Lauren came to utilize, study and practice Herbalism by way of “burn-out”, and her needs for better health and self-care strategies. Through her initial studies apprenticing at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine and clinical internship at the Ithaca Free Clinic, Lauren found passion and purpose: to hold space for those seeking to heal, needing support and wanting to be heard; to be a medicine maker; to connect people with plants and the power within themselves to transform and feel better; to do so with social justice values and integrity. After studying from various teachers, in 2010, Lauren founded her business, Good Fight Herb Co. Ever since, she’s been working to find more ways to support her self and her community, plant more medicine, continue her education and facilitate conversations on Health Justice issues so that Herbalism always stays accessible to all.
Mandana is an Herbalist, educator, forager, gardener, activist, and parent. Growing up in a traditional Persian household is where her love of plants was first cultivated. She first learned about herbs and wild food for self-care, ritual, and food as a young girl, using the same herbs her grandmothers used before her. At 18, she began hitch-hiking around the country and found through experience how essential plants were in supporting her everyday needs, whether for first-aid, shelter, fire, or food. This sparked a desire in her to forge a path in herbalism and for over a decade she has gleaned experience from immersing herself in building relationships with the plant world. Today, Mandana lives in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains; in the same valley she was raised. Her work is centered on facilitating learning around herbalism, wild food, and earth based skills and crafts. As a woman of color, she is passionate about maintaining the many voices, stories, rituals, and histories of POC, particularly around health, healing and food.
With love and gratitude to Wild Gather's founding members:
Nicole is a chef, herbalist, and educator. She credits growing up in a Sicilian family, and their relationship to food, for her own love and passion for food as medicine. She grew up full of mulberries, wild dandelion leaves and onion. This love and passion informs and permeates her practice across fields: over the past twenty years, Nicole's work has linked food, wellness, service and education in various collaborations, organizations, and in her own private practice. She is a co-founder and the Director of Education of Kite’s Nest, an alternative learning center for young people in Hudson, NY. She is also the Culinary Arts Director of the Alimentary Kitchen in Hudson, where she facilitates workshops and experiences that offer a supportive environment for children and teenagers to pursue and develop a relationship to herbalism, wellness, self care, food access and food justice. Across her work -- in her herbalism practice, in the kitchen, or in the classroom -- Nicole creates spaces that foster critical inquiry and systems-thinking, connection to plants and to the natural world, and that speak to the intersections between political, personal, and ecological well-being.
Claudia has spent most of her life learning from and about plants in different ways. At an early age she began to develop in equal measures a love, respect and wonder for the natural world and the ever changing identities of humans in their relation to it. She returned to the Hudson Valley at the start of 2013 to her family home in Milan, NY to grow medicinal herbs on a small scale (The Herbal Acre), with a vision to provide economically accessible herbal learning opportunities as well as fresh medicinal plants to the community. Along the way she also cultivated a fruitful relationship with the vibrant local food economy, providing up to six local restaurants with fresh, foraged and organically grown herbs, edible flowers and produce. As a locally practicing professional in the world of transformative conflict resolution, Claudia enjoys exploring the ways in which the cultivation of intimacy and reciprocity with plants can offer lessons in how to mindfully approach human relationships and interact with the environments in which we live. Her practice and use of herbal medicine reflects an evolving exchange between herself and spirit and it is from within the dynamism of this relationship that she offers knowledge and tools for living life from the heart. As a contributor to local social justice efforts, how to make these therapeutic opportunities truly accessible remains part of a consistent interrogation of her work and the production of her lifestyle.