Wildcrafting in the hollers

Fall signals harvest, and most garden classes at this time of year tend to focus either on what to do with the season’s bounty or on how to put your beds to bed.

Flower lovers might want to check out “Nature, Craft and Art,” a workshop offered at the North Carolina Arboretum (Tuesday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to noon). Arboretum volunteer Margaret Kelly will demonstrate how to use pressed flowers to create botanical art. There’s a $5 materials fee, and though preregistration is not required, only the first 20 people will be accepted. There’s free parking at the arboretum on Tuesdays.

If you’re more consumer than artist, “Wild Edible & Medicinal Plants,” offered at the Earth School in Tryon, may be right up your garden path. School founder Richard Cleveland will discuss backyard plants that can be used as medicines — or in tonight’s salad.

Cleveland says he “has taught nature-awareness skills to thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds, around the world.”

The class will cover identifying, collecting and preparing meals from various plants and making medicines from wild plants, including treatments for bee stings, sunburn and wounds. The three-day event will also explore ancient cooking methods such as clay baking, pit cooking and rock ovens.

The course runs from Thursday, Aug. 26 through Sunday, Aug. 29; tuition ($350) includes all instruction and materials.

A pair of upcoming Sunday classes presented by the Southern Appalachian School for Growing Medicinal Plants may be of special interest to herbalists. “A Ginseng Hunt” (Sept. 5) will cover ginseng and goldenseal, including hunting for ginseng berries and putting the seeds in a stratification box. (The berry pulp is said to lower blood sugar and help treat obesity.) Gary Kauffman, a botanist with the U.S. Forest Service, will be team teaching with school founder Robert Eidus.

At the second class, “Seed Saving in the Fall” (Sept. 19), author Lee Barnes (who holds a doctorate in botany) will discuss methods of harvesting, cleaning and storing medicinal-plant seeds.

Red Moon Herbs continues a series of classes taught by Corinna Wood at Earthaven EcoVillage. A weekend course, “Wild Plants for Wild Women” will be offered Aug. 28-29 (10 a.m. on Saturday through 5 p.m. on Sunday, overnight camping or lodging available). The women-only class will explore how to use locally abundant herbs to support optimum health in every cycle of a woman’s life: menstruation, pregnancy/breast-feeding, and menopause. Another class, “Wild Plants for Food and Medicine,” will be presented on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Linda Blue of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service will conclude this year’s “Home Landscaping: Basics for Beginners” series at Pack Memorial Library with “Maintenance: Keeping It Looking Good” (Tuesday, Aug. 31, 6:30-8 p.m.). In the future, the series will probably not be free, Blue told Xpress. “The county is engaged in cost-cutting,” she explained, “and they want us to charge a fee for future classes,” though every effort will be made to keep the fees modest. “We’ve been getting a very good response,” said Blue, “and we want to keep serving as many people as possible in the community.”

Contact info

* North Carolina Arboretum (828) 665-2492
* Earth School (866) 504-3199 (toll-free); www.LoveTheEarth.com
* Southern Appalachian School for Growing Medicinal Plants (828) 649-3536; robert@ncgoldenseal.com
* Red Moon Herbs (888) 929-0777 (toll-free) or (828) 669-1310; wisewomen@RedMoonHerbs.com
* N.C. Cooperative Extension Service (828) 255-5522; www.ces.ncsu.edu/buncombe/

About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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