Herb walks can be informative, fun even. Introduces you to interesting, wild, beautiful plants.
And if you take a walk by yourself, sure you might learn a thing or two by looking at plant names on signs, peruse some of the interpretive signs, and just to be out in the fragrant grounds is satisfying enough.
But attendees of the Natural Products Expo West 2019 Herb Walk got much more than all that.
The Fullerton Arboretum was the site of the annual Expo West Herb Walk, organized by the trio of the American Herbal Products Association, the American Botanical Council and the American Herbal Pharmacopoia. Four herbalists extraordinaire led the walk, and the level of education gave everyone a lot to chew on.
Even more to chew on was things like miner's lettuce, which the herbalists passed around to nibble on.
But better than even hearing about medicinal benefits of various plants was the stories. The art of storytelling is what made the day one to savor—and remember.
The busload of attendees split into two groups. One was led by David Winston and Feather Jones, the other by Roy Upton and Erin Smith.
Winston has been a practiting herbalist for nearly 50 years, a published author, dean of the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies, and owns his own supplements brand, Herbalist & Alchemist.
Jones has been teaching about herbs for 30 years, with a specialized background in Native American (Mandan) tribal teachings. She is also an educator at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Upton is executive director and editor of the American Herbal Pharmacopoia, which produces authoritative monographs on a range of plants, telling everything from health benefits to testing protocols, phamacology and history of use. He is also director of the Planetary Herbals supplements brand.
Smith is a clinical herbalist and ethnobotanist for some 30 years, and oversees education and sustainability at WishGarden Herbs in Colorado, which is most famous for its Kick Ass Immune tinctures.
Stories from Upton really brought home the message of the power of the plant queendom. He told one story of being up at night after midnight in his underwear putting together an emergency catnip tea for a neighbor's ailing child. And while it had everyone laughing, it also reminded people that plants have co-evolved with humans on this planet, and we both need each other.
That's community building on a far larger scale than any of the attendees cared to consider at the outset. And—despite the intermittent rain throughout the day—made for one very memorable day.