Overview Old Ways Herbal School of Plant Medicine offers a personalized, hands-on apprenticeship program for students looking for an in-depth experience. The Traditional Apprentice Program is a 6-month program that takes place over the course of a growing season and involves all aspects of our herbal practice. We also offer the High Summer Apprentice Program in July and August only. Our apprenticeship is not classroom-based; instead, we learn by doing, and in the process apprentices provide an essential service with the work of their hands.
As the season blooms and goes to seed we will discuss the medicinal uses of the plants around us from the perspectives of Traditional Western Herbalism and Medical Herbalism, informing our understanding with aspects of other philosophies including Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and the Wise Woman Tradition.
Apprentices work side by side with Juliette to learn skills related to medicinal plant propagation and cultivation, organic gardening and permaculture, ethical wildcrafting, medicine making, plant identification, formulation, clinical assessment skills, food as medicine, and more. Curriculum is tailored to the individual interests and needs of each year’s apprentices, to ensure that they get the most out of their experience.
Apprentices complete a personal culmination project that reflects their unique interests in herbalism. Past culmination projects have included multi-year garden plans, a garden plot, clinical intakes, materia medica, and co-teaching workshops. Apprentices receive a certificate reflecting their completion of the program, their culmination project, and hours of study.
There are additional opportunities that pop up throughout the season such as trips to conferences and events, which are optional but strongly recommended.
We are located in Newfane, Vermont, 20 minutes from Brattleboro on the unceded traditional lands of the Elnu Abenaki of Ndakinna. For more information about our farm and practice, please read About Us and School of Plant Medicine.
Traditional Program Schedule: The traditional apprentice program runs May through October, about 120 hours over 26 weeks of herbal immersion. Apprentices are here one day per week, and additionally are expected to assist at monthly online Sunday courses. The exact hours will be determined as it gets closer (due to COVID-19 restrictions, whether or not we can go inside, childcare, etc.). IF we are running in-person courses for the public, those will be on weekends also and the expectation is that at least 1 apprentice is available to assist; this will be determined by COVID-19 also.
High Summer Program Schedule: Have you wanted to do our in-depth apprenticeship, but lacked the ability to commit to the whole six months? This is a shortened version of our traditional apprentice program, intended to accommodate those with schedules that can be flexible over shorter periods, such as teachers and students. The shortened apprenticeship runs in July and August, about 50 hours over 8 weeks of in person herbal immersion plus the monthly online Sunday courses.
Materials There are several required tools for the program, which are necessary for harvesting, wild-crafting, and making herbal medicine. Medicine-making tools and supplies are recommended as well, so you can make the most of your learning. There are also recommended books to enhance the learning experience, but they are not required as each apprentice’s learning is tied to their own personal interests.
Selection Process Because of the personal nature of the program, we can only accept 1-3 apprentices per season. It is simply not possible to tailor the curriculum to more people than that; we have had a wide range of experience levels and it lessens everyone’s experience when the group is too large. We are looking for reliable people with a desire to learn who can make the time commitment and appreciate our philosophy of tending the land. Formal herbal education experience is not required, although preference is given to candidates who demonstrate a true desire to expand their herbal knowledge. It is important to note that this program is what you make of it.
Lodging For apprentices who are traveling from a distance to study, we offer a beautiful primitive campsite in our forest free of charge if you need a place to stay the night before your workday.
What are this year’s projects? Apprentices will help tend and expand our energetic herb garden, nurture the forest botanical sanctuary, and revitalize our cottage garden (medicinal spin on a traditional favorite), among other ongoing projects. We will make medicine from our forest, field, and gardens, and take wild-crafting adventures out into the world. We will do food-as-medicine projects, discuss clinical skills, energetics, formulation…what are you interested in? 2014 was our first full year at our new farm, so this is an opportunity to be part of the process. If you’re interested in learning about companion planting, growing at-risk medicinals, growing medicinal foods and edible medicines, wildcrafting in harmony with the turn of the year, and making and using a wide variety of medicines, then this is a good program for you.
Accessibility Talk to us about your barriers. We are happy to find workable solutions whenever possible. In the past we have made accommodations for lack of childcare, lodging obstacles, etc. COVID-19 makes things complicated; we will do our best.
Applications, Deadlines, & Fees Applications are available below. An application deposit of $100 to hold your place is due with your completed application (applied to tuition if you are accepted, refunded if you are not). Applications will be reviewed and followed by a phone interview to ensure our perspectives are a good match. Application deposits are fully refundable up to the application deadline. Your deposit will be refunded if you are not chosen for the apprenticeship. The remainder of the fee is due by the beginning of the program. Payment plans are available, but additional work-trade is not, as the program is already heavily discounted for the work component.
Traditional Program: Tuition $1900, price includes a work-trade component ($1800 owed after application deposit) Payment plans available of course. Application deadline March 1.
High Summer Program: Tuition $750 ($650 owed after application deposit). Application deadline April 15. Accepted apprentices will be included in online courses starting in May, even if we cannot yet meet in person, so get your applications in!
Note: this is the pre-pandemic application. Please ignore the stuff about the AirBnb, the biweekly option, and anything else that contradicts the things on this page. As an act of self-care, I’m not updating the application today; instead I’m going for a walk. You should also go for a walk after you submit the application–you deserve it.
If you have questions or want more information, email us. We love to hear from you.