The purpose of this symposium is to bring together students, community members, herbalists, ethno-botanists, and those in the scientific community who are involved in researching medicinal herbs.

Every other spring, when Western North Carolina begins to blossom with elegance, the WWC Wellness Program, in collaboration with Warren Wilson College, and the Western North Carolina community, holds a symposium centered on personal and community wellness. In 2007, we brought nutritionist Sally Fallon to the school to lead a series of weekend workshops on nutrition and tradition. We enjoy hosting these events and welcoming people from outside the WWC community onto our campus to learn and grow. This year, we are organizing a conference through which we hope to bridge the divide between traditional herbalists and research scientists who are studying medicinal herbs.  

There are several reasons why we are focusing on herbal medicine. The first reason is there is a great interest among the Warren Wilson College community to learn about plants and their medicinal properties. Furthermore, we live in one of the most bio-diverse regions in United States, and have, in our backyard, mountains and people who are full of plant knowledge. Also, there is an ever-growing interest in Western North Carolina to learn about medicinal plants. There are numerous schools in the area that train herbalists and teach plant medicine. Furthermore, conferences centered on medicinal plants, have drawn hundreds of participants over the past several years.

Warren Wilson College will also host Teka Soares Dos Santos, an herbalist and community organizer from Brazil, for several months in the spring. Teka is bringing with her a vast knowledge of Brazilian herbal medicine, and will explain how her community is working to bring indigenous Herbalism into the current medical system in Brazil. Teka’s presence at the school has catalyzed our desire to create a space for her to speak about her work, alongside other herbalists and teachers from the United States.

A weekend of collaboration, brainstorming, environmental advocacy, education, and celebration will center on workshops, classes, and herb walks. The weekend will be open to the public and will be a means for the community to expand its understanding of the centrifuge of possibilities between traditional Herbalism and modern science. This symposium will also be a way to further Warren Wilson College’s commitment to environmental stewardship, as well as provide a common ground for the diverse fields of herbal medicine to collaborate.  

We are excited about this symposium and welcome your help in making it happen. We are especially seeking funding, sponsorships, and assistance with advertising. Also, we still have space available for herbalists and teachers who may be interested in presenting a workshop, class, or plant walk for the weekend.