Thursday, February 21, 2008
Herbalist Spotlight-John Gallagher Family
John Gallagher is a fellow herbalist I really admire. He and his wife Kimberly live in the Seattle area and have pioneered an intense network of herbology on the web. John is a homebody like myself with a love for the plants and a love for continuing to learn about them.
Kimberly is the creator of the famous Wildcraft! game you probably have heard me talk about sometimes the past year. I advertise it on my site as well. It is a great tool for the entire family, but especially good for little ones. My children get so excited when we play this non competitive game. They love learning herbs this way.
John, however, has taken the love they have for herbalism, and created a huge world online for herbal networking, learning, and fun. They started with Learning Herbs, offering simple recipes, nutritional columns, and interviews. This lead into Herb Mentor, which we will find out about in this brief inter view I had with John.
John is a 37 year old father of 2. Rowan is 8 and Hailey is 3. The family resides in Carnation, Washington, but John will tell you he is located on cyberspace.
I asked John what lead him to herbs. He was about 21 when he first sparked interest, but it was not until he was 29 when new herb related opportunities came his way. Here is his story.
I started working for Wilderness Awareness School about 18 years ago, and developed a big interest in edible and medicinal plants. However, it was hard to find a way to access the herbs. I guess I do not work well with books, and I really needed a mentor to cross that bridge from book to actually doing it When my son was on the way 9 years ago, it got me motivated to learn. I really wanted to learn how to help him naturally. I found a couple of mentors locally. I am fortunate to have such great teachers living around me in the Seattle area.
My mentors are RavenCroft Garden, Erin Groh, and Karen Sherwood, who are all local herbalists. They led me to the books that have made a difference. There are some great local guides and herb books, but Susun Weed's Healing Wise was probably the cornerstone. Anything by her, Rosemary Gladstar, Stephen Buhner, Michael Moore, Gail Edwards.... Herbals written by Herbalists... Also Gregory Tildford's From Earth to Herbalist is great. Sharol Tilgner's herbal video's were very helpful, but they are out of print. I "reprinted" them on HerbMentor.com, with permission of course.
I asked John if he has a favorite method of making plant medicine.
I'm a folk herbalist dude. Stuff it in a jar, cover it up, decant it. Easy as 1-2-3. Oils, tinctures, vinegars...all the same way. However, the most used remedy I make is a daily nourishing herbal infusion..mostly using nettles, oat straw, dandelion, burdock, comfrey, sea weed, linden...not all at once of course.
I guess you could call me "the lazy herbalist." Keeping it really simple shows other people who you know that this stuff is NOT HARD... And it makes it more accessible to them. Then, they learn and share with someone else. We can all be teachers. Keeping it easy, we can do this.
Johns met his first mentor, Erin Groh, in 1998.
Michael Pilarski (Skeeter) is a well known character in the northwest herb scene. He started an herbal fest in the Bellingham area (no longer happens). It was that event in 1998 when I met Erin Groh.
5 years later, Learning Herbs medicine making kit was an inspired creation by John.
He says, " I also had the idea for the Herbal Medicine Making Kit, which is something I WAS LOOKING FOR as a newbie. No one ever made it, so I did. We released it with our new site, LearningHerbs.com in 2004".
John does not offer consults, nor does he travel around teaching courses. He does it all online, pulling in other passionate herbalists to share their wisdom and experience with others on his newest venue HerbMentor.com as well as LearningHerbs.com reaching hundreds of people at one time.
John does have a weekend workshop May 9-11 at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington. There are some classes he does at the school. You can find out more at
I asked John his vision for the future and the plans he hopes will unfold. Here is what he says.
To build an amazing online herbal community on HerbMentor.com. To continue to develop awesome training tools for folks. To make herbs accessible to anyone who wants to learn. To work with herbalists and herbal authors around the word, and support them by giving them exposure on HerbMentor. I love planting those seeds. Every Herbal Medicine Making Kit I ship out is like an "herbalist seed." Our Wildcraft! Board game works the same way. Thousands of seeds have been scattered. People around the world are learning to use plants again. I think the herbs are happy to be working with humans again. They miss us.
John, most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is one word of wisdom or
sage advice you could leave them, what would that be?
Keep it simple. Learn one experience at a time. One herb at a time. Keep it fun and inspiring. Focus on nourishing yourself and herbal first aid. Those are the secrets to learning about herbs....so you do not get overwhelmed. Keep the mystery in it and it will always be new and exciting.
Plants are life, and life is never boring. Also, life can be simple or life can be complicated... So, simple or complicated? You choose...
The Gallagher family has inspired me to bring to fruition many of the things I do in the herbal community. Teaching, videoing, pod casting, these are all things I thought about doing, even talking to my husband about learning to do them, but we never had time to figure it out.
Seeing John "jump in and do it" inspired me to take the leap of faith to do many of the projects I am involved in. So in some ways, he is truly one of my herb mentors.;)
In closing, I asked John to share one last thing with you and here is what he says.
Visit us as LearningHerbs.com and HerbMentor.com . HerbMentor.com launches to the WORLD on March 21. We have a GREAT community on the site already. You'll have a good time learning with us.
LearningHerbs.com is Herbal Medicine Made Simple.
And I would also like to share that I have been part of Learning Herbs for at least a year and Herb Mentor for about 4 or 5 months, whenever it was launched last year. There were some people who had been reading their newsletters from Learning Herbs that actually had the opportunity to get in on it early. I was one of those fortunate ones.
Wildcraft and Herbal Medicine Making Kit