Minnesota’s Herbal Festival

Welcome to the Holistic Health and Herbal Education Festival!

***Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.  the 2020 Minnesota Herbal Festival is cancelled.  Check back! We hope to be back in 2021.***

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 2020 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.   The festival includes several local vendors of handmade herbal or wildcrafted products.

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

 16th Annual Minnesota Herbal Education Festival: Cancelled


***Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.  the 2020 Minnesota Herbal Festival is cancelled.  Check back! We hope to be back in 2021.***

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 20, 2020

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.

Registration is open.


 Schedule of Events

Subject to change

The Schedule will be provided in your welcome packet  that you will receive when you arrive at the festival. It is also available to print here.

8:30-9:00 Welcome Circle

9:00-10:30 Session One

  1.  Sage and Other Memory Herbs with Jane Hawley Stevens (Harvest House)
  2. Plant Walk with Lise Wolff (outside)
  3. The Consultation:  Skills and Considerations for Herbalists with Erin Piorier (Granary)
  4. Herbal Recipes with Emily Beck (Farmhouse)

10:30-11:00 break

11:00-12:30 Session two

  1.  Herbal First Aid with Lise Wolff (outside)
  2.  DIY Foraged Bitters with Betsy Nelson (outside)
  3.  Healing the Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis with Kathleen Wildwood (location TBA)
  4. Plants Can Smell?! The Evolution of the Plant Kingdom as Intelligent and Sentient with Carolyn Smith (outside)

12:30-2:00 Lunch and Dessert Buffet and Plant Walks

Enjoy a relaxed lunch/break period or take the second half of lunch to continue your learning in one of our two lunch time plant walks from 1:15 to 2:00 with Paige Swanson and an additional instructor to be announced soon!

2:00-3:30 Session Three

  1. The Extracellular Matrix, Holism, and Herbalism with Matthew Wood (outside)
  2. Herbs for Dental Health Kathleen Wildwood (Harvest House)
  3.  Easy Ways to Cook with Wild Edibles with Betsy Nelson (location TBA)
  4. We. Are.​ F​ a.mi.ly…. I Got All My Mustards With Me!   with Carolyn Smith  (outside)

3:30-4:00 Break

4:00-5:30 Session Four

  1.  The Immune System with Matthew Wood (outside)
  2.  Medicine Making Q&A with Lise Wolff (outside)
  3. Herbs for the New Mother and Baby with Erin Piorier (Granary)
  4.  Making Herbal Cough Syrup with Jane Hawley Seasons (Harvest House)


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

Emily Beck

Besty Nelson

Erin Piorier

Jane Hawley Stevens

Carolyn Smith

Paige Swanson

Kathleen Wildwood

Lise Wolff

Matthew Wood



The Consultation: Skills and Considerations for Herbalists with Erin Piorier

Working well with clients or friends and family is much more than knowing the herbal materia medica. This workshop will cover the elements of a consultation and effective, artful interview skills. We’ll discuss everything from the forms and paperwork to how to how to maintain your boundaries as a practitioner. We’ll pay particular attention to strategies for effective, directed questioning and eliciting useful information about symptoms, organ systems and history from your client. We will wrap up with an fun exercise analyzing cases taken from Erin’s practice.

DIY Foraged Bitters with Betsy Nelson

Betsy Nelson, Culinary herbalist, will guide you through making your own digestive/cocktail bitters  using foraged roots, plants, bark and berries.  We will explore what plants work great in bitters, what flavors work well together, and different seasonal combinations.  Each student will leave class with their own foraged root bitters to use at home.  We will use foraged ingredients such as burdock, yellow dock, dandelion leaves and root, prickly ash berries, black walnuts and more.  Please bring $5 for materials fee.

Easy ways to Cook with Wild Edibles

Betsy Nelson, Culinary herbalist, will demonstrate some recipes using common garden weeds and other wild edibles and show some practical ways to store and preserve them to have available for simple home cooked dishes.  We will sample the dishes and recipes will be included as well as the recipe for Betsy’s famous Nettle Cake!  Please bring $5 for materials fee

The Extracellular Matrix, Holism, and Herbalism with Matthew Wood

The matrix is the “space between the cells,” or the tissues.  It has the consistency of “glop” and is basically composed of sugar-protein polymers more or less identical towhat we call “mucilage” in herbalism.  This is not just stuffing, but is a communication system that ties the whole cellular world together so that it operates as “one mind.” It controls cell feeding, elimination, reproduction, and migration, disproving the vauntedcell theory of Rudolf Virchow upon which modern medicine and biology are founded upon.  It provides absolute proof of the holistic paradigm: on the cellular level the organism operates as a whole.  From this we gain new insights into the use of mucilages or demulcents specifically, as well as many other herbs that act on the matrix.

Herbal First Aid With Lise Wolff

Taking care of yourself, your family and friends can be so easy with just a small handful of plants. Learn about four miraculous but common plants that cover a ridiculous amount of life situations. Prepare to be amazed!

Herbs for Dental Health with Kathleen Wildwood

Many of our wild local green allies stand ready to help us create a healthy smile and fresh breath naturally. In this class we will discuss herbal remedies (including tinctures, poultices, rinses and more) and other natural tools for building strong teeth, promoting healthy gums, and maintaining everyday oral health. You will learn what you can do when you are faced with infected gums, loose or crumbling teeth, an upcoming dental implant, or persistent bad breath, and how to make a dentist your ally while keeping your power.

Healing the Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis with Kathleen Wildwood

Explore the powerful “forgotten organ” of human gut flora/fauna and its unique relationship with the brain and digestive system. Just as the soil microorganisms affect the health of our planet, our internal microbiota play important roles in our health and vitality. Kathleen will share information about the surprising roles microbes play in nutrient absorption, mood, cognition and pain. Come learn about this fascinating system and the herbs, foods and lifestyle choices that promote a healthy internal ecosystem.

Herbs for Mother and Baby with Erin Piorier

The period after birth is a very special time for both mother and baby.  It’s not uncommon to have some bumps in the road.  Herbs and other natural remedies can be  safe, gentle and effective allies in coping with common but uncomfortable  problems. In this class we will look at traditional practices from around the world that make for a smooth postpartum.  We’ll also be sure to cover many common concerns including postpartum anxiety and depression, hemorrhoids, low milk supply, colic, thrush, cord care and much, much more!  Bring your questions.

The Immune System and Herbalism with Matthew Wood

I started this study to augment my knowledge of the closely-linked lymphatic system, but quickly found that there were essentially no holistic writings on the subject because it had been discovered and explored in tiny bits and pieces using the typical reductionist (non-holistic) approach of medicine and science, and also, the system has only recently (c. 2000) been understood even in a piecemeal sense so there is still limited experience with it.  In this class we will go over the pieces: (1) oxidation, the universal basis of metabolism, (2) the inflammatory or arachidonic acid cascade and the use of essential fatty acids, (3) the complement system and cytokine storms, (4) proteases and protease-inhibitors, (4) cells and signals of the immune system, (5) mast cell activation syndrome, (6) immunodeficiency (a very general term), (7) overall regulationof the anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory pathways by the adrenal cortex, (8) the strange effect of the mushroom beta glucans, and (9) a general overview of herbal remedies for the immune system.  Also, allied systems: lymph, liver, GI, and microbiome.

Making Herbal Cough Syrup with Jane Hawley Stevens

Get prepared for the unpleasant side effects of winter, the cold season. We will cover the different aspects of an effective cough syrup, how to make a syrup and incorporate the herbs. Which herbs to choose from and why will be discussed in detail. Learn the terminology and herbs that address these common cold symptoms: anticatarrhals, antitussive, expectorants, and demulcents. Not to worry- no test will follow, but you will gain insight into making your own herbal remedies that suit your family’s needs.

Medicine Making Q&A with Lise Wolff

Lise will be available to answer your medicine making questions! This is not an official start to finish instructional class. It’s a chance to answer your questions about remedies you would like some guidance on how to make, what went wrong, what works best (in her opinion), which parts to gather, etc.  Lise’s advice is based on 23 years of making medicine for her practice in South Minneapolis.

Plants Can Smell?! The Evolution of the Plant Kingdom as Intelligent and Sentient with Carolyn Smith

Herbalists know that plants are more than just objects in the world’s background, but did you know they have the ability for sensing light, sound, smell, touch, and even remembering? Understanding these capacities can help us relate to the ways plants are intelligent in their own right and truly antecessors of humans on this planet with nothing but wisdom to share. In this class we will touch on the topic of plant evolution and their development of sensory and intelligence capacities to widen our perspective and appreciation for plants as strong and capable with so much to teach.

Plant Walk with Lise Wolff

Plant walks are Lise’s favorite classes to teach.  Come stroll and be amazed at how your common weeds are capable of helping you and those you love (or at least like).

Sage and Other Memory Herbs with Jane Hawley Stevens

Did you know by age 65, 1 in 8 Americans will suffer from severe cognitive decline, and by age 80, an astonishing 1 in 2 will. Powerful yet mysterious herbs dressed in hues of green, and enchanting textures offer remedies to improve and sharpen the function of the brain. It will be worth your small investment to incorporate this knowledge into your lifestyle.

We. Are.​ F​ a.mi.ly…. I Got All My Mustards With Me!   with Carolyn Smith

The ​Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) is a family of plants commonly known as the Mustard family. There are many varied members of this plant group that we know and love (or love to hate) in our food and medicines. In this class we will look at different varieties of mustards (famous and infamous!), their botanical classification qualities, cover their shared and different uses in medicine and food, and discuss growing characteristics and the roles they play in ecological systems. We will also get up and look around the grounds to find mustard plants to ID and taste!

Check back often. Workshops descriptions are forthcoming.


  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. I’m very interested in attending please keep me informed so I can register when it opens up
    Thank you

  3. 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.

  4. Hi there,
    I’m curious if y’all have any work-exchange or volunteer options for reduced registration? I’m really hoping to be able to attend, learn, and participate in my herbal community!

    Thank ya kindly!!

  5. I’d love to bring my 14 yr old son. Would he be considered a child upon registration, or would I need to purchase a ticket for him as well. Thanks!

    1. Hi Val,
      Kids who are coming to play around ouside or babysit younger kids or babies in arms are free. If your son is coming as a participant to take part in classes and workshops, please register and buy a ticket. Let me know if you have other questions! You can reach me directly (where I respond a lot faster) at herbalist.erin@outlook.com

  6. Hello,

    My name is Rachel Delphine Berndt and I am a bioregional herbalist in Des Moines, Iowa. I have been writing for Plant Healer Magazine since 2015 and have taught various classes at both the Good Medicine Confluence and the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference.

    I would love to apply to teach at the next Minnesota Herb Festival. Any information you can provide me with as far as when and where I can apply would be wonderful.

    Thank you!

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