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About the Montana Herb Gathering
The Montana Herb Gathering is an annual event bringing together herbalists, wildcrafters, manufacturers, farmers, students and other herbal enthusiasts from across Montana and around our bioregion. We are dedicated to teaching and learning about, raising awareness of and sharing love for medicinal plants.
In 1997, Rebecca Wittenberg invited a group of herbalists in Missoula and Bozeman including Elaine Sheff, Robyn Klein, Bronwyn Troutman, and Sunny Mavor, to meet at her home in the Bitterroot to compare notes, discuss clinical cases and socialize. The event was fun and inspiring that everyone agreed they should try to get together again...
Meanwhile, Bronwyn was talking with Lynn Montgomery and Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski about forming a Montana gathering along the same celebratory lines as the ones Skeeter had been hosting in Washington for decades. As the plan began to materialize it became clear how well the informal herbalists' guild would fit in with an outdoor, overnight, educational gathering. Susanna MacDougall made her land available, a date was set, and the first Montana Herb Gathering was born.
The first gathering was like a fair on Susanna's beautiful land. The herbal marketplace was in full swing, as were the African drums and dancers. We had door prizes, with everyone winning at least one prize, and our Saturday night meal was a potluck for which everyone cooked. Though most teachers and students camped under the stars, we provided a covered classroom tent for Dr. Rustem Medora.
Greg and Mary Tilford contributed considerable momentum to the second year's gathering, helping to bring the United Plant Savers and the Montana Herb Gathering together for a joint effort. We were very excited to count Rosemary Gladstar and James Green among our teachers. Stephen Buhner and Trishuwa brought their portable lodge, starting our tradition of hosting sweats. Absolute Vision provided delicious gourmet vegetarian cuisine. High winds blew away the tent being used by the meditation class, but everyone saved the food tent! The venerable design of the tipi, however, weathered the wind without a qualm.
By the third year, the MHG left the Bitterroot and landed at the Methodist Camp on the shores of Flathead Lake. Tom Elpel and Roger Wicke joined us for the first time, and Alma Snell won everyone's hearts with her tales of traditional Crow medicine.
Though we were sad to see Sue Wall-MacLane leave as registrar, we were happy to have Kirk Norby ably fill her shoes.
We had swimming and canoeing and Jessica Datta and her family led Nordic sweats. The 2000 event also marked the first Botanical Ball, complete with herbal piñatas! (The papier-mâché was so sturdy that it took several direct direct hits from Jim "Strongman" Flocchini to finally burst the piñatas and reveal their contents.)
2001 found us at the lake again, with Aimee McQuilken taking a leadership role and organizing work study. Curley Youpee joined us, and Mark took over the sweat. Mandy Hallos donated her time to our first website.
In 2002, we brought the gathering back to the Missoula area and the Lubrecht Experimental Forest where we had the pleasure of Jeannie Norby's cooking. Our teacher lineup was exciting as always, featuring first-time visits from Michael Moore, Terry Willard, Ryan Drum and Feather Jones. Helen Burnside joined our staff, and we were pleased to welcome Jennephyr Reich-Sterling, whose excellent organizational work was a real asset to the gathering. Bastyr became our first official academic sponsor.
We're excited to have Richo Cech return, who was last with us in 1998. Also, for the first time this year we will be taping lectures!
Between 2003 and 2007 the herb gathering was going through a restructuring hiatus.
The 7th Montana Herb Gathering was a fantastic success. Michael Pilarski, Kris Hill and Katrina Farnum took over the organizational reigns with superb gusto. Thank you to all who attended and worked so hard to get this bird off the ground again. Re-awakening our Herbal Spirits after a four year nap was well worth the wait. Our presenters had a blast as well as the attendees. Huge thanks to Michael Moore and the South West School of Botanical Medicine for producing so many top notch herbalists, ten of our 20 presenters were graduates of SWSBM. Darry Sterns was our head chef who managed the outdoor kitchen and work study students superbly. Presenters included Paul Bergner, the Flocchini family, Mo O'Brien, Jo Powell, Karyn Schwartz, Christopher Scipio and Adam Seller just to name a few. Thanks to Alice for renting her beautiful event space to us, Montanagua Moss Creek Sanctuary, everyone loved the Bath House! One of the best treats was the essential oil demonstration by Lori Parr-Campbell (Lavender Lori) of Purple Beacon Essential oils, from Missoula. Before the Botanical Ball on Saturday night the kids who had been spending time in the Fun Zone, prepared an herbal skit for the enjoyment of the adults.
Hyalite Youth Camp, Gallatin National Forest No Plant Left Behind The 8th Montana Herb Gathering was again a smashing success. Thank you to all of our volunteers and presenters. Presenters for 2008 included: Terry Willard, Paul Bergner, Brendan Kelly, Greta de la Montagne, Lisa Ganora, Michael Pilarski, Erico Schleicher and Robyn Klein to name a few. Thanks to Shane Doyle for the off site Sweat Lodge, everyone who went came back refreshed, clean and pink. The winner of the Botanical Ball this year was a gentleman who dressed as Compost!!!! 2008 had a few firsts, like the Monday all day Intensive classes, and it was the very first time the event has been held East of the Continental Divide. We left no plant behind with classes on, the Clinical Interview, Herb walk and a herb hike with Kris Hill, Herbal chemistry, Pregnancy plants, Native plant restoration and herbs for children. Thanks goes out to the Meatskin Pirate Jubilee Jugband for the Saturday night entertainment that was enjoyed by all, tremendously. Thanks to Rebecca Linden for making the fantastic quilt that was raffled off and won by Alena Floccini, congratulations!! The food was Fabulous, big thanks to Steve Kuntz of Call Steven Catering and the huge donation from Organic Valley, we love cheese, orange juice, lunch meat and butter. Oh yeah, the kid skit on Sat night was a perfect herbal rendition of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Drink that you mean ol' Troll. Thanks Mikayla and staff of the Fun Zone. It was so great to see everyone enjoying herbalism and friends.
If you have photos from any of our gatherings, we would love to see them. Please send us your images so we can display them on this site. Send us your memories too.
Wow what a year! MHG hosted guests from around the globe. At the last minute, the camp we had secured informed us they had double- booked and we were out of a site. Thanks to one of our Board members, Jennephyr Reiche-Sterling, we had a place to set up shop. Thank you and your family for hosting our group last minute! Having our event at Mill Coulee Creek was wonderful, near Sun River MT,
Thanks to all of our generous food sponsors, especially Organic Valley for all of the yummy donations, as well as to local and national vendors.
Our event was scaled back dramatically, both by teachers/presenters as well as attendants, thanks for understanding folks.
In 2010 The MHG board of directors welcomed Beatrix Jenness as our new secretary, and Mark Frisbie as our attorney. We had some rockin' meetings and got started on the process of filing for non-profit status. In June we had a fantastic "Plants We Can Believe In" event held in the Beaverhead/ Deerlodge National Forest at the stunning Camp Castle Rock. Joining us as presenters were excellent teachers and herbalists including Cascade Anderson Geller, Robert Dale Rogers, Jane Bothwell, Ryan Drum, Robyn Klein, Brendan Kelly, Elaine Doll, Christopher Scipio, Katrina Farmum and Erico Schleicher. On Friday evening Jane and Cascade held a Green Temple of the Holy Clovers experience, and many were intiated! The botanical ball had some remarkable costumes, of which the winner was a "power plant." Along with a silent auction, we held a raffle for Zane Goicovich. Many thanks to all our sponsors, teachers and volunteers!
In 2011 the MHG Board of Directors welcomed Jodie Vasichek as our new secretary, and we successfully filed for non-profit status! Plants Can Do It! was our slogan for our outstanding event, held at Sugarloaf Lodge near Anaconda. Presenters included Wolf Dieter-Storl, Todd Caldecott, Phyllis Hogan, Meryl Floccini, Lisa Ganora, Linwood Tall Bull, Jennephyr Reiche-Sterling, Robyn Klein, Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski, Jim Floccini, Elaine Scheff and Erico Schleicher. Our musical guest was the fabulous Joanne Rand. Thank you so much to all our excellent sponsors, presenters and volunteers!
MHG 2012 was a huge success.
We had our biggest attendance rate ever, 213 people! The Diamond Bar X Ranch was the perfect venue, Kathy and Ben Prince where the perfect hosts and we had amazing views of the Rocky Mountain Front at all times, from every angle.
Everyone felt included in the event. The plant people where abundant, even with the drought and the Bear people where sighted during the event but stayed safely out of the way.
We had some excitement when we where hit by an amazing rain and lightning storm. Lightning hit a tree about 1000 fet above the mountain from us. We called the volunteer fire department and began waking all 200+ people up to take roll call and figure out how we where goingto evacuate. Luckily for us, the volunteer fire department arrived quickly and where able to contain the flare AND there was NO WIND, which saved all of us and the 40 or more homes behind us on the mountain.
Our presenters were impeccable and we where honored to have them share their knowledge with us. The food was amazing, the herbal market place and silent auction where again overflowing with wonderful products and the botanical ball was fun for all.
2012 said goodbye to Jodie Vasichek and Toyia Hatten as board members, but said hello to Kate Houston as our new secretary. MHG is always looking for new board members to carry the torch and allow space for growth, change and new ideas.
We look forward to seeing many of you again in 2013.
For our 2013 event, we decided to try something different; holding the Montana Herb Gathering in an urban environment. Our theme for the event was Urban Herbals. Granted, Hot Springs Montana is not the biggest of cities; however, this was the first time we had ever had our event nestled into the middle of a town, and we were very pleased with the results. The residents of Hot Springs were interested and excited to have us there, and we enjoyed sharing the wealth of information provided by our presenters, as well as the fun times of the Botanical Ball and the biggest Herbal Marketplace we've ever had.
Susun Weed and Paul Bergner taught some fascinating classes during the event as well as two important Monday Intensive classes at the Big Bear Ranch. Our other eminent presenters included Heather Nic an Fleisdier, Todd Caldecott, Toyia Hatten, Michael Pilarski, Kristine Brown, Tim Blakely, Sajah Popham, Sean Donahue, Kiki Geary, Katrina Farnum and Robyn Klein. We welcomed musician Joanne Rand back to teach a class and also perform for our Botanical Ball, and she impressed us all with her talent and enthusiasm.
The Montana Herb Gathering has a rotating board, with each board member term being no longer than 5 years. This was the last year on the board for president Jennephyr Reiche-Sterling, and our secretary Connie Doty, cook Kate Huston and Fun Zone coordinator Georgina Sterling also left us this year. Thankfully, Jim Nymeyer and Lasca Ravenhill stepped up to the plate, joining Beatrix Jenness and Branko Reiche, and we are moving ahead to Montana Herb Gathering 2014! We are always looking for new board members, so if you are interested, please contact us with your resume!