Two and a half decades ago I found a family. The first time I stepped into my first herbal conference, Medicines from the Earth, in Black Mountain, NC, I had a new sense of belonging. To be surrounded by so many people who cared about the planet, who listened to each other, who honored elders and who sought the wisdom of the plants was a new experience for me. I discovered that an age-old tradition was alive and well in the herbal community: the relationship of mentorship and apprentice.
It was at that gathering that I met one of my most formative mentors over the next two decades: David Winston, AHG. For anyone in the herbal world David Winston hardly needs an introduction. He has made a tremendous impact in the herbal renaissance in the mid atlantic region, as well as national and international herbal movements. I am quite sure I have not met a single practicing herbalist in this area who has not been a student of Winston’s at some point.
When applying for his internship many years ago, I remember only one question on the application: “How do you plan to use your herbal training to teach others.” David expected us to take what he handed to us and pass it on. Imagine how thousands of graduates from the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies have taken his teachings about Cherokee, Chinese and Western herbal traditions and impacted their own communities. For me, and for many others, he laid a deep and solid foundation in herbal therapeutics.
Beyond the classroom, David has a greater vision of the need for sustainable practices in our relationships with plants and with each other. As one of the founding members of the American Herbalists Guild, he helped create an organization that re-established the art and science of herbal medicine in this country.
He was the first teacher I contacted when I considered hosting a new conference in the MidAtlantic region, Allies for Plants and People. As a mentor to so many people, and a true ally to the plant world, this man is the reason this event is happening. Without his work over four decades I wonder how different things might be, for herbalists, for those seeking alternative and adjunctive health care and for many plant species the world around. Thanks to David’s tireless work dedicated to the green world and the beings that exist within it, I see him as one of the most significant forces for healing and change on this planet, something much needed.
Meet David Winston at the Allies for Plants and People, June 8-10, Upper Black Eddy, PA. He will host a plant walk with Christopher Hobbs, teach a class on adaptogens and also honor us as our keynote speaker.