2018 Ethnobotany & Traditional Skills Course

Take a look at our 2017 Course Photos

This program is designed for those with a love of plants who want to delve deeper and gain skills and knowledge about the traditional uses of the native plants of the Pacific Northwest. This is a focused mentorship program following the seasonal rounds of the People of Cascadia, using the book of that name as a framework for our studies. We will gain and share skills, harvest our own materials, work on group and individual projects, visit museums and cultural centers, invite traditional knowledge guests to share knowledge, while exploring Cascadia from sea to steppe, and working on hands-on projects. The book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer, serves as a guide during this course, with a beautiful blend of indigenous and scientific perspective.

Heidi Bohan has been working in tribal communities and teaching to the public for the past 22 years; as a professional woodworker for 15 years prior to that; and with plants personally and professionally for all of her life as an organic gardener, back-to-the- lander in the 70’s, and in plant propagation nurseries since the 80’s. She is the author of ‘The People of Cascadia’, ‘Starflower Native Plant ID Cards’, and ‘Journey Plant Medicines Cards’, along with numerous other related writings. She teaches Ethnobotany as adjunct faculty for Bastyr University (8 years), Snoqualmie Tribe (11 years), Alderleaf Wilderness School (5 years), Bullock Brothers Homestead (5 years), Wilderness Awareness School and numerous other organizations around the Pacific Northwest. To learn more please go to www.heidibohan.com

Heidi has also been focusing on her own Scottish and Irish ancestry, and recently northern Spain, making journeys there to immerse in the land and culture, this year bringing a group of students with her on an ‘Ireland Ethnobotany Exploration’. This work has added depth and authenticity to the relationships between her own indigenous knowledge and those of this land of Cascadia. Appropriate interactions with the environment and use of traditional knowledge runs a constant thread throughout our work.

When? The course runs January- September on the second weekend of the month, with a combination of Workshops and Ecosystem Explorations. Additionally there will also be optional Project Work evenings, along with optional impromptu expeditions for additional learning and skills building time.

Dates for 2018: Second Saturday & Sunday of each month- January through September
Jan 13&14; Feb 10&11; March 10 & 11; April 14&15, May 12&13; June 9&10; July 14&15; August 10, 11&12 (overnight expedition); September 8 & 9

Saturday will generally be Ecosystem Exploration days, beginning at 9:00, to explore plant communities and cultural sites around the region, visit others, and harvest for our projects. Sundays will generally be Workshop days, beginning at 10:00, focused on hands-on projects for skills and knowledge building. These days may flip depending on weather forecasts, and specific projects. Optional project work evenings will be scheduled at least once per month when we can work on incomplete projects.

In keeping with a mentorship experience and as an added bonus for this program, occasional optional ‘impromptu’ gathering expeditions and cultural opportunities will be offered throughout the course as opportunities arise with Heidi Bohan.

Where? Workshops will take place at the historic Hjertoos House Studio in the Snoqualmie Valley, and various other special locations within 30-40 minutes of Seattle.

What can you expect?

You will learn about native plants and the ethnobotanical uses of the plants of the Pacific Northwest:

  • Plant identification with a focus on important traditional plants
  • Traditional and contemporary uses of plants for food, medicine, fiber and ceremony
  • Traditional land management techniques
  • Elements of traditional ecological knowledge
  • Phenology (seasonal sequence of flowering, ripening) and seasonal indicators
  • Plant communities around the Cascadia region from seashore to sagebrush steppe,
  • Historical lay of the land
  • Rare and at risk plants and habitats, with a focus culturally important plants and landscapes

You will gain skills and knowledge about:

  • Wild harvest of plants following the seasonal round
  • Traditional foods preparation and preservation techniques
  • Plant medicines- traditional and contemporary
  • Wood working and tool-making
  • Plant fiber processing and weaving
  • Basketry and mats
  • Pigments and natural dyes
  • Cultural elements of food, shelter, clothing

You will make some cool stuff! Example of potential projects:

  • Pack harvest baskets from a variety of materials
  • Traditional tools such as awls, digging sticks, cooking tongs and utensils
  • Traditional foods meal with camas, fern, biscuit root, acorn, wild greens and more
  • Cedar bark processing for clothing, containers and more
  • Nets and net bags from nettle, dogbane and other plant fibers
  • Plant presses and pressings, herbarium sheets and journals
  • Journey plant medicine kits from traditional plants

You will journey to important cultural landscapes:

  • Vestige and historic camas prairies and oak savannahs
  • Seashore and estuarine island habitats
  • Old growth forests and bogs
  • Sagebrush steppe and ponderosa pine forests
  • Montane meadows, bogs and forests
  • Columbia River Gorge and Eastside
  • Cultural centers and museum archives

Who is this designed for? This course is geared for people with some previous plant knowledge and designed for a wide array of skill levels from novice to higher skill and knowledge. Current registrants are running towards higher plant knowledge levels and a combination of novice to advanced skills level, so you will be in good company.

Program Fee:

$1600 for 10 months, Max group size 10
Includes a course binder, Books- The People of Cascadia, Bohan, Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer, and Journey Plant Medicine Cards, Bohan
$250 Deposit holds your spot followed by a personal interview

Buy Now Button $250 Deposit


Willow at studioweb Studio september 2Classroom 1web






Classes are based out of Carnation, Washington in the heart of the Snoqualmie Valley, at the historic Hjertoos House with a studio and outdoor classroom spaces and lots of nearby trails, natural and cultural areas.  There are possible overnight accommodations available at Carnation Tree Farm Barn Loft, Tolt McDonald Park yurts, local AirBnB’s, and others by arrangement.