By Andrew Pengelly
This recent field school was a campout experience for a group of attendees including herbalists, aromatherapists, students and plant enthusiasts. The overall focus was on plant medicine making, distillation including Leptospermum petersonii growing on the farm, and blending essential oils and hydrosols with herbal medicines into preparations for clinical and home use. Other features included plant and lichen walks, vegetation surveys and a herbarium collection display. Denis Stewart gave a talk on uses of medicinal honey with a live beekeeping demonstration.
Herbal field schools are occasional weekend events held mainly in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. The field school concept was originated by Andrew Pengelly and Rob Santich in the mid-1990s, with the objective of providing an alternative, hands-on teaching approach to students and practitioners of herbal medicine. This is grass-roots herbalism, where we focus on medicine making, distillation of native species, field botany, awareness of medicines from Australian plants and selected introduced weed species. Activities are conducted out of doors, and attendees are encouraged to tune in to the natural surroundings and develop an awareness of the local ecosystems. Most events are campouts which keeps attendance costs in check. Check The Hunter Valley Field School tab for details of the next event.
For me (Andrew) field schools are a way of life whether it be through education, medicine making, distillation or field botany. Check out the link to some of my presentations of Australian aromatic plants, their therapeutic applications and aromatic chemistry, along with reports from my research on rosemary and hop bush. Hopefully you will find other useful information here and I’ll endeavour to add more content of interest to grass root herbalists and field botanists, and keep in touch with you via a regular blog.
Like all of you I have some pet interests that are completely off topic. Since my late teens I have been a huge fan of jazz and blues music, and recently I have had an urge to review some of this music and share it with anyone who might be interested. If so check out “In the groove” not to be confused with the “Grove” in the photo above, and I promise to add video links to bring the music alive.