Emily Ruff, Executive Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living and co-founder of the Florida Herbal Conference, is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. Her studies have taken her around three continents where she has studied under healers of many traditions. Her background in gardening and botany came in childhood while wandering the wilderness and digging in the sandy soils of Florida with her grandfather, a tobacco farmer turned urban gardener, and her father, a botany and astronomy professor. Her journey into herbalism continued through apprenticeships in Guatemala under the tutelage of local healers on the southern coast of Lake Atitlan, in the mountains of Vermont at the feet of Rosemary Gladstar, and in the Central Florida apothecary Leaves & Roots with herbalists Carolyn Whitford and George D’Arcy. Emily’s academic studies include Ethnobotany, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida and Curanderismo with the University of New Mexico. She is a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner.
Emily’s dedication to preserving bioregional medicinal plant traditions and ecosystems led her to become active in the organization United Plant Savers. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the Florida Herbal Conference event in 2012, an event which continues to sell out annually. In past years, she served multiple terms as president of the Herb Society of Central Florida and as co-founder of Homegrown Local Food Cooperative. Most recently, in response to the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Emily founded the Orlando Grief Care Project. From the community relationships cultivated through the national response to this tragedy, Emily has formed the Herbal Action Network to continue weaving the web of compassionate herbalism into community engagement. Her most recent work has taken her to Cannonball, North Dakota where she served with the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council.
Emily’s classes have been described as “heart-filled,” “enriching,” and “empowering,” creating a bridge between the teachings of our ancestors and the technologies of our modern world. Emily can be found in her cooking, writing, photographing flora, creating music with family and friends, and digging her fingers in the dirt. The plants continue to be her greatest teachers.
Phyllis Light, RH AHG
A fourth generation Herbalist and Healer, Phyllis D. Light has studied and worked with herbs, foods and other healing techniques for over 30 years. Her studies in Traditional Southern Appalachian Folk Medicine began in the deep woods of North Alabama with lessons from her grandmother, whose herbal and healing knowledge had its roots in her Creek/Cherokee heritage. Phyllis’ studies continued as an apprentice with the late Tommie Bass, a nationally renowned folk herbalist from Sand Rock, Alabama, as well as other herbal Elders throughout the Appalachians and the Deep South.
Her well-established reputation and knowledgeable expertise has allowed Phyllis to travel far afield of her Southern Appalachian home, lecturing and teaching about herbs, integrative and complementary healthcare and traditional folk healing techniques. Consequently, she has taught and lectured at herb schools, universities, medical schools, hospitals and health conferences.
As a Practitioner, she has experience in both clinical and private settings including working in an integrative medical clinic. As a Consultant, Phyllis manages her own herbal consulting business advising businesses, schools, physicians and manufacturers.
In addition to Traditional Folk studies, Phyllis has studied Traditional Western Herbalism, Nutrition, Exercise Science, Body Work and Energy Medicine. She continues to maintain an active herbal practice.
Phyllis has a master’s degree from the University of Alabama in Health Studies (education and promotion) and has taught CEU classes for allied healthcare workers including nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapits and social workers. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and currently sits as secretary of the organization. In addition, she is on the board of directors of the American Naturopathic Certification Board.
Dr. Jody E. Noe, MSc, ND
Dr. Jody E. Noé obtained her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Previous to this, she was awarded her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Noé served as adjunct faculty to the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine, Quinnipiac University, Connecticut College of Naturopathic Physicians, Bastyr University, the New England Women’s Herbal Conference, Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NIAOM) and several community colleges and private organizations.
A founding member of the Botanical Medicine Academy, Dr. Noé is president emeritus for both the Oklahoma and Vermont Associations of Naturopathic Physicians.
In addition to Family Health Care, Dr. Noe’s areas of specialization include integrative oncology, HIV/Aids and chronic disease. In all instances, Dr. Noé works to facilitate integration of mind, body and spirit, which requires patient participation in their own healing process.
Margi Flint, RH AHG
Margi is an herbalist and a delightful teacher with over 30 years of experience behind her. Her most revered teachers are the plants and her clients. She is also author of The Practicing Herbalist: Meeting with Clients – Reading the Body and will have copies available for purchase. Margi teaches nationally and internationally and is adjunct Professor at NSCC, Pacific Rim College BC, the School of Traditional Western Herbalism, Bastyr U., Tufts Medical School, & MCOP as well as running her family practice and clinic in Marblehead, MA. Her website: www.earthsongherbals.com
Leslie Alexander, RH AHG
Leslie Alexander is a practicing professional herbalist and co-owner of Restoration Herbs in Franklin, Pennsylvania. She is also co-author of Dental Herbalism: Natural Therapies for the Mouth. She received her B.Sc. in environmental sciences from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, and her Ph.D. in biological sciences from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. After working for several years in academia as a researcher, focusing on environmental factors affecting health, particularly children’s health, Leslie retrained as an herbalist. She was invited to join the American Herbalists Guild as a professional member in 2009 and is presently serving a term on the AHG Council. She is a member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health and the American Botanical Council. Currently she divides her time between clinical practice, gardening, and her work as an educator, working with students and professionals, offering lectures and workshop opportunities for continuing education. In addition to her focus on both medicinal and culinary herbs, particularly herbs for the mouth, Leslie enjoys foods of all sorts, the outdoors, laughter, and tai chi.
Annie SewDev is an herbalist and EMT in central Florida. She offers donation based herbal wellness consultations, wildcrafts and prepares herbal medicine, teaches about plant identification and utilization, and offers free herbal first aid in downtown Orlando. With great fondness for the place that she lives, she seeks to practice bioregional herbalism, using local plants to improve the quality of life and reduce suffering. She enjoys botanizing with friends, cooking with wild foods, and learning all the intricacies of the relationship between plants and humans. To learn more about Annie, visit http://takerootherbarium.com/
Caroline Chomanics is a passionate horticulturalist in the Central Florida community having earned her Associate’s in Science Degree in Landscape and Horticulture Technology from Valencia College. She is currently attending Rollins College seeking her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. She is Program Manager to Fleet Farming, a pedal-powered urban agriculture program of the non-profit organization IDEAS For Us that transforms underutilized lawns into micro farms, creating a low-carbon solution for local food systems. IDEAS For Us develops, funds, and scales solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. When she is not farming, she is teaching children as Environmental Educator at Historic Nehrling Gardens, The Living School Orlando, and The Florida School of Holistic Living.
Cat Pante aka (Anarchy Alchemist) is a Herb Crafter in Daytona Beach Florida. Formerly, Cat was a law enforcement officer in Daytona Beach, serving 8 years of her 24 year career, as motorcycle officer on the Daytona Beach Motor Squad. Cat also served in the Florida Army National Guard. Cat retired from law enforcement in 2012. She loves the ocean and volunteers in beach clean ups with Surf Rider Foundation. Previously, she volunteered at Haven Recovery Center for women, teaching yoga to women in recovery. (200 and 500 hour yoga teacher training completed with Karrie AuBuchon). Cat began her study of herbs with Herbalist Ralph Shelton, in 1999 after being sent to him for treatment of hepatitis c. After following his protocol for 3 years she is now non-detectable for hep-c. Cat‘s interest in herbs grew as a result and she continued to read Ralph’s, and her own father‘s herb books. In 2013 Cat discovered the Florida School of Holistic Living and completed the Community Herbalist Program with Emily Ruff. Cat has also completed courses offered by herbalists around the country including: Cancer Care for Herbalists with Jody Noe, Reading the Body with Margi Flint, Southern Folk Medicine with Phyllis Light, First Aid for the Home with 7 Song, Herbalist Teacher Training with Rosemary Gladstar, as well as classes with David Winston and Betzy Bancroft. Cat is currently continuing her herbal education in Chinese herbs under Bob Linde in Saint Petersburg, FL. Cat is also the creator of “Cat‘s Pit Dust” a natural deodorant. Cat loves to wild gather elderberries and make a MESS crafting up some plant medicine… “She’s MAD but She’s MAGIC. There’s no lie in her FIRE.” – Charles Bukowski
Debbie Krause is a Central Florida herbalist with a passion for plants, healing and medicine-making. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies from Rollins College’s Hamilton Holt School in 1994 and has had a passion for nature and a connection to nature ever since. One of her greatest joys is wandering through the woods here in Florida or up in the mountains of North Carolina.
Debbie began her formal herbal training at the Florida School of Holistic Living and completed the Community Herbalist training under Emily Ruff’s skilled guidance. She has continued her training with a variety of esteemed herbalists including Kim Ellis, Margi Flint, Jody Noe, Phyllis Light, 7Song, Thomas Easley, Michael Cottingham, John Gallagher, Rosalee de la Foret, Sam Coffman and Steven Horne.
Debbie believes that learning never ends and is thankful for every opportunity to learn about herbs, wilderness, and healing. She appreciates every teacher who has crossed her path and believes that “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
While Debbie appreciates every aspect of herbalism, she has a true passion for medicine-making. You can often find her in the kitchen working with fresh roots, creating tinctures and formulas or making her well-known “Deb’s Super Salve” first-aid salve and lip balm. She takes a lighthearted approach and loves the fun, messy nature of herbalism and the cast of characters that has become a core part of her life. She also enjoys teaching others how to take their own health and the health of their families, communities and environment into their own hands.
Donna Cirell has been interested in nature & respecting Mother Earth all her life. Since the 1970’s she’s been involved with food co-ops, actively protested the building of nuclear power plants & has been involved with different organizations & programs to protect Mother Earth, in those days it was called ecology rather than sustainability, but the focus remains the same, protecting Mother Earth and her resources. These interests made Donna acutely aware of the chemicals contained in the products we use in our daily lives and the dangers they pose to people, animals, our water & the earth. Wanting to protect herself, her family & the earth, Donna began making her own organic personal care products & medicines. It was this involvement & concern that prompted Donna to begin her formal herbal studies, evolving into a Community Herbalist was a natural progression.
She’s honored to have trained with several of the most revered herbalists, spiritual teachers & healers of our time and including a proud alumni of the Florida School of Holistic Living. She continues to further her education having studied Herbal First Aid, Aromatherapy, Facial Diagnostics & Integrative Naturopathic Oncology & she completed her herbal teacher training with Rosemary Gladstar, the “Godmother of Modern Herbalism.”
Residing in Central Florida where she continues her work as a steward of Mother Earth, Donna is an avid gardener, a Community Herbalist, Flower Essence Practitioner & Reiki Master with her own herbal practice aiding people in achieving natural health & wellness through education, nutrition and plant & spirit medicine.
Jennifer Williams is an enthusiastic educator and passionate weaver. From embroidery, crochet, kumihimo, cross stitch, quilting and weaving, she has studied and explored fiber arts since childhood. Her fiber arts journey led her to weaving in 2007. In weaving she has found her true creative calling.
Jennifer’s teaching philosophy is to engage with students where they are and to help students have a sense of accomplishment. Her classes are hands on, and Jennifer’s affable manner endears her to students. Her energy matched with clear communication style make her classes accessible to all experience levels.
She uses here blog, Inkled Pink, as a way to connect with the global inkle band weaving community and to inspire people to utilize inkle band weaving in innovative ways. By offering creative project tutorials which incorporate many areas of fiber arts and other areas of crafting, she illuminates the range of projects available to weavers through inkle.
Jennifer has enjoyed being an educator in varied fields for many years. She has been a middle school health teacher in Boston Public Schools, has taught animal pharmaceutical product knowledge workshops to veterinarians and taught career readiness and job preparedness skills workshops to college students at the University of Central Florida. Currently, she is a homeschool educator to her two grade school age sons.
Jennifer’s weaving teaching background includes teaching workshops on inkle band weaving and weaving projects at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Florida Tropical Weavers Guild Annual Conferences. She is committed to passing on fiber arts and seeks any opportunity to teach weaving skills to others. Jennifer also teaches private weaving lessons to individuals and small groups and can be found weaving on airplanes to entice someone to ask, “What are you doing.”
As a life-long learner, Jennifer sharpens her creative skills by taking classes and attending conferences in areas she is looking to grow. She has taken workshops with many of her role models in weaving including Advanced Inkle Weaving Techniques with Anne Dixon, Backstrap Weaving: Andean Pebble Weave with Laverne Waddington, Tablet Weaving with John Mullarkey and Swedish Band Weaving with Susan Foulkes, and Twill Basket Weaving with Nancy Jones.
Jennifer strives to stay current in weaving innovations as well as immersed in its history. She is an active member of several weaving organizations. She has been a member of Weavers of Orlando for 10 years and serves as the editor for the guild newsletter. She is also a member of Florida Tropical Weavers Guild, Handweavers Guild of America, International Braid Society, TWIST: Tablet Weavers International Studies and Techniques and National Basket Organization.
Jon Martin is an aspiring mycologist and mushroom enthusiast focused on identifying, photographing, and documenting local species of fungi present in Central Florida. From their significant role in the ecosystem, to their beauty and potential as a source of food and medicine, Jon is inspired by mushrooms and spends as much time as possible in nature getting to know them. He contributes to local parks by conducting periodic fungi surveys on designated properties, and shares his finds with book authors, mushroom photographers, and mycologists. He has also been involved with local agriculture and permaculture, volunteering with Sugar Top Farms, Sundew Gardens, and other small organic farms. He studies the healing properties and energies of whole foods from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine and advocates the importance of diet in holistic health.
Leann Hill is an herbalist in Orlando, FL. She has been learning about herbs her whole life, but only formally studying since 2010. She has many varying interests including music, cooking, and history, and she tries to incorporate these into her herbal practices. She has been honored to be able to study under herbalist Emily Ruff as well as other various herbalists who teach at the Florida School of Holistic Living. She also writes weekly articles at www.BatLadyHerbals.com and relishes the chance to learn as much as possible about the wonderful world of herbs.
A plant walk at Mead Gardens five years ago with Emily Ruff, rekindled a love of plants and the power of wellness they possess. Since that fateful day, Lisa Ray plunged into an intensive study of health, wellness and herbalism. She graduated from Florida School of Holistic Living’s Community Herbalist program in 2016, training with Emily Ruff. Then in 2016 she made the decision to leave her native Florida and move to Low Gap, North Carolina. Under the guidance of Thomas Easley and Matthew Wood, she completed the 11-month Intensive Advanced Clinical Herbalist Program at the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine. Spending time in the school’s 400 acre nature sanctuary was a once in a lifetime experience that she will cherish forever. In a quest to learn from a variety of herbalists, Lisa has also attended classes with Jim McDonald, Marc Williams, Erika Galatin, Sam Coffman, Steven Horne and Guido Mase’. Lisa has also completed levels 1 & 2 of the Bach Flower Essence Training Program.
Maggie is an herbalist and educator in Central Florida. She comes from a large family where chaos was the norm. She always found peace outside watching things grow or climbing magnolia trees. One of her older brothers was considered hyperactive and had a hard time staying in school. Because of the impact food had on his behavior they had no sugar in the house, including ketchup! She learned in her mother’s kitchen that the things you put in your mouth impact your mind and your body.
In the early 90’s she first found her own inspiration to view health from a holistic perspective while working as a teacher assistant at a mental health hospital for children. From that experience, she decided that there had to be a better way to help kids beyond medicating them to a zombie state with pharmaceuticals. She started college studying education and psychology and ultimately received a bachelor’s degree in Human Development.
In 1999 she took her love of plants to Oakland, California where she worked with inner city elementary students and teachers, learning and teaching about violence prevention and anger management through physical education and body awareness. She explored working with food, exercise, breathing, and communication skills. She continued to study plants and their medicine by sharing with friends.
In 2006 she moved to Florida to find a slower pace in life. Though her love of teaching hasn’t waned, she took the opportunity to focus on deepening her plant knowledge in a more intentional way with herb walks with Emily Ruff. Since then she has found inspiration from teachers like Phyllis Light, Rosemary Gladstar, David Winston to name a few and mostly Emily Ruff. Finishing the community herbalist program in May of 2015. She continues her passion for helping people find peace by sharing her knowledge with whomever will listen. She enjoys working with friends, family, and strangers seeking a more holistic way to be healthy.
These days she can be found hiking on trails, tending her garden, creating something good for you in her kitchen, teaching in her community about plant medicine, and learning from her six-year-old herbalist and his friends.
Mary Samantha Reilly is an aromatherapist that seeks to provide aromatherapy education both as online and live courses. She wishes to reach to communities to those looking to expand their knowledge in the use of essential oils through her courses. She is also a trained massage therapist in the state of Florida which allowed her to teach hands on aromatherapy massage and Aroma-reflexology to both licensed massage and those wishing to gain knowledge on techniques used within these modalities.
Mary has had a qualification at Diploma level in both massage and Beauty therapy (Cosmetology), Holistic & Complimentary Therapies, plus teaching degree (B.A) and has taught for over fourteen years. In this time, she has worked both in Spas and in a college for higher Education, where she was a lecturer in various modalities in the U.K.
Michele Bumbier is a permaculture practitioner with a background in horticulture.
She works frequently with herbalism, pollinators, and Florida Native plants. Her passion for bridging the gap between society and Nature began in 2012 when she intuitively created her first garden. The rewards were not just edible, but spiritual. This activated her desire to teach others about the endless benefits of gardening.
Michele has cultivated a strong spiritual practice communicating with Nature through intentional gardening. She uses her intuition to create and install permaculture landscapes that provide peace of mind to the resident, an abundance of food, and a special sanctuary for reconnecting with Earth. She has installed numerous organic gardens for various clients. She works extensively with children as well, teaching them the importance of protecting and honoring Nature. Michele is currently working on various permaculture installations, furthering her path in herbalism, and making medicinal remedies from her gardens.
Nina DiCristina is a practicing herbalist in Orlando, FL. She hung out with weeping willows and honeysuckles as a child, and then spent a good chunk of time forgetting about the plant world in favor of all things Major League Baseball. It wasn’t until she was 20 and away from home in the AmeriCorps*NCCC program, stationed in Sheridan, Wyoming, where she rekindled her love of all things green. There are few things more humbling, haunting, and memorable, in her experience, than being face to face with a moose in a great expanse of wildflowers and mountains. She’s been studying herbalism and holistic health since 2008, and is a graduate of the Community Herbalist program at the Florida School of Holistic Living. She’s been grateful to study with Emily Ruff, Rosemary Gladstar, and Guido Masé. She has taught at the Florida School of Holistic Living, Sage Mountain Retreat Center, and Ground Floor Farm. A seeker of knowledge, she studies mythology, ethnobotany, and anthropology in her spare time. She believes whole heartedly if we do not study our history we’re bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. She also loves reading a good book, watching a good tv show, and listening to good music. She is a scorpio, ISFP, slytherin, swamp bending, plant person.
Ralph Giunta has been deeply in reverence to Mother Nature ever since he opened his eyes to her brilliance through the wild weeds in his Orlando backyard, years ago. He has since studied and continues to sit at the feet of folk healers across this blue green marvel, from Peru to Florida. He loves to lead others to the simple yet profound realizations that are inherent in the phrase “remember plants”… that this process of learning about holistic healing and herbalism is more so a process of remembering than anything else, for he has found it to be a human truth, a birthright on our path as beings, to be in relationship to wellness and vitality. Through bioregional awareness, learning the plants that even come up around our homes, to the foods we eat, to the rituals we choose to participate in, Ralph desires to bring you back home.
Shannon Lockhart is a Mother, Folk Herbalist and light-worker. As a healer, her passion in life has become empowering others by helping them learn how to be responsible for their personal health and well-being. With such a busy life and being mindful of the fact the she is human and not immune to the external stressors in our world, Shannon decided to implement yoga into her daily routine. After attending yoga regularly, she was pleased with how yoga helped her off the mat in every aspect of her life. Having crossed paths with a wonderful teacher by the name of Tymi Howard and feeling blessed to be a part of the beautifully spirited community of like-minded individuals she helped grow, she was in Love! Shannon soon decided she wanted to deepen her practice and began teacher training the following summer. Shannon has been teaching yoga ever since and is truly humbled by the opportunity and experience. Allowing yoga to take a key role in her life has been essential as it has opened doors to new positive opportunities, new friends, and most importantly opened her heart! Shannon wants to share her passion and love for yoga with others, knowing it will have many positive effects in their lives as well.
Stephen Kane is a passionate teacher, with a master’s degree in education he spent many years inside the classroom. He currently works at Bok Tower Gardens as a Garden Educator. His lifelong love of plants has taken him many interesting places as he continues to answer the call of the plants. His passion is ethnobotany, especially man’s call from the natural world to be in balance with the earth. He is a earth-skills practitioner learning and teaching others valuable lessons of survival living. He is blessed to learn from Emily Ruff and all the amazing teachers at the Florida School of Holistic living where he completed the community herbalist program. Stephen shares his life with his wife Sara and we are most proud of our two children who continue to teach and inspire us.
North Florida Branch Teachers
Phoenix Fermin is a Community Herbalist and Director of Development for non-profit Lichgate on High Road, a historic site in Tallahassee, FL.
Her great passion for gardening rooted in 1998 at a home-based plant nursery. There she learned about planting, cultivating, harvesting, transplanting, and propagation. Her love of gardening grew and she began her herbal studies in 2006, teaching yoga for Herbalist Rose Kalajian at The Natural Health Hut in Wesley Chapel, FL and Bob Linde at Acupuncture & Herbal Therapies (AcuHerbals) in St. Petersburg, FL. In 2012, she attended the first Florida Herbal Conference with Rosemary Gladstar as the keynote speaker. Inspired and deepening her connection to the plants, she furthered her studies over the course of several years at the Florida School of Holistic Living with Herbalist, Emily Ruff. Phoenix continues to expand her herbal knowledge through classes in all aspects of herbal medicine, clinical practice, and hands-on gardening experience; as there is no end to the depth of knowledge that we learn from our plant allies. She provides herbal consultations and offers a variety of herbal products through her blooming business, Sacred Tree Herbals. Phoenix is a Certified Yoga Instructor, children’s book Illustrator and Author for AppleTree Institute in Washington, DC, and has enjoyed working in education with the Florida Department of Education, Full Sail University, and Cornell University. In the past, she has enjoyed teaching preschool children by developing daily lesson plans, yoga instruction on a weekly basis, and designed and implemented the school gardens. With her love of gardening and serving the community, she also served as Executive Director for non-profit Damayan Garden Project. Phoenix has taught seminars at New Leaf Market, Tallahassee Nurseries, Florida State University, Sustainable Tallahassee, Roots Roundtable at the Florida School of Holistic Living, and Lichgate on High Road. Phoenix is the Regional Director for the Florida School of Holistic Living North Florida Branch.
Since Ghita was a young girl she has been mesmerized by the world of plants, always exploring her surroundings to find out what plants could be used for medicine or
food. This fascination for plants continued into adulthood and has turned into a long life passion. For 12 years Ghita had a small natural body care business where she created all kinds of herbal products for people to care for their bodies in a healing and holistic way. Later in life she returned to university to finish her degree in Plant Sciences with the intent to protect the plants and the knowledge of people connected to these healing plants for future generations. Ghita also spends her summers abroad in Spain with forays into France, Portugal and elsewhere learning about the useful plants of these areas and connecting with others that have roots in the botanical world.
Susan Anderson, is the owner and operator of Native Naturals Farm. Her family has lived on and worked the same land since 1826. The farm produces organically grown herbs, nuts and fruits as well as grass fed beef. She comes from a long line of herbalists and healers. She began the study native plant medicine, collecting, growing and preparing, with her grandmother who was a well respected midwife and nurse. She is of both Creek and Cherokee descent and has learned from traditional healers throughout the southeast. She is a traditional ceremonial person and draws heavily on her cultural roots in her relationship with the growing world.
She has worked as a resource planner, journalist, educator and as a natural resource interpretive writer. She has served as executive director for two nonprofits and consultant on numerous environmental and cultural projects.
Her love of the land and respect for the food, fiber and medicinal value of native plants has been a guiding force in her life. She is a traditional fiber artist working primarily with native plant fibers and dyes. She has developed an intimate and comprehensive understanding of her land, it’s ecosystems and cycles and how these things relate to the unique “medicine of place”.
Her non traditional academic education includes degrees in sociology and religion from Florida State University. Graduate studies in urban and regional planning at FSU and cultural sustainability at Goucher College in Baltimore MD.
Vicki McGee, is a biologist, herbalist and permaculture designer of Cherokee and Catawba descent. She and her family have been
practicing traditional medicine for many generations and she is a member of both Cherokee and Miscogee creek traditional communities. Coming from a family of farmers and orange growers her relationship with plants began early. She spent several years living “off the grid” on a barrier island in south Florida where she raised her oldest son and became immersed in sustainable living practices. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of “living lightly” on the planet and has been asked to help design sustainable curriculum for local schools.
She currently resides in Key Largo, Florida where she is the Research Project Coordinator for the Florida Bay Inter-agency Science Center.
Ari O’Hara was raised among the beautiful Pine trees of Tallahassee, Florida. She graduated from FSU with a degree in Art History,
but where her heart truly lies is in peace with Mother Nature and all her plant allies. After high school, she wanted to forgo college and instead begin down her herbal path, hoping to travel to North Carolina and work with Juliet Blankespoore at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. It was not until the beginning of 2013, however, that the world of herbalism opened up to Ari. After becoming incredibly ill, and healing herself of her ailments with the aid of locally foraged plants and fungi, she knew that in order to be truly healthy, happy and whole, she needed to finally take the Green Path to becoming an herbalist. Ari began making her own healing tinctures, salves and herbal infusions through self-study, and began her own small business called Valley Green Herbs, which she still runs today. In 2015, Ari went to her first Florida Herbal Conference, an event that changed her life in so many amazing ways. She got to meet, work with and learn from countless inspiring herbalists, among them was the ever inspiring and radiant Emily Ruff, Bob Linde, Joanna Helms, keynote speaker and noted herbalist Steven Foster, and the lovely Juliet Blankespoore herself. Being immersed in the world she loved fueled Ari’s passion for healing and her life has never been the same. Since then she has continued learning and expanding her lovingly made herbal products, received a certificate in Traditional Mexican Medicine (Curanderismo) with Eliseo “Cheo” Torres from the University of New Mexico, has travelled to the 2016 Florida Herbal Conference to meet Paul Stamets and continue her education, and now teaches classes on herbalism and healing to those who want to learn form the comfort of her own home in Havana, Florida.
Ari is currently working on a certificate through the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine to complete a six-month, in depth course on Medicine Making. Ari’s goals for the future are to become a certified clinical herbalist in order to help heal those in need and to continue teaching about the incredible power of plant medicine. Ari is also proud to be working with Emily Ruff and Phoenix Fermin to open a branch of The Florida School of Holistic Living in Tallahassee. When she’s not busy reading about plants, making medicine, working in her garden or out foraging for wild edibles, Ari spends her time learning and practicing Ashtanga Yoga, as well as learning the ancient Sanskrit language, which her plants particularly love to hear her speak. She also loves crystals and stones, and loves to blend crystal essences into her herbal preparations for their added healing benefits.
If you are a Floridian, you have likely seen the art of Honey Hilliard. Her paintings are featured on Florida’s bird identification
poster. She created the paintings 20 years ago, and the posters have been in circulation ever since, at state parks, wildlife refuges, schools and libraries all over Florida. Since the creation of those extremely detailed bird paintings, Hilliard’s art has become progressively bigger, brighter and bolder. A talented, prolific artist and entrepreneur, Honey creates soulful, vibrant paintings, thick with texture, rich with color and alive with energy. After receiving an art degree from Florida State University, she was employed by the State of Florida as a bird and wildlife artist. For the last 16 years, Honey has honed her abilities as a successful freelance artist. Honey’s interactive children’s book, Looking for Butterflies©, was published in 2012, and takes place at St Marks Refuge, is available at bookstores and www.LookingforButterflies.com. Honey spent the summer of 2013 studying and working as an assistant at an Artist Retreat Center, a trip that resulted in a body of oil and pastel paintings, “The French Collection”, another of several ongoing series such as “The Bejeweled Forest”, a collection of jeweled, crowned creatures with gold leaf and decorative fibonacci swirls. Honey’s art has been featured in many publications, calendars and books. Her work has been commissioned and collected by clients across the US and internationally.
Bridget Noel Jones
Bridget Noel Jones is a Licensed Massage Therapist for 20 years, a Kundalini Yoga teacher for 18 years, and has been living a holistically healthy lifestyle using herbs, nutrition, vegetarianism, and many modalities for herself and her family for over 20 years. Bridget is passionate about healing and loves empowering others with the knowledge to keep themselves well.
Denise describes herself as an ex-R.N. (Registered Nurse). After working in the Western medical system for 28 years she became frustrated with sick care and decided to dedicate herself to learning/teaching how to live a healthy lifestyle. She supplemented her Bachelor of Science degree with a Diploma in Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM). The CAM degree focused on a dual major in herbalism and aromatherapy. She also expanded her long term yoga practice into a teaching role by acquiring her 200 RYT certification. Her ultimate goal is to see herbal medicine become a part of the daily life, just as it used to be in the past.
Jill Welch is a natural foods educator and chef with over 20 years of experience in helping people improve their diet and lifestyle, lose weight and stabilize their moods by adopting a natural foods way of life. For more information on cleanse classes, health consultations, wellness coaching, recipes or health tips visit www.thekitchengoddess.com.
Heather has been an educator for 22 years beginning as a classroom teacher and then a case manager for a research project jointly run by pediatric neurology and education at the University of Florida. She later became an independent consultant, presenting at local and national conferences and providing training, coaching, and support related to improving education. Heather joined the Florida Department of Education and the University of South Florida to coordinate and facilitate statewide efforts for implementing a unified, integrated, data-based multi-tiered system of supports and lead improvements for school counseling, social work, psychology, and nursing. Heather’s work in education included a passion for the multiple dimensions of health for both students and teachers. While working at the Department, she attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, NYC, and earned her certification in holistic health coaching. Heather routinely embedded her passion for health into her life and work, opening and closing otherwise conventional meetings with yoga and mindfulness practices and sharing strategies with her team on healthy work/life balance. She became known in her career for a quirky fixation on natural living, wholesome eating, walking meetings, and yoga breaks. The Department featured an article on her healthy routines and coworkers sought her advice and support daily. Heather now devotes her time to providing health coaching and education in contribution to the food revolution. Her interest is in improving our society’s kitchen culture and our relationship with food, our bodies, and the planet. Heather’s integrative approach provides her clients with the crucial connections between the dimensions of health, life and happiness.
Alannah Brown, MS, Ed.S., LMHC. Alannah brings diverse knowledge to the staff. She currently practices as a Mental Health Counselor, herbalist, and Tai Chi instructor. Her practice is holistic and based on the notion that all parts of a person must be addressed in order to have true healing. She wishes to present seminars in the practical aspects of using herbs at home and in the community to promote joyous health, radiant well-being, and increased consciousness. This season, she will present on Fermentation for Mood Stability and the Alchemical Art of Distillation.
Sallie Dixon is an Advanced Student with the East West School of Planetary Herbology. Studying traditional energetic systems including TCM, Ayurveda and ‘Western’ approaches to the uses of plants. The EW program integrates plants and diagnostic tools from multiple traditional systems. An avid learner, continually expanding and enhancing her formal schooling, Sallie attends conferences, symposiums, workshops and webinars from a wide variety of nationally and internationally known practitioners and educators. It wasn’t until 2008 that Sallie began to focus on incorporating plants into her life after an acupuncturist recommended herbs to improve her health and encouraged her interest. Since then plants have become an integral part of her life – and her family’s – both as food and medicine. She also utilizes energetic principles and herbs to treat her horses, dogs and cats. Sallie maintains a limited clinical practice in the Tallahassee area where she works with people from a nutritional and lifestyle perspective, incorporating herbs as appropriate for the individual and their constitution. She lives in rural Gadsden County near Tallahassee and enjoys tending an unruly collection of herbs and other plants.
Artemis Dove has lived in the Tallahassee area for 17 years. Over these years she has walked the forests and watched the seasons of the plants around her. Her Love for Nature and the Amazing properties of Plants has always intrigued her though. She really begin to cultivate her love when at the age of 18 she moved to the beautiful land of Maui, where she lived on several Organic Farms. From there began her journey of developing a special relationship with Plants everywhere she went.
When she became a mother it solidified the importance even more for her, to share this Love and Respect for the Earth with her children.She wanted to express this by trying to follow a Natural Rhythm of Living. She became trained as a Doula and co-hosted a Natural Birthing themed movie night at the Birth Cottage. And founded a Nursing Support group in Gadsden County. Over the years that she has been in the Panhandle area, she has organized monthly Drum Circles celebrating the Moons Cycles. Her love of Drumming and Inspiring children continued as she co-founded the Keiki Artist Village, at the bi-annual Paralounge Drum Gathering. It is always her desire to support Children in their Natural Discovery of the World around them. To look at the Plants and Nature as their Neighbors and Friends. Learning their names and observing how they change with the seasons.
South Florida Branch Teachers
Angie Gonzalez is a Permaculture Designer/ Facilitator, Yoga Teacher & Ayurvedic Herbal Practitioner. She serves as a health advocate for the planet and for the people, through classes, permaculture courses, and other holistic workshops, writings and public speaking. When the integrity of an environment is compromised then the inhabitant species is also at risk. Through her teachings, the need to care for the Earth as part of integral preventative health care is highly emphasized. Angie teaches health and wellness that is created from the root cause, the homeostasis of the living GAIA better known as Mother Earth. Angie is the founder of Permaculture Yogi “inspiring inner & outer ecology through regenerative lifestyles.”
Natural perfume pioneer and industry leader Anya McCoy established the first retail line of 100% natural perfumes in the United States in South Florida in 1991. Called Anya?s Tropical Essences, the perfumes were sold in hotels and boutiques including The Marlin, the Unicorn Village in Aventura, Beautiful Things and Fabulous. She gathered a loyal following of celebrities and chefs who welcomed her on-site visits where she also promoted fragrant gardens with the sale of herb plants, and demonstrated cooking with pure unadulterated essential oils and absolutes.
Her career as a natural perfumer began many years earlier, while studying Economic Botany with an emphasis in fragrant plants at the University of California. There, she discovered a book that helped her on the path to becoming a perfumer, because the book held secrets previously unrevealed to many outside of the French perfume industry. Anya began to follow the instructions in the book, creating accords, comparing and contrasting aromatics and getting intimately aware of how they danced together.
After receiving her degree in Economic Botany, and subsequently a Masters in Landscape Architecture from SUNY Syracuse, Anya worked for law firms, land developers and municipalities. She found ways to weave scented plants into riverwalk, residential and downtown projects she designed and administered.
Always involved in the community and education, Anya was elected to a State of Florida position as District Manager of the Soil and Water Conservation District (Collier County) in 1990. In 1991, she founded Anya?s Tropical Essences, the first all-natural retail perfume line in America, which was distributed on South Beach and in South Florida boutiques and hotels. Hoteliers and restaurateurs looked forward to her weekly visits to see what new fragrant plant or perfume she had to offer. Some chefs used her essential oils in their menu and bar offerings, and they are believed to be the first in Florida to use these lively, beautiful oils to enhance the dishes and drinks they served. Now living in Miami, Anya bought an Art Deco house and created gardens to grow her own fragrant and edible tropical and subtropical plants year-round. She also extracted the scent from the fragrant plants, and herbal tinctures and infusions from the medicinal plants.
Anya probably holds the unique position as being the only perfumer ever elected to a state office, and also writing for a national magazine, because in 1995, she became the South Florida seed tester and correspondent for Organic Gardening, a national publication.
In 2002, Anya decided to host an ambitious natural perfumery project on Yahoo!, dedicating the focus of the group to education about natural perfumery. Thousands of natural perfumers have been nurtured in the group, whether they practice the art on the hobbyist or professional perfumer level. The group now has over 2600 members who have access to the 50,000+ archived messages, extensive Files, Links and other educational resources. By creating and nurturing this group, Anya became an iconic figure in natural perfumery, and is recognized by just her first name in perfumery circles. The Yahoo group now has over 2600 members, and is the largest repository of educational materials about natural perfumery in the world, and is free and open to all.
Anya besides her award-winning perfumes, Anya also creates private label fragrance products to hotels, boutiques and perfume companies, developing natural fragrances for soaps, lotions, hair care, and other bath and body products.
She offers online and home study perfumery courses at the Natural Perfumery Institute she founded at http://PerfumeClasses.com She is also the owner and CEO of the Natural Perfumers Guild, the only worldwide organization devoted to the art of natural perfumery.
She published the first USA-based perfumery textbook for the students of the Natural Perfumery Institute, and is currently at work on Perfume From Your Garden, a guide on how to extract the scent of home grown plants.
Learn more about Anya at http://AnyasGarden.com
Blaise Maselli, AP
Blaise Richard Maselli is a Florida licensed acupuncturist #2303 and a Board Certified Dipl.0.M (NCCAOM). He is also a Florida State Oriental Medical Association member. Blaise graduated from the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine and has a Bachelor of Health Science and Master of Oriental Medicine degree. He did post graduate studies at the Lincoln Hospital Annex, Bronx, New York, in the drug treatment program. He also studied Toyohari style acupuncture and is a certfied ayurvedic health and wellness counselor having graduated from Sai Ayurvedic College & Wellness Center of Miami, Florida. His herbal education includes study with Emily Ruff at the Florida School Of Holistic Living community herbalist program as well as the mentor program in chinese herbalism with Sharon Weizenbaum of the White Pine Institute.
Blaise follows the adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. His focus is on preventative medicine to include diet, herbs, oriental movement exercises, breath work, a gentle acupuncture needle technique and healthy lifestyle choices. In his leisure time Blaise does community service work, practices qi gong, teaches the benefits of tonic herbs and spends time gardening.
Claudia Costa has been in the herbal field since 1994, as well as working in the supplement departments of several alternative, and retail establishments since she was twenty years old. For twelve years, she worked at Flower Power Herbs & Roots in New York City for 12 years, where we offered herbal classes and trainings for tinctures, dry herbs, essential oils, flower essences & salves. Many well known authors & teachers visit and continue to have classes at their East Village 9 street location where they have been for the last 20 years.
At the same time, Claudia attended Flynn’s School of Herbology, where we also had a shop (partnered with Flower Power) on East 4th st NYC. They offered live blood cell analysis, colonics, and herbal tinctures & teas until 2003. She is currently learning about sound healing and ancient rituals with Alessandra Belloni, singer & percussionist, and incorporates it in to her own musical compositions as Cloüd (Cosm, Moksha, The Nest) where she works with 432 mh healing modalities through electronic and acoustic instrumentation. She has taught Kombucha making classes at La Plaza Cultural, NYC & The Honey Tree, Miami, where she also currently works as their supplement specialist & customer service.
Claudia says,”I am honored to have been given this opportunity to share all the information I have accumulated for the last 20 years, and would love to bring alternative healing modalities to help better the South Florida community, and empower individuals to become their own healers.”
Dr. Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, RH AHG
Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, RH AHG, The Natural Nurse® has been involved in Natural Medicine since 1973, when she directed a program in Ethnobotany at Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona. Dr. Kamhi attended Rutgers and Cornell Universities, sat on the Panel of Traditional Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical School, and is a Medical School Instructor, teaching Botanical Pharmacology. She was nominated for the March of Dimes, Woman of Distinction 2004 and received the J.G Gallimore award for research in science.
Dr. Kamhi is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild (AHG), and is nationally board certified as an Advanced Holistic Nurse (AHN-BC). Ellen Kamhi is the author of many books, including Cycles of Life, Herbs for Women, The Natural Guide to Great Sex, WEIGHT LOSS-the Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide, and co-authored with Dr. Eugene Zampieron, The Natural Medicine Chest and Arthritis, The Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide. She hosts radio shows daily, including on Gary Nulls Progressive Radio Network, and is regularly quoted in numerous mainstream media including Marie Clare, Globe, Latina, Self, Woman’s World, Prevention, Cosmopolitan and Glamour.
She is on the Peer Review Editorial Board of several journals/organizations, including: Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Natural Medicine Journal, Natural Standard Database.
Dr. Kamhi provides group and individual online certification educational modules in Herbal Medicine, Essential Oil Therapy,Energy Medicine, and all aspects of holistic medicine, and provides personal health consultations. Ellen Kamhi is actively involved, along with Dr. Eugene Zampieron, ND, with Natural Alternatives Health, Education and Multimedia Services, and leads EcoTours For Cures, which brings participants to indiginous areas to experience the ancient healing arts of traditional cultures.
Emily Ruff, Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living, is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. Her studies have taken her around three continents, where she has studied under indigenous healers of many traditions. Ms. Ruff inherits a strong background in gardening and botany from her family. The roots of her study were passed down during her childhood wandering the wilderness of Central Florida with her father, a botanist and professor, and digging in the soil with her grandfather, an urban farmer.
Her journey into herbalism was sparked in adolescence, when she traveled to Guatemala and apprenticed with local plant healers. Returning to the United States, she completed apprenticeships with many admired Western herbalists, including Rosemary Gladstar, Carolyn Whitford, and George D’Arcy. Continuing her studies, Emily returned to sit at the feet of Rosemary Gladstar, completing advanced studies including teacher training and a residential internship with her at Sage Mountain in Vermont. Emily has also continued her travels and studies of Central American healing traditions under Rocio Alarcon, Maria Elena Martinez, and Hunbatz Men. She has studied under many wise healers, inspired by studies with Roman Hanis, Kathleen Meier, Stephen Buhner, and Kate Gilday. Emily’s academic studies also include Ethnobotany, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida. She is a registered Flower Essence Practitioner through the Bach Foundation.
Emily has dedicated much of her work to preserving bioregional medicinal plants and their eco-systems as a member of United Plant Savers. She has also been a proud supporter of her local community through service, including multiple terms serving as president of the Herb Society of Central Florida and as co-founder of Homegrown Local Food Cooperative. Emily is a frequently published author whose articles have appeared in Natural Awakenings, Orlando Weekly, and as Gardening Columnist for Edible Orlando. An archive of her writings can be found at her website.
Venues such as the Winter Park Public Library, Orange County Public Library, University of Central Florida, Valencia Community College, Florida Native Plant Society, Winter Park Harvest Festival, Winter Park Garden Club, Leu Gardens, Mead Botanical Garden, Biscayne Nature Preserve, and Florida Federation of Garden Clubs have welcomed Emily’s teachings. Regional and national events such as the National Gardening School, New England Women’s Herbal Conference, and Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference have also featured her classes. She currently lectures throughout Florida and the United States to groups, organizations, garden clubs, and schools. Before joining the school, Emily traveled extensively throughout the United States, Central America, and Western Europe, teaching environmental, economic and social justice with international NGOs, and founding two social justice non-profits that remain thriving today.
In 2004, Emily launched her product line, Orenda Herbal, to provide her community with quality herbal preparations formulated with organic and locally grown ingredients. She joined the school in the Spring of 2005 as a teacher, soon after stepping into the role of the school’s Director and formalizing the organization her mentor began into a federally-recognized 501c3.
Emily’s classes have been described as heart-filled, enriching, and joyful, and seek to create a bridge between the teachings of our ancestors and the technologies of our modern world. Today, Emily stewards an herbal urban homestead in Central Florida, where she lives her joy immersed in the healing environment of her backyard garden, or in her other joys which include cooking, yoga, writing, photography, and creating music with family and friends. Through a daily practice of meditation and digging her fingers in the dirt, the plants continue to be her greatest teachers.
Jody Mountcastle is enthusiastic about plants! A community herbalist, gardener, wild gatherer, home cook, and fermenter Jody looks to the plants for nourishment, beauty, medicine. Jody finds joy in learning and teaching about plant medicine and wisdom practices.
Julia Onnie-Hay is a certified herbalist, holistic health counselor and yoga teacher who created Bless Botanicals as a vehicle to facilitate her mission of reconnecting people to the healing forces of plants.
Before diving deep into her study of herbs and yoga, she earned a B.A. in cultural anthropology from New College of Florida in 2005 and a graduate certificate in holistic health counseling from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2008.
Julia has studied folk healing traditions in the Peruvian Amazon, Ghana, Jamaica, and throughout the United States, including the Big Island of Hawai’i, northern California, and North Carolina. She earned her certification as a Family Herbalist from the Florida School of Holistic Living in 2012 and is a lifelong student of herbalist elders and the plants themselves. Julia is a founding member of the South Florida Herbal Community. She earned her 200 hour yoga certification from 305 Yoga & Outreach and swiftly thereafter became a certified Curvy Yoga teacher. Julia combines her love for yoga and herbs with her Plant-Spirit Medicine Yoga practice.
In addition to her work and studies with plants and yoga, Julia is full-time nonprofit program administrator with a decade of professional experience in wellness policy, the out-of-school time (OST) field, leadership development (youth and adult), food justice issues, and drug policy reform. Julia also hold certifications in permaculture design, teaching yoga to at-risk youth, and as a birth doula. Born in Washington, D.C. and raised there and on the small island of Salt Cay in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Julia is based in Miami, Florida at the Earth ‘n’ Us Farm in the Little Haiti neighborhood.
Monique Moyer’s interest in herbalism started about 14 years ago, in Tallahassee, FL. Prescription for Nutritional Healing was my Bible. She read up on the herbal remedies and would take herbs home to make things at the end of the day. She loved it! She learned how to make tinctures from a friend and began obsessively tincturing EVERYTHING!!
In 2003 Monique moved out to a intentional community in a canyon in rural Eastern Washington where she met some herbalists who taught me of the plants in the area, and she began to wildcraft with them there. Upon my return to Tallahassee, she started a small business with a friend called Moontides. There she taught workshops about women’s health, sold keepers and reusable cotton menstrual pads and tinctures to aid women in different stages of their lives, from their first moon, through pregnancy and menopause.
In 2007 She decided to take my knowledge of herbs to the next level. She studied with 7Song at the Northeastern School of Botanical Medicine in Ithaca New York. She learned an immeasurable amount of information during this 6 month intensive course, ranging from botany, to wildcrafting, preparing herbal medicines, tons of matera-medica and how to practice as a clinical herbalist. She also experience setting up and working a clinic during this time.
She moved back to Miami after herb school and started The Painted Snail Apothecary, selling my products at farmers markets, doing private consultations, and providing tinctures and teas to midwives and birthing people. She has also taught workshops though Powerful Women and Families and facilitated herbalism study groups with local midwives.
Paula Diaz is an herbalist and lifelong student of the plants. Her budding practice draws inspiration from traditional medicine, preventative self-care, and their synergy with modern science. Paula offers workshops on bioregional herbalism, edible wild plants, and ethnobotany. She is a medicinal herb grower and co-founder of the South Florida Herbal Community.