New Home Forums Course Ideas & Outlines Bringing Wild Plants into your Life

9 replies, 7 voices Last updated by  Alexis Burnett 8 years, 3 months ago
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    Alexis Burnett

    Hello Everyone

    I hope your all moving along up the mountain in a good way.   Though I have not posted much to the campfires in a while, I have been diligently making progress and getting super excited about creating this e-course.   I have cut and pasted the last exercise I finished into this post below.  At the bottom there are a few questions that I am asking myself and need to think a bit more about before moving forward and commiting to this outline.   I would love to get a little feedback on what people think.

    In Light

    1. Identify the 3-12 specific transformations that need to happen to get your customer to where they want to go (the ultimate transformation

    1) Basic botany and  How to use Newcomb’s Field Guide
    2) Poisonous Plants and How to stay safe
    3) Edible plants and Foraging (10 plants, 5 plants?)
    4) Medicinal Plants and their actions  (10 plants, 5 plants?)
    5) Utilitarian plants – Crafts, wilderness living skills (5 plants, 3 plants?)
    6) Ethical wildcrafting
    7) Drying and storing Herbs
    8) Incorporating plants into your lifestyle
    9) Wrapping the bundle

    Extras and things to include:

    – Recipes/Plant Monographs
    – Caretaking/stewardship
    – Top 10 list
    – Trees and their uses

    – Next Steps……

    1. Write a brief description of each of those milestones. 

    1) Introduction to Working with Plants
    This will be a short introduction to what it looks like to be confident working with Plants for Food, Medicine and Utilitarian uses (crafts/wilderness living skills).   It will serve to inspire the students and give them a glimpse of what they can work towards and achieve by the end of the course.
    2)  Poisonous Plants
    Here we will look at some of the common poisonous plants in North America and how to identify them.  We will also dispel some of the common myths around poisonous plants and how to stay safe when harvesting from the wild. 
    3) Edible Plants and Foraging
    In this module, I will go over some basic info on how to forage and work with edible plants in a safe manner.   Sharing tips on what to harvest and at what time of year, how to prepare, etc….   We will also include some recipes and pdf handouts too.  
    4)  Medicinal Plants and their Actions
    We will look at a number of common and safe to use medicinal plants and discuss how they are used.   We will give a brief intro to herbal medicine and talk about how the herbs work in our bodies (herbal actions)
    5)  Utilitarian plants – Crafts, wilderness living skills
    In this module we will look at how to use various plants for crafts and wilderness living skills.  Some of the things we will talk about will be basket making, cordage (rope making), fire making (fire by friction), shelter construction, etc…..   Plants can and are used for so many things in our everyday lives regardless of where we live. 
    6) Ethical Wildcrafting
    In this lesson we will look at what it takes to harvest plants from the wild in a sustainable and regenerative way.  How can we harvest plants in a way that leaves the area more healthy than we found it.  Making sure to not only ‘take’ from the land, but to give back in the way of the caretaker (become a steward).  By talking about this and giving examples the student will learn and  begin to develop their own set of ethical wildcrafting guidelines. 
    7)Drying and Storing Herbs 
    We will discuss and show the students what to do with the plants that they harvest after they return home from the field.  From creating a full on drying room in their house to simply drying herbs in a very simple way in a small space or apartment.  We will also talk about how to store herbs for future use and how long they will last before losing their potency. 
    8) Incorporating Plants into your lifestyle
    This section will be filled with tips and tricks about how to incorporate plants into your everyday.   Simple examples and exercises that will set you up for success in gaining a deeper understanding and working relationship with the plants. 
    9) Wrapping the Bundle
    This will be the last section that brings the whole course together.   Synthesizing all of the lessons up to this point and giving the students confidence to practice these skills on their own.   Helping them to explore their next steps on this journey  while honouring and celebrating how far they have come.
    1) How many plants in each section to cover?  I was thinking 5-10 plants for Edible and the Same for Medicinal and perhaps 3 for Utilitarian uses. 
    2) Do I break the plant teachings/videos up into a few different modules? Even with 5 plants per section, I would need to break that down into 2-3 modules/lessons I think.
    3) Do I get rid of the utilitarian section?  This could be a separate course on it’s own. 
    4) Note to self:  Keep it simple and straight forward – I will be building more advanced courses. 


    Karryn Olson-Ramanujan

    Hi Alexis,

    I LOVE this and can see your course filling a needed niche!

    Who is your ideal client? I ask because I know that many folks who want to forage live in urban or suburban areas where one main concern regarding safety is “has it been sprayed with pesticides or growing in toxic environment…?”… so I thought I’d share that, but if you know your clients won’t be in these situations, it might be a moot point.

    Regarding your outlined transformations, I’m wondering if you would like to frame them differently? I ask because the folks I know need to feel have basic botany demystfied and made fun… The transformation they go through is from feeling daunted and like it will be too hard and sciency TO feeling confident and happy with botany. See the difference? This takes our content from a list of topics to transformations.
    I suggest this also because when we think about what those pains are that our customer feels, we can really frame our outreach copy to they see immediately that your course is different cuz they will feel welcome to talk about feeling daunted and vulnerable with the learning curve…. Again, if that’s your ideal client… If you are aiming at folks who are already outdoorsy then, this may not be a pain they feel.

    Regarding your question on the number of plants… Hmm that’s tricky.. folks often feel more is better but as we know, there’s a depth of learning for each plant so more isn’t necessarily a better course. One suggestion is to find 5 plants that you can use in the edible, medicinal and utilitarian, so that folks get to know those five in many in-depth ways, they visit them over and over. Then you can add a few more plants in that only show up in one or two categories to flesh it out….

    I would totally want and id guide to take out in the field, immediate access to you if I have questions when or right after foraging, pretty & functional (right format–either recipe card style or full page) recipes and how-tos,  a forum to share pics of the cool things made, etc.

    Loving the plant tribe!



    Bradley Morris
    Mountain Guide

    Nice to see you around the campfire @EarthTracks Alexis!

    This is a great outline. You seem to have really dialled in the details for each module. For your lessons, you can definitely create a really predictable pattern for them to receive. I’d imagine each individual lesson would be like a “medicine bundle.”

    Included in the bundles would be (just idea):

    • The video lesson,
    • PDF handout with a picture of the plant,
    • Perhaps a recipe,
    • Harvesting guide,
    • How to look out for look-alikes
    • What else would you imagine?

    This is going to be so valuable. There are a lot of people getting into this (at least where i am on the west coast. Myself included)

    As for the number of plants to cover…
    What is a good starting point for people?
    Imagine if they could go out into the forest and find 7 or 10 plants that are edible and medicinal. That’d be a win, right?

    As you said:

    Note to self:  Keep it simple and straight forward – I will be building more advanced courses. 

    Great suggestions made by @Karryn too. I personally like the idea of going deep with a smaller number of plants. Could even include some history lessons on how the indigenous/first nations people used those plants traditionally. 

    Stoked to see this coming alive!



    Jessica Antonelli

    Love your class @earthtracks! I know so many people who would be into this. I think that, personally, the less is more approach would be best as far s how many plants to cover in your lessons. I would rather know and actually remember details about 5 plants than kind of know (and forget and confuse) 10. Can’t wait to watch this course evolve!


    Bradley Morris
    Mountain Guide

    I’m definitely stoked for this course too @jescantonelli! I am in agreement with you, less feels like more with this first version. I’d rather go deep with five plants and medicines than skim the surface with ten.


    Bradley Morris
    Mountain Guide

    Speaking of which, I am getting excited as I see the nettle shoots starting to come up!!! Yummmmy.


    Deb Robson

    @earthtracks, just chiming in with agreement with above comments.

    5 plants per; you can have advanced course(s) and/or bonus modules (although I’d keep bonuses slim, too).

    And based on where I live, the bit about non-plant toxins came immediately to mind before I read @karryn ‘s comment. We are on an interface between semi-urban and very wild, and in *both* locations there is risk of human-added toxicity in some locations.


    Penny Claringbull

    This looks fabulous @earthtracks!

    Your very first section, Introduction to Working with Plants, sounds like it contains stories designed to motivate and inspire confidence. But the title sounds a bit dry – maybe a title that is more evocative would be good:

    Stories of wild plant people
    A wildcrafter’s life
    Living a plant-filled life
    Introduction to living a plant-filled life
    And so forth…

    The other titles say what they are but I felt that the first one could mean anything from safety procedures to basic botany.

    Also I endorse the other comments about less is more – there is so much content here it could fill loads of courses so keeping it simple would help the participants get a strong grasp rather than a weaker overview.

    Good luck with it!


    Chris Gilmour

    Hey Lex, @earthtracks

    Great start, Can’t wait to touch base over the phone and chat in a bit more detail. I really liked the suggestion @karryn made. What if you picked only 5 plants for the whole course that each had a edible, medicinal and utilitarian use. This could be your basic course the covers the wider spectrum and general principles in working with plants on all levels.

    Could use: Nettle (cordage), Pine (baskets), burdock (hand drill stock), goldenrod (woven mat), Sumac (straw or maple syrup spigot), Could you use dandelion as a plant dye??

    I know that also limits you from using some of the most basic edibles you often teach first as they may lack the same utilitarian uses but is could be a cool theme that really shows the diversity and gifts of the plant world.

    From there you could have a basic and advanced course on each of those threads: edible, medicinal, utilitarian

    I also really like what @pennyclaringbull said about including stories around:
    – Stories of wild plant people
    – A wildcrafter’s life


    Alexis Burnett

    Hello Everyone

    Thanks to everyone for all the thoughts and advice. Much appreciated. @karryn @bradleytmorris @jescantonelli @robson @pennyclaringbull @chrisg

    I’ve been away teaching for most of the last two weeks and am ready to jump back into the planning of this course. I’m super excited to keep re-fining it and have it evovlve into a super solid program for beginners that welcomes them in to the beautifuol world of being with, working with and learning about plants.

    I’m totally going to include a section on where and when to harvest, as well as areas to stay away from (because of toxins, pollution, etc….). These are important points to cover, especially for the beginner. I also want to make sure the course comes across as ‘open and inviting’ to beginners, especially those who live in more urban environments. I have a few ideas up my sleeve to make it engaging, playful and fun. I’m going to go over each module and make sure it has a ‘catchy’ title and feels open and engaging for people, while also being easy to understand.

    I’m feeling like I am going to scale things back a little and go with a smaller number of plants and cover them in extensive detail. As well as give the student time and exercises to get to know these plants in the field, thorugh research and sketching/photographing. This way it will not seem too overwhelming to beginners and also allow me to create some more advanced training in the future. I envision this first course to be sort of a ‘jumping off’ point, where people can choose to go deeper and commit to a larger course once finishing the first one.

    Anyways, just wanted to respond and say thanks to everyone for sharing your advice. I’m stoked to keep moving on this and letting the creative process roll.

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