Northeast School of Botanical Medicine Field Trips

Field trips, that is, botanical adventures to places far from the school house are a big part of the 3-day-weekly program. Partly this was inspired by the journey’s we went on in Michael Moore’s Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, and my own desire to see and introduce students to plants far and wide.

Field Trips tend to follow a pattern. The first field trip is to the Rainbow Gathering, which is held in a National Forest somewhere different each year in the continental United States (more on the Rainbow Gathering below). After the Rainbow Gathering, we go on a 4 day field trip somewhere nearby. These are the more distant field trips. Then there are two regularly scheduled field trips. The first is in August, when we usually go to the Adirondacks. The past few years we have stayed in a pair of older cabins outside of Lowville. The next field trip is in September in  Appalachia, in a beautiful area in Southern Ohio (south of Athens) where we stay with Paul Strauss who has homesteaded and tended hundreds of gorgeous acres of diverse and less-spoiled Appalachian woodlands for 40 years. We also regularly visit local ecosystems around Ithaca going to swamps, bogs, woodlands, fields and occasional parking lot.

Past Field Trips have been to Appalachia, Rocky Mountains, Arizona, Adirondacks, Ozarks, Alleghenies, and other bioregions.

  • Field Trip Objectives:
    Plant identification, wildcrafting, botanical medicine preparation and learning new enviornments are probably the major aspects of these adventures. As with most field trips, plant identification books are brought along to learn the technical aspects of plant identification.
  • Rules: as we will be together a lot on these trips, students are expected to behave in a way that allows us all to get along. This includes punctuality and helping share car costs with whomever you are traveling with.
  • Expenses: in each of the field trips students are required to cover their own expenses. This includes transportation cost (students generally carpool), food, tools, medicine-making supplies, and other costs. During the second two field trips (Adirondacks and Southern Ohio) I hire cooks. The students give $75 each for the weeks food (excluding personal snacks) and the cooks cook breakfast and dinner. There are generally left-overs for lunch. This expense in non-optional, students are required to pay. The cooks are given parameters for dietary preferences, so that food sensitivities are taken into account.
  • What’s Needed: Some items are required, others can be shared, and some are up to the individual students needs.
    All students will need some wildcrafting tools such as pruners and hori-hori. They will also need their plant field guides, and botany kit. Students set up their own transportation, usually carpooling with other students. We meet at our prospective trip locations and start caravaning there. Medicine-making equipment (ethanol, jars, oil, scales, cleavers, etc) is up to the students discretion. The more medicine you want to make for yourself, the more supplies you will need to bring, the biggest expense being alcohol for tincture making. Students usually group order the 95% alcohol together before any field trips.