Duration: Meets one weekend per month for 10 months.
Dates: Begins November 16-17, 2019. View all dates and schedule for the upcoming Fall 2019 course
View the current Spring Ethnobotany Immersion Course calendar (already in progress)
Cost: $2000 with a deposit of $250. There are only 12 spots available in this class.
Instructors: Gabe Garms with guest instructors Georgieann Lilgreen, Saide Dupar and Nigel Thomas

The Ethnobotany Immersion Course has been a dream of ours for years now and we couldn't be more excited to begin our eighth class here at Raven's Roots. Our passion for plants, harvesting ethics, perennial food crops, utilitarian plant uses and natural medicines specifically, have driven us to spend countless hours in the field studying both Washington's native and naturalized plants and trees. Not just where to find them but how to mimic the natural systems which they grow in so they can be cultivated successfully in a home-scale permaculture system. 

Permaculture and ethnobotany have typically been topics taught separately from one another at most schools. In this course however, we'll not only cover them both extensively, but we'll do so through the lens of a naturalist. Over the course of the 10 months, we'll study plants at every stage of their growth cycle and how they interact with all of the other elements in the ecosystem around them (the soils/soil life, invertebrates, wildlife etc).  We'll take all of the this knowledge and mimic these natural systems to build our own sustainable, closed loop, food/medicinal/wildlife attracting systems. We'll learn how to make plant based medicines, personal care products, baskets, primitive tools and how to preserve and store all of our food/medicine once it's been harvested. By using microclimates, proper soil building techniques and medicinal/food guilds effectively, we believe that a large number of the plants that we use for food and medicine can be grown right in our own backyards. Medicinal guilds, food forests and soil building have been one of our primary permaculture focuses over the last five years and we plan to share everything that we've learned with you in the course. 

We’ve also built up a permaculture nursery with over 80 species of medicinal and perennial vegetable plants that overwinter really well here in the Pacific Northwest. As part of the tuition, you’ll get one or two of every plant that we have available in the nursery. The plants alone have a value of close to $500 and practically none of them are sold in nurseries in the area.

While some of you may only be interested in pursuing ethnobotany as a hobby, we understand that many of you are looking to transition into some sort of career involving it.  This is why we also want to ensure that you're transition from the immersion course into some sort of career or revenue stream is a relatively smooth one. We'll allow you to sell your plant based products in our online store, work in our medicinal permaculture nursery, sell our/your goods at events that we attend such as craft shows and farmer's markets and even help teach short courses and lead naturalist walks within the school. Don't get us wrong, it's not about the money. But we've seen too many people want to continue to walk the path of the naturalist after taking a class, but not be able to because of financial constraints. While we can't promise that you'll be able to fully support yourself financially after taking this course, we'll do our best to put you on the right path. Before Gabe began his journey as a naturalist, he owned a business specializing in finding people jobs so this is an area that he has a lot of experience in.

After being accepted for the immersion course, we will schedule a personal consultation with you to make sure that you're getting everything that you want and more out of the course. There aren't any pre-requisites and anyone can sign up. There will be at least 2 of the instructors at every class so that we can better accommodate students at different skill levels (so don't worry if you're either a beginner or someone who has some experience, because we cater to both). Class size will be capped at 12 this year so that you'll receive plenty of individual instruction. 

Here are some of the topics that will be covered:

  • Harvest schedule: We'll actually go out in the field together throughout the 10 months and harvest the plants in the schedule together and make medicines and teas.

  • Plant ID: Not only will we talk about identification during every part of the course, we'll also discuss guilds and relationships between certain plants and species which share their habitat.

  • Soils and Soil Microbiology. Microscope workshop and how to proper analyze the biology in the soil.

  • Composting systems and compost teas. We'll actually build piles from scratch and make and apply the compost teas on our farm.

  • Natural medicine making. You'll build your own comprehensive natural medicine cabinet. By the time you finish the course, you'll not only have all the medicine, but know how to use it correctly.

  • Food Preservation: Fermentations and probiotics, teas, cooking herbs, drying.

  • Plant based personal care products (soaps, hair rinses, lotions, deodorants, toothpastes, herbal mouthwashes etc.)

  • Growing your own medicinals and edibles in a permaculture environment. Students will be allowed to create their own guilds on the farm and keep the harvest that they grow. Think of it as a p-patch. There are many functional guilds already established on the farm that students can study and make enhancements to.

  • Wildlife attracting plant communities

  • Perennial vegetables. We are currently growing many of the perennial vegetables from Eric Toensmeier's book called Perennial Vegetables on our farm. We'll actually get to cook with them and send you home with some to propagate yourself at home.

  • Plant propagation (grafting, hardwood/softwood cuttings, germinating from seed, transplanting, division, layering etc.)

  • Pruning and orchard maintenance

  • Season extension techniques (cold frames, greenhouse contruction/maintenance, raised beds, row covers etc.)

  • Making your own menstruums and essential oils for medicine making

  • Legal barriers and how to get around them to work in this field. Types of work.

  • Medicinal and edible mushrooms. We'll show you how we grow them on the farm and you'll go home with inoculated logs.

  • Utilitarian uses of native and naturalized plants: fibers, dyes, baskets, cordage and primitive tools (fish hooks, burn bowls, utensils, cooking racks etc.)

  • Human physiology (enough to make you dangerous) and herbalist terminologies.

  • Rocket and biochar stove building

View the detailed Fall Ethnobotany course schedule and calendar here. 

Essentially, our goal is to give students a value significantly more than what they paid for in tuition. It's the least that we can do and we're intent on doing it.

Apply by clicking the button below and we will contact you with 48 hours via phone or email. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us directly at info@ravensroots.com. Hope to see you in November!

Here are some pictures from the last 7 Immersion Courses: