A review of the Herbarium Community at HANES
Ten, nine, eight, seven….
The Herbal Academy of New England launched the Herbarium this week. I’m excited about this new way to learn about herbs. I learn best by immersion. When I am passionate about something, I plunge in with both feet, buy books, scope out internet sites, submerse myself in hands-on projects, and talk to friends and family about what I’m learning. Most times though, my nearby friends aren’t interested. After the initial polite conversation they are already moving on to discuss the latest petroleum based window cleaning magic cloth or cupcake recipe. Blogging is a great outlet to talk about the things I’m passionate about (thanks for reading. What would I do without you, my friend?) and share what I’m learning and practicing with others. But I’ve missed the amity in the conversation with others who share my delight about herbs, gardening, and traditional medicine.
Herbal medicine is more than just substituting a tincture for a pill. It is more than taking an herbal capsule instead of a cold capsule. Herbalism is transformative. Studying herbs is a lifelong pursuit that integrates lifestyle and conviction. The more we learn and put into practice the more integration heals our fractured selves. The lessons change from book learning to living out what we learn. The way we think about plants changes. Weeds become allies. As we watch them grow through their natural cycle, and we learn how to incorporate their restorative guidance in each season, they become companions in our transformation.
The sad thing is that if you live on enough land to plant an herb garden, you are probably miles away from another human being that will share your JOY when the first dandelion flower appears in the spring. If you mention that you can’t wait for that single bloom to become a sea of yellow so that you can make wine (excellent cold remedy and immune booster, by the way), the eyebrows raise and your isolation is further deepened. HANES offers a solution to the isolated herbalist, to the budding botanist, and to the tincture tinkerer. The Herbarium is a resource site that will help you learn more about herbs in a growing community of herbalists at all levels of knowledge.
What’s an herbarium
An herbarium is a collection of preserved botanical specimens. It can be a journal, an organized file box, or a museum. It is used to document native plants, medicinal plants, and to further the knowledge of botany and herbalism locally. In this case, the collection of preserved specimens is virtual and open for study in The Herbarium.
Who is this for?
The Herbarium is for newbies who are purchasing herbal teas and want to learn how to make their own tea blends. It’s for those who have studied herbs informally and want some guidance and direction to further their studies. It’s for homeschoolers who want to expand on their botany, science, and history knowledge, with hands on learning. It’s for those who have gone through formal herbal or medical studies and want a community that shares their passion for lifelong learning.
To properly take advantage of your membership in the Herbarium you will need a high speed internet connection. The graphics are large. There are videos, articles, craft projects, and podcasts all in one place. While the site is broad and new materials will be added monthly, if you have a dial-up internet connection, you will be unhappy. I had no trouble viewing everything with my 4G satellite connection, though. If you can stream videos from You-Tube you will be well placed to take full advantage of the Herbarium.
What’s it like?
When you first enter the site you come to a garden gate, framed in ivy that hints at the children’s novel, The Secret Garden. It’s a delightful experience to enter through and see the wealth of information already at this new membership site. The contributors are herbalists, medical doctors, writers, PhDs, botanists, and practitioners. You’ll find lengthy well researched articles, links to evidence based herbal science, videos, and crafts to inform and delight you. There’s a membership forum to reduce your isolation, and give you a sounding board. And of course, the Herbarium has a monograph area where you can look up herbs by action, energetics, taste, common preparations, or alphabetically.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to narrow down a search and include more than one criterion. Perhaps that is coming. As it stands now, if I have a cold and need an herb that is anti-catarrhal, for sniffles, it will give me a list – yarrow, hibiscus, elder, and damiana, so far. If I want to further narrow it down to cooling herbs, because I have a mild fever, I’m unable to do so. Instead I have to do a second search for cooling herbs and see if any of these four come up, or read each monograph for the information I need.
The information on the site can be downloaded, printed off, and included in your personal herb journal – membership includes permission to make a single copy for personal use. And like HANES’ two herbal courses, there is plenty that you’ll want a print copy of for your off-line reference. You’ll be able to customize your own herbal binder based on the things that interest you personally.
How long is the membership good for?
The membership is for one year and more resources, articles, and media will be added each month. In fact from when I first viewed the site yesterday until this morning, three new media were added. The growing resources will remain accessible to you as long as your membership is active. So there is no rush to consume it all before the end of the month. You can learn at your leisure.
Does this take the place of an online course?
If you aren’t yet a student in HANES Introductory Herbal course or their Intermediate Herbal Course, you may want to enroll there, too. The Herbarium is an informative addition to their expanding repertoire of Herbal education. The two courses offer more guidance and an organized curriculum to guide you through your herbal studies. While the Herbarium is like the reference library that enriches your studies. You can just spend your time in the library or you can use the library to further enrich your formal study.
Herbarium members get a few perks:
- 10% off Hanes courses with a special coupon code
- A complimentary download of All HANES newly published eBooks – the first one Cooking with the Seasons, Fall edition is available for download as soon as you complete your sign up. ($4.99 value)
Why are you telling me this now?
If you sign up now HANES is offering a special price of $39 for a full year membership.
Use the coupon code: GIVETHANKS
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary membership in the Herbarium in order to complete this review. Nevertheless, this represents my honest opinion of the Herbarium membership site. This post contains affiliate links.