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|Host: Sheri Frey
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Our Next Show: Sunday March 9, 2014
Guest: Kami McBride| Living Awareness Institute
I went on my first official herb walk when I was 8 years old as part of a nature camp that was held on the creek that I grew up on. I remember everything that camp counselor said about the plants that afternoon, my life's path just opened up before me on that hot, Sacramento Valley summer afternoon. Like it was yesterday, I recall the excitement about learning the uses of Bay, Dogwood, and Yellow Dock. Since that time I have been obsessed with learning how to do all things related to plants.
From the time that I was a very young child my family would spend the spring and fall seasons fishing and diving at the Mendocino Coast. Every summer we camped in remote areas of the Sierra Mountains. Our Sierra trips involved going into the forest and making our own camp ground. We would spend several weeks fishing, swimming, hiking, and in the evenings we sang and told stories by the fire. From my childhood experiences of harvesting food from the sea and sleeping under the mountain stars, I learned to love the Earth and her abundance.
Every spring and fall after the first rains I would go with my parents and grandparents to the hills above Vacaville and harvest wild mushrooms. I can still smell the pans full of frying mushrooms from this semi-annual family ritual mushroom feast. From those hills and my family I learned of the joy and spirit of hunting wild foods.
My Grandfather was an ecologist and the first Parks and Recreation Director in Solano County, California. In fact, he started the very nature camp that I experienced that first herb walk. In 1967 he said that the problem with the youth is that they don't spend enough time in nature (what would he think now?). So he created a summer camp that allowed the children to spend lots of time in nature. He worked to save open space and preserve the creeks and trees. From him I learned a deep respect for the Earth.
In my early 20's I decided I wanted to be of service and help make the world a better place. I went to work on Capitol Hill where I thought one could have the most influence in making change. I worked as a legislative congressional aid and quickly learned that I didn't do so well amid the stress and tension there. I made the connection that positive change in the world begins with how we live our personal lives. I decided to nurture balance and health in my own life and create change from there.
In the 1980's I began studying various holistic health modalities. Yoga, massage, meditation, shamanism, Biofeedback and herbal medicine. From spending so much time in nature as a child, I was naturally drawn to herbal medicine. Herbal gardening and wild plant harvesting became my passion. Meditation and shamanic techniques gave me the tools to allow the forest to be my classroom.
I attended my first class on herbs and Women's Health in 1986 with Rosemary Gladstar at the California School of Herbal Studies. I fell in love with the plants at her school and the seeds of creating my own herbal courses were planted.
Issues of Women's Health have been at the center of my teaching and practice. When I was 19 years old I had a tumor surgically removed from my pituitary gland. It was the result of having taken a very strong birth control pill that is no longer used. This personal history has inspired me to continually search for healthier ways to approach the female experience.
At about the same time I had this surgery a very close family friend died in her early 20's as a result of the side-effects of an asthma medication that is no longer on the market. I was young and the tragedy of this experience had a marked effect on me. I saw that what happened to her and my surgery were both a result of damaging and needless medications. I started to notice that most of my elders were taking drugs to counteract side-effects from other drugs. All of this propelled me to ask the question, "Is there another way?"
I was raised with a mainstream symptom suppressive approach to health care, listen to your doctor and take this pill if you don't feel well. I had never even heard of herbal tea, much less the concept of holistic health.
However the synergy of the power of my feelings around my young friends tragic death, coupled with asking the question, "Is there another way?" allowed for the opening of a new awareness for me. Information about complimentary medicine started to just appear in my life. I wondered why nobody had taught me about this before and pursued everything with an insatiable hunger for the knowledge that had been lacking.
In the early 1980's, becoming an herbalist was not in the scope of what was possible as a 'career option'. Natural remedies and healthy living were not in the main stream awareness like they are now. My parents and grandparents were very upset that I had a college education that I threw out the window to study healing plants and gardening.
I had no idea what I was doing, I just followed my passion and what interested me the most. At the time, this path made no sense. There weren't any 'jobs', nobody really knew what I was talking about when I tried to explain what I was doing, yet I followed this calling, this upwelling in my heart. I fell deeply in love with the Earth and the human body and studied everything possible about how to work with nature for healing the body. Now you can get a Master's degree in what I did.
I travelled anywhere I could apprentice or study with anybody teaching herbal medicine, including graduating from the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in 1992. It is now my pleasure to help pass on what has been given to me to help revive the civic art of home herbal care.
When people ask, what is your background in herbal medicine? The answer is a long one and a lifetime journey. Herbal medicine is more than the study of plant constituents. It is a study of the medicine of the earth and how we interact with the elements. Everything that we do to improve our awareness about the natural world helps us to better understand the process of how to live in more health and balance on the earth.
About the Host:
Since 1979 Sheri has been co-owner and vice president of ARBICO Organics. ARBICO Organics produces and markets organic and natural products for home, business, garden, lawn, farm and pets. Products include beneficial insects and organisms, fertilizers and soil amendments, weed and disease controls, composting supplies, insecticides, critter controls, horse care, traps, lures, pheromones, botanicals and more.
Sheri is on the committee for the Organic Certification of Growers of Arizona. Her memberships and associations include and are not limited to OFPANA (Organic Farm Producers of North America), the ANBP (Association of Natural Bio-control Producers), the ANA (Arizona Nursery Association), the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers Association), BIRC (Bio-Integral Resource Center), The IOBC (International Organization of Biological Control), and the AAIE (Association of Applied Insect Ecologists), and OMRI (Organic Materials Research Institute).
She works with major universities and their cooperative extensions and researchers. Speeches are made on a nationwide and international basis. She has been asked to speak at major conferences covering the topics of Biological Control, Low Input Sustainable Agriculture, Integrated Pest Management, Impact of Agriculture on the Environment, Eco System Pest Management and more. Her publications include press releases, catalogs, guides for organic agriculture, and handbooks.
ARBICO Organics specializes in Low Input Sustainable Agricultural Techniques (LISA) emphasizing organic farming inputs, bio-intensive pest controls, pro-environmental fertilizers and plant foods, composting, weed and disease control, as well as preventive management.
For over 33 years ARBICO Organics has provided professional consulting and technical assistance worldwide. As an industry leader in the implementation of sustainable and organic agricultural programs, ARBICO Organics offers natural solutions to contemporary agricultural needs. ARBICO Organics provides the way to grow lush landscapes and healthful food within the balance of nature without the use of synthetic chemicals.
When the proper nutrients and minerals are made available to the soil, it will provide the food that gives life to the plant and ultimately to us.