Your Back-Yard Pharmacy
by Christina Callicott
Jun 24, 2008 | 561 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OURAY – In 1997, Americans spent $5 billion on herbal medicines, according to the National Institutes of Health. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of natural and herbal products, as well as the money spent on them, has exploded since then.

In the San Juan Mountains, the herbal pharmacy is right out our back door – and this week, Weehawken is offering a class that will teach you how to shop there for free, safely and effectively. On Friday, June 27, San Juan native Melanie Kent will offer a beginner herb walk to teach the identification and properties of some common edible and medicinal plants.

“This is an introductory class for people who have no experience, as well as for people who want to freshen up their skills,” Kent said.

The day will commence with an hour-long class to introduce students to the basics of botany and herbal medicine. After that, Kent will lead students on a field trip to identify plants in the wild and learn their medicinal and edible applications.

“This will be a gentle walk that people of all ages can enjoy,” she said. “We’re just going to see what’s happening out there, what’s blooming.” Kent said that the winter’s heavy snowfall should bring out an abundance of plants. “I’m really excited to see what we see after the huge winter. I think the plants and flowers are going to be bountiful this summer,” she said.

The location for this week’s herb walk was yet to be determined, but Kent said that it would probably be a gentle hike in the Amphitheater. She said that students could expect to learn plants such as arnica, yarrow, a variety of berry bushes, wild rose, osha, and nettles, among other species.

Kent, who grew up hiking the mountains of southwest Colorado, said that she has always been interested in plants.

“I’ve always been drawn to plants and identifying them. The next obvious step was learning their uses. I was always interested in their edible uses and how native people used the plants,” she said. Kent is a certified clinical herbalist, having completed a three-year program in plant medicine at the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies. Kent makes herbal medicines and preparations for her family and her community; she leads herb walks regularly in Ouray and Telluride for students from pre-school age through the elderly.

This week’s class will meet at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 329 5th Avenue in Ouray. It costs $30 for WCA members and $33 for non-members.

Weehawken will host Kent for a follow-up Intermediate Herb Walk on July 19. In this class, Kent will guide students on a moderate hike to some higher elevation terrain, where different types of medicines grow. She will also teach some of the basics of medicine preparation. This class will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at a location to be determined; it costs $30 for WCA members and $33 for non-members; there is a discount for payment before July 15.

For more information on these classes and Weehawken’s other offerings, call Ashley King at 970/318-0150 or go to weekhawkenarts.org.
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