Minnesota’s Herbal Festival

Welcome to the Holistic Health and Herbal Education Festival!


You’ve come to the right spot to learn about Minnesota’s own herbal conference.  Since 2006 The Holistic Health and Herbal Education Festival has been an an opportunity for holistic health and herbal medicine practitioners, students and enthusiasts from the Upper Midwest to learn from regional teachers in our own backyard. The 2017 festival will take place at Prairie Oaks Institute a retreat center on a beautiful farm in Belle Plaine, MInnesota just 45 minutes from the Twin  Cities. Instructors and participants come from all over Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.


The festival is organized like a conference and consists of four different sessions with participants choosing from among 3 or 4 workshops offered at each session.  We offer diverse workshops with offerings suitable for beginners as well as intermediate/advanced workshops.  The bulk of our workshops cover different aspects of herbal medicine such as  plant identification, medicine making, hands-on  kitchen herbalism or cosmetics, clinical or diagnostic topics in herbalism.  We also offer workshops from instructors from other modalities. Past years have included classes in homeopathy, nutrition, flower essences, Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi Gong and more.

The festival includes a leisurely lunch period that features our famous dessert buffet including (gluten free and vegan options) and two  plant walks for those who want to learn even more.  Some years a local beekeeper is available at lunch selling raw, wildflower honey and beeswax and the festival includes several vendors of handmade herbal or wildcrafted products.

Scroll down to learn more about this year’s festival.

 12th Annual Holistic Health and Herbal Education Festival


Join us at a beautiful, plant filled  historic farm and retreat center in Belle Plaine, Minnesota just 45 minutes from the Twin Cities for a day of herbal and holistic health classes.

When:  Sunday, September 17, 2017

Where: Prairie Oaks Institute in Belle Plaine, Minnesota

Twelve to sixteen workshops will be offered by a variety of accomplished practitioners and educators. There will be something for everyone from beginning to advanced students, including opportunities for hands-on medicine making and plant id.  Relax on the farm between classes and join us for herbal teas a delicious dessert buffet.

Register online here.  


 Schedule of Events

Subject to Change–Scroll down to read more about our instructors and course descriptions.

Participants select one class per session; participants may switch sessions if desired.

8:30-9:00 Welcome Circle

9:00-10:30 Session One
1. Medicinal Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota with Erin Piorier
2. Intro to Herbal Energetics with Jessie Belden
3. Teas for Resilience Erica Fargione
4. Digital Tools for your Business with Clare Gardner Nieto

10:30-11:00 break

11:00-12:30 Session two
1. The Immune System: Not What You Think it is…with Lise Wolff
2.  The Six Tissue States with Matthew Wood
3. Healing with Ghee with Lisa Fecarotta
4. The What, Why and How of Herbal Research with Shyla Earle

12:30-2:00 Break
Lunch and Dessert Buffet
1. Lunch Hour Plant Walk 12:30 to 1:15 with Cynthia Thomas
2. Lunch Hour Plant Walk 1:15-2:00 with Shyla Earle

2:00-3:30 Session Three
1. Winter Health Using Preventative Folk Medicine with Lise Wolff
2. The Art of Seeing: An Introduction to Botany for the Herbalist with Cynthia Thomas
3. That Settles it: Spasmolytics with Erica Fargione
4. Tincturing 101 with Jodi McKee

3:30-4:00 Break

4:00-5:30 Session Four
1. Doctrine of Signatures with Matthew Wood
2. Step up Your Salve Game with Erin Piorier
3. Photographing the Essence of Plants with Sharri Keller
4. Herbal Basics: Salves and Plant Identification with Jodi McKee


Read our instructor biographies here.  Or click on the links below to see their websites or blogs.

Jessie Belden

Shyla Earl

Erica Fargione

Lisa Fecarotta

Sharri Keller

Clare Gardner Nieto

Jodi McKee

Erin Piorier

Cynthia Thomas

Lise Wolff

Matthew Wood


Check back often. Workshops descriptions are forthcoming.

The Art of Seeing: An introduction to botany for herbalists with Cynthia Thomas

We will walk, look, and listen and start to get an “eye” for botany. You will learn some of the key characteristics to look for when identifying individual plants and their families. We will also talk about resources, including my favorite books. Bring a sketchbook (and if you like a camera and/or copy of Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide).

Digital Tools for Your Business with Clare Gardner Nieto

Are you interested in expanding digital capabilities for your business? Does having a “social media presence” sound too time-consuming or overwhelming? How do you manage client records? Provide information to your clients? Get paid? Track mileage? Maintain records for taxes?

As healers, our main focus is on the well-being of our clients and we want to spend as little time on business as possible. But adding digital tools to your business does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. In fact, it can save you oodles of time! Besides, as Millennials become a larger demographic of our practice, we need to keep up with their preference for digital access in order to stay viable and maintain our client base. In this session, Clare will walk you through her list of favorite digital tools, tips and tricks to increase your efficiency and bolster your online presence.

Doctrine of Signatures with Matthew Wood

Nature speaks to us if we have eyes to see and ears tohear.  She does not waste anything, and therefore every shape, color, and scent is significant.  The old “doctrine of signatures” can therefore tell us about the properties of plants, despite scientific animosity towards the idea.  Form does equal function.  This helps us understand the plant as a whole, a view which is often missed when we only look at the pieces, the constituents, and not at the constitution.

The Immune System: Not what you think it is… with Lise Wolff

If you think ‘fighting off’ a cold is the role of the immune system, think again! The immune system reflects our response to the world, both physically and emotionally.  This provocative class will shake up your understanding of how the immune system functions and what foods, herbs and flower essences make it healthy.  Hint: not Echinacea!

Intro to Herbal Energetics with Jessie Belden

Join Jessie Belden for an informative exploration in commonly used herbs and how to determine their uses simply by tasting them! Jessie will outline 6 flavors + 6 impressions in traditional western herbalism that help one to sense their medicinal action. This common sense knowledge will assist you in becoming more confident as an herbalist and decreasing your need to look in books to determine which herb for which issue. We will then build on this knowledge by discussing how we can better match plant to person through marrying our knowledge of the energetics of plants with the energetics of people.

Tasting of foods and herbs will be involved~ please let us know if you have any allergies or other needs we can tend to during this class.

Healing with Ghee with Lisa Fecarotta

This is the secret name of ghee:

“Tongue of the gods,” “navel of immortality.” We will proclaim the name of ghee; We will sustain it in this sacrifice by bowing low. These waves of ghee flow like gazelles before the hunter… Streams of ghee caress the burning wood. Agni, the fire, loves them and is satisfied. – Rig Veda

Ghee is mentioned many times in the Vedas the ancient yoga texts. It’s a simple food but has a powerful impact on our body, minds and spirits.

In this class we will learn:

  •   What ghee can do for our body, minds and spirits.
  •   How to make ghee
  •   How to use it as a medicinal carrier for Ayurvedic or other herbs
  •   How to incorporate into a fall cleansing program
  •   How to use some of the Ayurvedic herbs specific for womens health
Herbal Basics: Salves and Plant Identification Instructor with Jodi Mckee

Herbal Medicine is accessible to everyone!  Join us for a walk around the farm and learn to identify some of the many edible and medicinal plants that grow around us.  Then learn the simple techniques to turn fresh herbs into oils and ointments. Participants will make their own infused herbal oil. $5 supply fee payable to instructor. 

Lunch Hour Plant Walk with  Shyla Earle

If you’re hungry to meet the plants but don’t know where to start – start here!  Join an herbalist on a plant identification walk.  Meet some of the wild all-stars of Minnesota and learn a few of their most important uses.  Though we will stop often for identification, we’ll try to cover some ground.

Medicinal Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota with Erin Piorier

In this workshop, which will be a combo of plant walk  and lecture, we will focus on the woody plants who persist throughout the year. Many local trees are medicinal and tree medicine is abundant and versatile.  Trees may have medicinal bark, buds, blossoms, fruits and nuts. Many trees and shrubs have multiple medicinal parts. We will focus on identifying trees using bark, silhouette, leaf, flower and fruit.  We will discuss edibility, traditional and contemporary medicinal uses, folklore, toxicity and more, a special emphasis will be placed on understanding what and when to harvest from the tree when making medicine so you can plan your seasonal wildcrafting.

This class is suitable for all levels.  Beginners are welcome.  More experienced herbal students and medicine makers will certainly learn something new about the medicinal trees around us.

Photographing the Essence of Plants with Sharri Keller

Learn the tips and tricks to photograph and capture the essence of plants.  In this  photography workshop you will gain a foundational understanding of years worth of experience.  With a specific focus on the digital SLR cameras we will explore camera basics (ISO shutter, aperture), lens choices, lighting considerations, composition, photographing for blogging/websites, editing as well as get some field time photographing the plants.  This comprehensive class is open to phone and point & shoot cameras as the basic principles apply and the magic is truly in our unique relationship with the plants in just the right light.

Levels:  Beginner to experienced as we all can learn from each other

Bring:  camera & lenses

Seasonal Herb Walk (Over Lunch Break) with Cynthia Thomas

Take a walk with through the fields to identify and talk about the medicinal uses of the plants we find. Benefit from Cynthia’s many years of experience as a student of the herbs and practitioner. While we will make an effort to look at some of the less common plants and their uses, Cynthia will likely wax poetic about the most humble herbs as well.

The Six Tissue States with Matthew Wood

Nature changes and flows in simple patterns that we all recognize, such as hot and cold, damp and dry, light and dark, tense and relaxed, excess and deficiency.  The same is true for the body, and our health, and these are the same influences that plants must meet and survive.  Therefore, the plant has taken into the “poison,” the excess heat or cold, for instance, survived, and carried that power as a medicinal property.  We must learn to see patterns in Nature, the human body, and the plant properties.  Fortunately, the plant taste usually resembles the plant “energetic” properties.  In this class we will discuss the six tissue states (heat/excitation, cold/depression, dry/atrophy, damp/stagnation, tension and relaxation).  This class complements Jessie Belden’s class on plant tastes.

Step up Your Salve Game: Techniques, Raw Materials and Creative Thinking for Topical Preparations with Erin Piorier

One of the first things many herbal students learn to make is a classic salve made of infused herbal oil and beeswax. In this hands-on workshop we’ll explore variations on salve making.  Expanding the range of raw materials that you work with and playing around with a few different techniques, molds and container types, you can create a wide-range of targeted medicinal items and luxurious skin care preparations and cosmetics.  We’ll discuss additions like zinc oxide, herbal powders, clays, micas, glycerin, essential oils and premium fixed oils,  and we’ll sample a variety of preparations including anti-fungal ointment, diaper rash cream,  sunscreen, chest rub, lip balm and butter, massage bars and solid perfumes.  You’ll see that you are limited only by your own imagination! As a group we will make a topical preparation utilizing some of the ingredients we have discussed.   Bring a 1/2 or 1 oz salve container for your product.

Teas for Resilience with Erica Fargione

Come travel the world of herbal and folk traditions to find the teas and culinary herbs used for strength, endurance and recuperation for body and mind. From Islam to Old Wives, from the Orient to Turtle Island, traditions show us there is support for when life runs you down.

That Settles It with Erica Fargione

Spasmolytic or Antispasmodic herbs are key to helping relieve pain and discomfort. Often used in formulas with anti-inflammatory herbs, these herbs settle down the tissues, giving fast relief. Familiarize yourself with a number of spasmolytic herbs and look at their organ affinities and general actions.

The What, Why and How of Herbal Research with Shyla Earle

Shyla developed a surprising fondness for research while working on her thesis in the Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies program at St. Catherine University. Her passion for research motivates her to share her skill set with people interested in learning how to find, understand, and use research literature.

In this session, we will briefly discuss the field of research. Knowing basic research ideas will improve our search for herbal studies and understanding of the elements of good research. We will discuss tactics for seeking out studies and together we will look for herbal research. Participants can obverse database searches via video projection or bring a laptop for hands on experience. We will examine several studies to discuss their components, and compare them to identify quality research. We will learn basic terminology and how to understand study findings. A power point presentation and a printed resource list will be provided.

Tincturing 101 with Jodi McKee

Open to those of all abilities come spend this session learning all about the in’s and outs of tincture making. We will start with a little history and then progress to the how-tos and seasonality of tincture making. At the end finish with a mini herb walk where each participant will select an herb to go about making their own tincture to take home. $5 supply fee payable to the instructor

Winter Health Using Preventative Folk Medicine with Lise Wolff

Around the world, for thousands of years before Echinacea was used ad nauseum, many easily available herbs, foods and lifestyle habits encouraged people to stay robust and strong throughout the winter months.  This class will cover many of the easily available folk remedies, foods and herbs to keep you healthy throughout winter.





  1. Hi Nicole, Registration is not open yet but Lise and I are working on selecting our teachers and workshops for the 2016 festival. This year’s festival will be held on Sunday, September 18th.

    1. Hi Lira,
      Here’s the link. https://minnesotaherbalist.com/minnesotas-herbal-festival/minnesota-herbal-festival-registration/
      It’s on the main herbal festival page, but it’s one of those links you have to put your cursor over in order for it to illuminate. Sorry if that was confusing!

      Scroll down to pay via paypal and I will send you a confirmation email. Or print the page, fill it out and mail it with payment. Let me know if you have other questions.

  2. Is there scholarships or volunteering available to lower the cost of the ticket? Myself and two other women who have been teaching ourselves herbal medicine are very interested in coming, but can’t afford the price due to our low incomes.

    1. Hi Kelley, Preregistratn is not necessary. In fact, you can switch workshops mid-session if a particular class is not what you had in mind. Note that, you up may want to plan ahead with a few bucks cash for the tincture and oil/salve making class if you plan to attend those because there is a supply fee and you leave with a tincture or infused in for home use.

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