Herbalist Carol Wade Opens School of Herbal Studies
By Sarah Howery Hart
Earth Island Herbs owner, Carol Wade, graduate of the Herbalist Therapeutics Research Foundation, has been an herbalist and nutritional counselor for over 20 years. She has a private practice; was involved with the Community Supported Agriculture program; started an herbal products line, and, now, she’s sharing her knowledge in yet another way. On the grounds of the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai she planted a garden for meditation, strolling, dreaming, and now, it has also become a classroom for her new venture, The Ojai School of Herbal Studies.
Originally from Texas, Wade, a Registered Herbalist trained as a health educator and nutritional counselor through the Gary Null Health and Nutrition Program, moved to Ojai in 1998. Upon first visiting family, here, Wade says she and her husband both exclaimed, “This is it. This is where I want to live.” She adds, “At that point we had four kids, a dog, and we both worked for ourselves, so it was like a leap of faith.”
Wade informed a friend and spiritual advisor about this impending leap. “He told us not to worry, that we all live in a sea of grace, and that totally made it all right for me.”
That leap of faith resulted in a private practice, which she named Sea of Grace, and in 2012, the fulfilment of one of Wade’s long-time dreams, the establishment of her Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden. Last month, she fulfilled another dream by opening The Ojai School of Herbal Studies.
Through the school, Wade’s 288-hour, 18-month course begins with terminology, anatomy and physiology and the safe and effective use of herbs. Students then learn the history and culture related to using herbs in conjunction with health, including which herbs support which physiological systems. Other components include the preparation of tinctures, lotions, and other products; planting and plant cultivation; and even diet and exercise. Students spend time in both the garden and indoor classrooms.
They meet with actual clients, too, and Wade says, “We do case studies. The students learn how to get the information needed to best help the person in front of you, and how to keep their files.” She adds that she also teaches the importance of continued learning. “Part of what they need to do is to continually educate themselves by going to conferences and taking more classes. That’s part of what my students will learn.”
There are experience for the more casual learner, too,
Wade’s guided Eco Tours through her gardens, where she provides an overview of both native and regionally adapted plants, including medicinal plants’ historic cultural uses, such as white sage, used by the local Chumash. Participants complete the day by creating their own souvenir herbal product.
In spite of Wade’s line of work, she says, “I don’t think herbal remedies should replace other kinds of healing modalities, but rather become a part of the compliment of choices that people have.” However, she says herbal remedies constitute an important player. “This is information passed down from generations. The chain was broken in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but there has always been an undercurrent of people who kept these things alive.” Now, with The Ojai School of Herbal Studies, she is helping her students learn and pass on this information.
Wade considers Ojai a good place for her work with herbs on a number of levels. “When we came to Ojai, there was a lot of welcome and openness to exploring who you are. And, it’s sunny; it’s beautiful. It’s different here in terms of the seasons, when to plant, what to plant. In a way winter is spring for the native plants here. This environment is like living in a cornucopia of gardening experiences.”