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Using Your Local Wild Plants for Food and Medicine with Annie McCleary
Susun Weed interviews herbalist and teacher
Annie McCleary, M.A., is the director of Wisdom of the Herbs School in Woodbury Vermont, offering nature-based programs to adults, focusing on local wild edible and medicinal plants, healthy life-style and sustainable living skills.
She is a member of the Initiating Team of Transition Town Montpelier, promoting resilient, relocalized communities to meet the challenges and opportunities of peak oil and climate change. Annie is a teacher, a former herb-grower, and a wild food enthusiast.
After teaching workshops and herb classes out of her home for almost twenty years, Annie founded Wisdom of the Herbs School in 2003, programs embracing the local wild plants, holistic health, and sustainable living skills, valuable tools for living on the Earth in these changing times. Participants learn through herb walks and nature adventures, communion with Nature, hands-on wild harvesting and preparation of wild edibles and herbal home remedies, made with intention and gratitude.
These programs offer perspectives on healthy life-style practices, ecology, natural history, and the timelessness of communion between Nature and self. Annie's teachings focus on identification and preparation of local wild edibles, building relationship with plant spirits, herbal home remedies, and food as first medicine.
In 1989, Annie founded Purple Coneflower Herbals, and supplied handcrafted herbal extracts to local health food stores and coops for 15 years before turning the business over to a student. As an advocate for the cultivation of threatened native medicinals, she organically grew thousands of Echinacea purpurea, commonly known as Purple Coneflower.
Her fields of Echinacea in glorious bloom attracted hundreds of herb students, growers and visitors, and earned her the nickname "Echinacea Annie". Annie was one of the first growers in Vermont to cultivate organic Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), responding to the over-harvest of Goldenseal in the wild. She successfully cultivated this valued native medicinal under shade cloth, replicating Goldenseal's natural woodlands habitat.
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