The translation of our name literally means ‘herbalists without borders’and refers to a new, international network of herbalists and medicinal plant related professions; teachers, botanists, naturalists, gardeners, wild-crafters and producers who are linking together to exchange ideas, visits, plant information, and more.
Yet another social network, I hear you saying… and in a way yes, but on the other hand this one is run by practicing teachers and herbalists themselves. All information appears on the website in English, French and soon Spanish, meaning that we are going beyond language barriers. A strong group of representatives from different countries is beginning to form, providing specific information, links, and advice about herbalism in the country they represent.
As we are working on this project at the same time as our everyday jobs of teaching and running the herbal school in Lyon, things have had to evolve quite slowly. We built the website ourselves with the deadline of Herbfest 2012 in the UK as we were teaching there this year and really wanted the site online before attending; it went online the day we left for the UK.
The main menu includes rubrics on herbal schools, legislation, plant pages, network representatives, a seed bank, a professional directory, and a forum. On the secondary menu there is access to monthly articles, news, and a diary/notice board.
The idea is that members send in as much information as they can in order for us to relay it onto the site in the three languages. For example, we need up to date information and links on legislation, and with your experiences and observations of the plants featured on the plant pages…at the moment they are Yarrow (Achilleae millefolium), Mugwort (Artemis vulgaris), Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).
We need someone or a group in each country to create a medicinal plant seed bank. Joan, our French seed bank man, is available to help you start this and follow the right protocol. Imagine how exciting and what a great tool it will be when HSF has its own seed banks all over the world, helping to protect wild medicinal plants and exchanging with gardens and herbalists internationally.
We need herbalists to act as links for the country they are in (see the network rubric) and we need your short articles for the online article pages and longer, more in-depth articles for the quarterly downloadable HSF magazine, the first issue is planned for December 2012.
That sounds like an awful lot of “we needs” but there are an awful lot of us out there and by linking, sharing, and working together we will be giving ourselves a force that crosses country barriers, language barriers, legislative barriers, a force that comes from the heart and is based on the need to share.
Personally, I see “Herbalists sans Frontières” as a way of keeping the contact and information flowing between fellow herbalists when we are all in our separate corners of the universe. After the wonderful moments shared together at last month’s Herbfest in the UK, getting back to France felt a bit lonely. But by working together and exchanging experiences for the plant pages with Nikki Darrell and Laura Yarham, this energy of “togetherness” has remained.
Women’s cooperative for Shea butter in Burkino Fasso
The network is financed by the herbal School in Lyon as a non-profit section of the school. Please join now and encourage everyone you know to register before November in order to benefit from a year’s free membership and help us to fill the directory. After November there will be a small, yearly charge of 30 euros for professionals and 15 euros for herbalist students and supporters in order to help with the running costs (Subscription fees do not apply to non-westernised countries). All members will receive the quarterly magazine, professional members will be able to add their profile to the directory and students and professionals can post notices and access the forum.
As the site is very young, we are dealing as quickly as we can with any teething problems that may occur. Please do let us know if you have any problems signing in, etc. We are also working with our webmaster in order to make the directory is as simple and usable as possible… please be patient as the site evolves.
Each one of us is precious and unique, and by sharing and coming together as a group, each herbalist’s uniqueness can add to the whole.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Cathy has been working and living in rural France for the last 20 years. She obtained the herbalist diploma from Lyons School of Medicinal Plants where she now teaches botany field study, healing with plants and herbal gardening. Cathy is one of the founding members and coordinators of the new multi-language herbal network Herbalistes sans Frontières.