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This introductory herbal medicine apprenticeship program employs a work-study model and focuses on learning the region’s native and locally grown plants while producing high quality plant medicine for the local community. The 6-month, hands-on learning opportunity will meet once weekly, on Wednesdays, in 2019 from May 1 through Nov. 7th with participants engaging in gardening, foraging, community service and herbal medicine-making plus independent work, study, reading and reflection outside of class. Most of the time will be spent together outside in fields, forests and gardens throughout the Burlington area (including both urban and rural ecosystems).

Katherine & Kara strive to provide a genuine and joyful experience with the plants which promotes culinary, medicinal and spiritual curiosity & creativity and emphasizes ecological and community stewardship. The greatest teachers are the plants themselves, and learning through direct experience and experimentation with them will be prioritized over a more lecture-driven teaching approach of therapeutic or clinical uses. Apprentices will be encouraged to identify a need in our community around access to plant medicine, and then supported to develop an independent study component specific to their particular interests in plant medicine.

​some reflections from past apprentices…

“The plant walk was invaluable and taught us about the plentiful and abundant resources we have growing wild, such as St. John’s Wort. We are incorporating some of these into our business for the future as the demand for plant-based medicines continue to grow in Burlington. I’d highly recommend Katherine for any farmer looking to increase their awareness and potential output of resources from their property.”

“Apprenticing with Kara and Katherine is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and it has been incredibly impactful. The relationships with plants they hold are in balance with reverence to plants as teachers and friends. They carry the messages of community herbalism with concerted strategies and with innate grace. Kara and Katherine instill principles of the Good Harvest and embody the heart of herbalism. This apprenticeship has deepened my work with plants from all angles, and I’m incredibly grateful.”

“Prior to enrolling in the Spoonful Apprenticeship I had minimal knowledge about medicinal herbals. The variety of learning experiences including work study, assigned readings especially Body into Balance and hands on preparation of tinctures, syrups, fire cider, body care products, plant identification walks, plant harvesting and preparation, etc all helped me to learn. I would highly recommend this journey to those wishing to learn from the ground up or add to your current knowledge base.”

“The Spoonful Apprenticeship made my summer! The program gave me a foundation for incorporating herbalism into my daily life, but even better, it cultivated real, direct relationships with plants. The green world continues to become more and more illuminated and engaging for my mind, heart and hands. I’m excited to keep learning and to share these gifts with my community.”

​Participants will


  • learn to identify seasonal, local Vermont medicinal plants in fields, forests, urban landscapes and gardens
  • engage in a deep and meaningful way with the plants themselves, to learn their natures, needs, strengths and gifts
  • build a personal practice of honorable harvest and reciprocal relationship with your plant teachers
  • make herbal preparations of all kinds
  • understand basic herbal therapeutics as they relate to the body’s organ systems
  • creatively incorporate herbs into your lifestyle, personal care and culinary creations
  • practice techniques for organically growing medicinals from seed to harvest
  • garden for local pollinators and get an introduction to beekeeping basics
  • be introduced to a variety of local herbal practitioners, farmers and resources
  • build a collaborative local community of fellow budding herbalists
  • contribute to a resilient community herbalism system in the Burlington area
  • share hand-crafted herbal remedies with members of our Community Supported Herbalism (CSH) share program
  • explore an independent project of personal interest with support from the group and instructors
  • participate in weekly group work-study efforts
  • have the option to attend extra field trips, workshops and community service efforts
  • take home plants and harvests for your own use
  • invite a plant walk of your home or land for an informal inventory of your own backyard medicinals.

​This class will be taught collaboratively by Katherine Elmer and Kara Buchanan. They share a deep love and reverence for the plants and the wild and not-so-wild places they live, and for the amazing resilience and innate knowledge of the human body. They find great joy in sharing their knowledge of the plants and their herbal creations with community near and far.

To learn more about Katherine and Kara, please visit our home page.

​2019 Program Details


To apply to the 2019 program, please fill out this online application, due by April 7.
2019 Spoonful Herbals Community Herbalism Apprenticeship Application


The cost of the program is $1200
(6-month payment plan of $200/month available)

This program is now eligible for Vermont Non-Degree Grant financial assistance through VSAC.
Learn More


We will meet weekly on Wednesdays afternoons ​from noon-4pm May 1st to Nov. 6th in 2019, (excluding one Wed. in both July & August) with a commitment to additional am or pm work-study

Please feel free to email us with further questions.