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What it's Like to Intern at the Herb Pharm

Updated: 5 days ago

When it comes to being an herbalist, putting your hands in the dirt and truly getting to know the plants is so, so necessary. One of the most impactful experiences in my herbal training was spending 2 months living, working and studying as an intern at the Herb Pharm in southern Oregon. We lived communally, worked on the farm, studied with dozens of amazing teachers and spent an incredible amount of time with so many different herbs.


Harvesting Rosemary with my good friend Rainy Day


Herbalism, like most crafts, requires quite a bit of studying. I've spent hours and hours with my face buried in books trying to get to know all the different plants that come up in my classes (and here's a link to some of the research I've done during this process).


But herbs are not two-dimensional beings and to truly get to know them we need to interact with them. That is why I was so excited to be accepted as an intern at the Herb Pharm - this was an opportunity to spend time in the Applegate Valley surrounded by so many amazing live herbs.


During my time at Herb Pharm, I got to meet Ashwagandha, Self-Heal, Gotu Kola, Wood Betony, Black Cohosh and so many more incredible herbs up close and in person. We farmed these herbs, diligently pulling weeds away from them, harvesting them, washing, drying and processing them - the herbs have so much to teach you when you slow down to engage with them at every phase of the medicine making process.


Plant walks were common and were one of my favorite parts of the experience


Spilanthes roots remind me of ramen noodles, Rosemary's smell won't leave you for weeks after you've trimmed 2 tons of her and Mullein's soft leaves pick up so. much. dirt. But let me tell you - the tincture I made from the Mullein that I weeded and harvested myself is some of the strongest and most powerful medicine I've ever taken.


There's something to be said for the relationships we build with plants when we interact with them day after day.

Just as every plant has their own lesson(s) so teach us, every herbalist has their own perspective on botanical medicine. And the Applegate Valley, where the Herb Pharm is located, is a magnet for herbalists. This makes it an incredible place to bring students and teachers together to share their love and knowledge of the plants that nourish us so well.


Calendula grows like the Hydra and so we harvested them almost every week


The Herb Pharm internship program was intense - we would work for 8 hours every day and have 3 hours of classes most evenings. To be honest, I think it was too much in some ways and found it really overwhelming to stay centered and healthy with such a busy schedule. However, I did absorb so, so much while I was there and for that I am grateful.


We would pile into our house after a day of physical labor, eat a home-cooked meal made by one of our fellow interns and then and have dozens of teachers come into our living room on different evenings to teach us about herbal medicine. Herbal first aid, astrological correspondences, the virtues of seaweed, plant communication and so many amazing perspectives were sprinkled around us, planting seeds of herbal knowledge that will sprout and grow as we continue on our healing paths.


We had an incredible medicine making shed full of materials and herbs to make tinctures, oils, salves, glycerites and more. There were several medicine making classes throughout the internship and we had access to so many fresh, organic herbs from around the farm to work with. I feel much more confident as a folk medicine maker now, it's similar to taking the time to practice cooking and seeing yourself get better at working with the plants.


A few of the many herbal concoctions I made


The farming was hard. Organic farming is mostly weeding and weed we did. Days of pulling deep-rooted weeds and cover crops made my hands, back and arms strong. I never realized how strong farmers hands really needed to be. Harvests were intense too - one time we spent days harvesting a literal ton of Rosemary for the Herb Pharm labs. 2000 pounds of such a lightweight and airy herb. It smelled delicious.


Living communally was an adventure as well. I hadn't shared a room with another person since I was in college and I had two roommates at the Herb Pharm, along with 5 other folks to make us a group of 8 in the house. The Herb Pharm had a well-established structure set up to facilitate a smooth living situation and I learned a lot about what it takes to live communally and collaboratively with many different folks.


I met some of my very favorite people at the Herb Pharm and definitely made a few lifelong friends, as well as colleagues and collaborators who are similarly focused on bringing more healing into the world, starting our own businesses and working closely with the plants and earth. I seriously cannot believe I got to meet such cool folks, the Herb Pharm brings some awesome people together.


Being Goobers during an eclipse in front of an incredible Oak tree


After having studied herbs online with Artemisia Academy for so many years, getting to have such a tactile and personal educational experience was exactly what I needed to further my herbal skills. It also felt like a beautiful way to carry on the herbal lineage in which I have been educated because two of my teachers from Artemisia, Emily Sanders and Jaimee Simundson, are former Herb Pharm interns themselves.


Overall, interning at the Herb Pharm challenged me and helped me grow as a budding herbalist in so many ways. Getting to know the plants, learning more about myself, being exposed to different perspectives about herbalism and meeting so many other plant people were all deeply impactful.


I'm continuing my journey as an herbalist and astrologer, making folk medicines all the time and helping myself and those around me with herbal remedies. I'm building a business and I am so excited by all the perspectives that I tuned into during my time at the Herb Pharm.


Walking to work early in the morning


Bees are such hard workers


We all took turns landscaping in the amazing Herb Pharm gardens



Tiny tiny mushrooms


More fun on plant walks



Love is infinite


About the Author

A headshot of the author, Alicia Cielle Heiser

Alicia Cielle Heiser is an Herbal Astrologer who helps folks navigate their lives with the wisdom of the stars and plants. She offers astrology readings, crafts personalized herbal tea blends and also has a podcast called Conversations with the Planets. Alicia's practice is focused on facilitating a greater understanding of life's cycles through encouraging empowerment, safety, and helping folks deepen their relationship with themselves and the more-than-human world.


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