Herbin' in the Kootenays: Botanicals in everyday life

It's no secret that I love herbs.
Because of this nerdy-ness, I always seek out herb gatherings, conferences, workshops-- anything to continue learning about all that herbs have to offer.

This past weekend I went to Kootenay Herb Conference in scenic Creston, BC. What a setting to learn about herbs! A beautiful creek nearby, giant cedars sheltering tents, and meadows of wild flowers and medicinal "weeds". 
The beauty didn't stop with the outdoors; no detail was overlooked. Wild flowers adorned the space, from bouquets on the table, to foraging baskets greeting you at the door. The love of herbs was palpable, and it was comforting to talk the language of plants with like-minded individuals.

The theme of this year's conference was Herbs: Part of Everyday Life. Many of the talks focused on food as medicine and how we can incorporate medicinal herbs as part of nutrition. Amongst other topics, we learned about culinary herbalism, fermentation, and the power of "black" or anthocyanin-rich food.
Not only did the talks inspire me, but herbs accented every provided meal- calendula & nasturtium heads in salads, lavender shortbread, borage flowers topping desserts, hyssop flatbread, sauces and dressings with herbal infused oils-- heaven! 
My oh my, my food since returning home is longing to be adorned with edible flowers and infused with botanical medicine. Future posts coming from this inspiration!

We also explored the energetics of plants-- something I feel like I haven't had the opportunity to do much of in my education. We touched, tasted, smelled and experienced what the herb needed to tell us.
As practitioners, not only are we mindful of the constituents and actions indicated for our patient, but must choose herbs and formulate based on the constitution and very nature of the individual we're treating.
Sharing this experience with other herb lovers was nothing short of magical.

  Lotus corniculatus  (Bird's foot trefoil) accenting the road. Such a stunning flower!

Lotus corniculatus (Bird's foot trefoil) accenting the road. Such a stunning flower!

If you're at all passionate about botanical medicine I urge you attend herbal conferences. I aim to do one larger conference or course a year to feed my knowledge and keep my passion for herbs strong.
A few tips to maximize your investment or help you choose conferences:

  • Volunteer. If the conference has the option to volunteer, this is not only a great way to save money but to give back to the conference. Volunteering also gave me the unique experience of connecting with other volunteers and supporting the speakers.
  • Ask if they have a student discount. If you're a student and money is tight, don't let this be the main detraction for your attendance. Contact registration and see if they offer a student discount. This is also incentive as a student to attend as many conference as you can!
  • Connect. Chat with the speakers and conference attendees. You learn so much in these interactions and create a network for future contacts. I'm grateful to have gained a couple of opportunities for mentorship from this past conference.
  • Pick conferences near and far! I can't think of a better excuse for a vacation. The conference drew me to the Kootenays an area that I typically drive through rather than stopping and exploring. Vacations can be planned around the conference, or the conference itself can be your "mini-vacay".
    I did a course on Vancouver Island last year, again which was the perfect excuse to enjoy the island. I also attended a herbal gathering in Alberta where I will return after completion of my schooling. It was great to get back home and meet herbalists and clinicians that I will in the near future work alongside. 
  • Be a tad picky. While I want to go to every herbal gathering and opportunity, I know I have to be realistic with my bank account and also my time. Check ahead if there's a theme to the conference or speakers you're drawn to and want to learn from. This helps me choose between courses and conferences and divvy up my investment.
  • Don't feel like you have to be an expert. Conferences aren't just for practitioners. Even if you feel like you're over your head, you'll come away learning something. You can always look back on those notes as you continue to learn. The inspiration of what's out there and what's untapped in your knowledge can be inspiring and motivating.
 Herb Walk discussing historical & medicinal uses.

Herb Walk discussing historical & medicinal uses.

The Kootenay Herb Conference was exactly what I needed to reconnect infusing botanical medicine into my everyday life, invigorate my love for herbs, remain humble with my knowledge and use of plants, and to be present and "listen" to what the plants have to teach.

Been to any great herbal courses or conferences lately? What's your favourite thing to learn about botanical medicine?
Drop me a line in the comment section below or tag me on instagram with #herbinfusedlife.

Yours in perpetual herb nerdy-ness,

 ♥ B.