beauty of their uniqueness and live in their truth to its fullest expression in health and wholeness; herbal medicine and Plant Spirit Medicine has helped her fulfill this goal

Chris Gilmour
Chris is a professional outdoor educator, wilderness guide and emergency management planner. He lives on a modern day permaculture homestead up in Muskoka where he and his wife Laura grow organic food, medicinal herbs and practice forest gardening. He has 10+ years of experience helping people of all ages deepen their knowledge of the natural world through experiential education and wilderness & urban survival training.  Chris is passionate about wildlife tracking, herbal medicine, bow making,  ancient wilderness living skills and is a devout student of the natural world. Chris is also an instructor with Sticks & Stones Wilderness School and helped bring the Art of Mentoring and Headwaters Gathering to Ontario. He is the director of p.i.n.e. Muskoka overseeing Wild Things & Red Wolf Camp and is the lead mentor for our Wild Deer program offered for outdoor educators and adults interested in deepening their knowledge of, and connection to the natural world.

Laura Gilmour 
Laura is a community herbalist, permaculture designer, and ecologist living near Dwight, Ontario. Her feral rural upbringing allowed her to develop a natural curiosity and passion for nature from a young age. Laura formally studied ecology, and later went on to pursue sustainable living by working on several Permaculture farms and with herbalists on the west coast. Laura has a passion for traditional living skills and has spent years learning primitive arts such as basket making, traditional hide tanning, and friction fire making. She is also a strong naturalist with several years’ experience as an ecological consultant. For over 14 years she has been learning how to prepare wild foods, make her own medicines and learning how to share this with others to empower them in living more sustainable lives.

Laura is a guest instructor with a number of wilderness skills schools, and organizations. She lives on Wild Spirit Permaculture Homestead located near Dwight in northeast Muskoka. Here Laura lives with her husband and dog Tucker, they grow vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, keep bees and chickens. Laura also runs Wild Muskoka Botanicals, which produces artisan wild foods and herbal products. It exists to reconnect people with the natural world and to promote health and wellness through incorporating wild plants and traditional herbal medicines back into people’s modern lives.

Camille Glodeck
Camille is a lover of wild plants, a wildcrafter, a wilderness skills instructor and nature connection mentor as well as a homeschooling mom from Northern Ontario.  Her biggest passion is helping people reconnect to themselves, each other and the natural world through the ancestral skills passed down through various lineages.  You can find her puttering in the garden or the kitchen; playing with cordage, fire and plant fibres,  or even strumming on her ukulele if she isn’t teaching. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/ancestralskillsinitiative

Diane Kent
Diane is a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in the UK, and a professional member of the Ontario Herbalists Association (OHA). She attained her diploma through the Dominion Herbal College of Vancouver, and has been actively involved in the complementary health care field since 1996, serving as president of the OHA for 10 years. She is a past faculty member of The Institute of Holistic Nutrition, Mohawk College, and The Institute of Traditional Medicine. Diane operates a clinic in Etobicoke, and now teaches her own two year diploma program designed to train the professional herbalists of the future.

Shantree Kacera
Shantree is a Permaculture Educator, Ayurvedic Live-Food Nutritionist, Therapeutic & Shamanic Herbalist, Constitutional Ecological Consultant & Forest Garden Practitioner with 40 years experience in the Organic Natural Healing Arts. He is an expert on the medicinal and nutritional properties of herbs and trees of Carolinian Canada. His primary focus these days are on research, demonstration and education.

He is the founder and co-director of The Living Centre (1983), and Living Arts Institute. Shantree received his doctorate in Nutritional Medicine and Herbalism in the 70’s. Since then he has been exploring the effect of local foods and herbs on one’s physical, mental and emotional health. His passion and study has lead him to explore the benefits of a high energy Ayurvedic live-food approach to nutrition. He has had the honour to teach, counsel and empower thousands of individuals on their health and educational journey. Shantree has been exploring the nutritional and ecological benefits of a live-food approach for over three decades.

Carmen Lynde
Carmen Lynde is a Clinical Herbal Therapist (CHT), a Graduate of Dominion Herbal College where she studied the body sciences: anatomy, physiology, pathology, as well as the plant sciences: botany, materia medica and application of plant medicine.
Carmen is enrolled at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition to deepen her knowledge of plant medicine and continue to apply nutrition and food as medicine. She is also enrolled in Continuing Ed. Endocrinology to study hormones and glands and how they’re affected in modern day. She believes it is vital for practitioners to continuously learn as they work in the field, offering evidence-based medicine and current information in this exciting, ever changing industry.
Carmen is Faculty at the Institute of Traditional Medicine where she teaches Clinic, Materia Medica and Therapeutics. She is the Medicinal Herb Consultant at Richter’s Herbs. Carmen is a Professional Member and Registered Herbalist of the Ontario Herbalist Association (RH). She is also studying Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow Yoga with a Certified Mysore teacher. Carmen is Creator of Vervain, a line of organic plant-based skincare. She believes what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in our bodies. All products are made with raw, unprocessed, natural ingredients borrowed from nature.
Carmen has been studying and practicing Herbal Medicine for over a decade and applies her biomedical understanding of the body, her experience with plants as medicine and her own spiritual grounding to share with individuals who are ready to be proactive with their health, achieve optimal results and make lasting change.

Steven Martyn

Steven Martyn, M.A. (traditional plant use), B.F.A. honours.
Artist, farmer, wildcrafter, builder, teacher, writer, visionary. Steven has more than thirty years experience living co-creatively with the Earth practicing traditional living skills of growing food, building and healing. Steven created “Livingstone & Greenbloom” (Toronto’s first “green” landscaping company 1989); and the Algonquin Tea’s (North America’s first bioregional tea company 1996). He has given talks and run workshops internationally for more than twenty years and has taught at Algonquin college since 2000.

Jackie McMillan, BES, Asperger’s

Hi, I’m an international and wild foods enthusiast.  When I’m not exploring new ingredient sources, finding new recipes, preserving foods, entertaining friends, teaching food workshops, or trying culinary experiments, I am  either working as a movement therapist, showing people how to find ease and comfort in their normal daily activities, spending time outdoors, or supporting parents, educators, autism spectrum adults, and professionals in achieving autism turnarounds and thriving with autism.  I can be reached at <jackiethrives@gmail.com>, or discovered at http://ThriveWithAutism.ca.

 Zach Owen
Zach was born in Toronto, Ontario. At a young age, he was inspired by his parents who owned a health food store in Toronto. This inspired his first interests in health and wellness. When he was nine years old, his family who knew of his love for nature, decided to move to Port Hope where natural surroundings were more abundant.While in high school he worked at a local herbal store which later resulted in an apprenticeship with a herbalist at a medicinal herb farm and distribution company. Feeling that he had to learn more about the natural world, he chose go to Sir Sanford Fleming College where he studied Ecosystem Management. There, he made the connection between our external and internal environments and began to understand how one affected the other.

Zach worked and also apprenticed in the natural resource and environmental field for 5 years. During this time he explored Chinese Medicine to help his own well-being. He experienced very favorable results and found he shared the Oriental perspective regarding the human body as a living ecosystem. The concepts regarding the cycles of nature are clearly demonstrated in the philosophies of the ancient Chinese which date back thousands of years. The connection with these concepts, as well as the results of their application, inspired Zach to pursue a new education which would enable him to help people improve their lives, health and well being from a truly holistic perspective.

Zach has an Acupuncture practice in Cobourg, Ontario where he incorporates traditional Chinese as well as western healing modalities. He lives in Alderville First Nation with his Partner Showna, where they love to watch the Black Oak and Wild Rice grow.

Travis Philp
Travis has over 10 years experience practicing permaculture, and 8 years of experience as a professional farmer and wildcrafter. He has two diplomas received at Fleming College in Lindsay Ontario; Environmental Technician and Ecosystems Management Technician. Travis received his Permaculture Design Certificate in 2011 from The Living Centre, near London Ontario. He is a founding partner of Greenshire Eco Farms; an intentional community in the Kawartha Lakes region, where he created and managed their permaculture gardens. In 2014 moved to Peterborough to work as a coordinator for the Trent University Vegetable gardens. He currently resides in Peterborough, where he runs his own urban farming and
wildcrafting business.

John Redden
John is a Western Medical Herbalist with an eclectic background. He has over thirty years experience growing and wild crafting herbs, manufacturing remedies and clinical practice. As a member and former vice-president of the Ontario Herbalists Association, he co-founded “A Celebration of Herbs”, Toronto’s largest herbal event. For six years, John served as the editor of the Canadian Journal of Herbalism, the national herbal medical journal for professional herbalists and interested lay enthusiasts. He is a hands-on teacher of numerous aspects of holistic herbal medicine and teaches popular and advanced classes in his workshop / laboratory and at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. John is a member of the professional advisory board for the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association and a founding author of the Canadian General Standards Board on Organic Agriculture co-authoring Canada’s laws on organic farming and manufacturing.  John’s studies in the U.S., Britain, and Canada have culminated in the founding of Viriditas Herbal Products, whose clients include professional herbalists, naturopaths, and medical doctors.  Clinical consultations for patients are available at his office in Toronto.  John also enjoys collaborating with NDs to produce patient specific remedies extemporaneously.  Post-graduate herbal studies in Scotland and Spain along with naturopathic continuing education with Dr. Neal McKinney ND have helped John become effective in treating patients with complex medical conditions including cancer.

In the late 1970’s John spent about a year at Findhorn in Forres, Morayshire, Scotland. It was here that he began an ongoing dialogue with the life-beings and light-beings of creation.  The Vis was no longer a theoretical “Gaia hypothesis” but became a reality.

The business name “Viriditas” comes from a Medieval Latin compound word that loosely translates as “The Power of Green.”  Hildegard von Bingen coined the term to describe the life-force (Vis), which not only heals like green herbs, but also directs, balances and harmonizes all living things. Viriditas is a cosmic force. Viriditas Herbal Products manufactures herbal tinctures and salves that respectfully transmit the healing power of green from the plants of the Earth to the user.

John has personal interests in the history of science especially medicine, gardening, Gregorian chant and wild crafting in nature.  He has been studying and practicing meditation for over forty years and has been a vegetarian for over thirty-five years.