Staff Directory

Co-Directors

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Betzy Bancroft, RH(AHG) is a teacher, clinical herbalist, gardener, craftsperson and environmentalist who’s had a deep appreciation for the magic of plants since childhood. As VCIH co-director and core faculty, Betzy provides the earth element to the organization’s staff. Plants are truly her friends, and she feels ever inspired by the natural world—all its varied beings and the amazing interconnections and beauty that make up the great web of life. Read More...

In 1987 she began formal study at Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine (now David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies) and went on to teach herbal pharmacy, field botany and other subjects as an assistant instructor at the school. Lucky to be in the only class of David’s that continued for 3 years, Betzy went on to complete two graduate courses in clinical herbalism with him, as well.

Still an avid student, she has taught classes in herbal medicine, wild edible plants and the medicinal uses of food throughout the Northeast for over two decades, including major conferences such as Northeast Organic Farming Association, Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Conference, the American Herbalists Guild Symposia and the New England Women’s Herbal Conference. Betzy was a part time instructor at the Tracker School for 7 years, specializing in edible wild plants and the physical languages of plants. Teaching there enabled her to take many classes in primitive skills, and she happily maintains connection to that community by teaching at the ROOTS School Rendezvous.

Betzy currently serves on the United Plant Savers’ Advisory Board. Her experience also includes over a decade in the herbal product industry as staff herbalist and general manager for Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc., a manufacturer of quality herbal extracts and other herbal products. Her favorite tasks at H&A were working with growers and the herbs they sent, and teaching workshops for natural food store personnel and customers.

Working at H&A made it possible for Betzy to attend numerous herb conferences. She’s also taken weekend or multi-weekend courses with a number of respected herbalists, including Amanda McQuade-Crawford and the late William LeSassier, two teachers who have particularly inspired her.

Practicing in the Western energetic tradition of herbal medicine, Betzy has been influenced by the Eclectic and other botanic physicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries in this country, and deeper back to the traditions of Europe. Her focus is on the common threads between all ancient medical systems, which ultimately lead to Nature itself–the four basic elements and the qualities intrinsic to them. Helping students and clients recognize the Nature of herbs, peoples’ constitutions and imbalances is a key part of her approach.

Betzy loves to introduce others to her green friends, to share the herbal wisdom she feels very blessed to have learned. Her goal is to help students and clients understand the plants’ “personalities” and relate to them as fellow living beings and guides to better health. Close

Larken Bunce, MS is a clinical herbalist, educator, gardener, writer, and photographer deeply inspired by a life-long love affair with plants. Her approach to herbal medicine is equally rooted in science and spirit, novel practice and tradition, clinic and garden, reflecting her diverse experiences over 20 years in the field. Her work is primarily informed by Western herbal medicine, classical Chinese medicine, whole-food nutrition, mind-body and narrative medicines, and social justice advocacy. Larken is passionate about accessible and culturally competent care, bridging traditional medical systems with biomedical sciences, and restoring Nature to culture through herbal medicine. Read More...

Her work is rooted in the premise that the heart of healing lies in remembering that we belong to each other and to the land. In all she does, Larken hopes to increase awareness of the capacity of not only medicinal plants, but of all nature and wildness, to sustain and heal.

In addition to working with clients in VCIH’s community clinic, Larken’s passion is sharing her craft through education. As founding co-director and core faculty at VCIH, she developed the comprehensive curriculum together with Guido and Betzy, and continues to think about and experiment with new methods to inspire the combination of rigorous critical inquiry and joyful exploration that herbalism calls for. She is interested in education as necessarily life-long and transformative, and views learning and healing as parallel endeavors of discovery.

In addition to her roles at VCIH, Larken served for seven years as faculty in the Health Arts and Sciences (HAS) program at Goddard College, where she worked with students passionate about various herbal traditions, nutrition, agriculture, social and environmental justice, deep ecology, and radical public health. She continues to guest lecture and advise in the HAS program and is a recurring lecturer in the nursing programs at the University of Vermont. She teaches widely at national conferences and has served as faculty for numerous other clinical herbal programs. She also proudly serves on the advisory board of Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US), an educational and advocacy organization working towards a healthcare paradigm of wellness, prevention, patient empowerment, and self-care.

Larken has written for various publications and was previously a regular columnist for UnifiedHealth, a practitioner’s journal devoted to renewing consciousness in medicine.

She is also the past Education Coordinator for PlantMedicine, an international non-profit dedicated to disseminating evidence-based and traditionally-supported herbal information to the healthcare community. With PlantMedicine, she collated and analyzed research data to develop herbal monographs and co-authored (with Simon Mills & Jillian Borchard) a graduate-level learning module on herbal safety and herb-drug interactions.

Her education includes a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts) and a Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College. Larken holds certificates in Zen Shiatsu and Swedish/Esalen Massage from the Heartwood Institute and in using Teishin (acupressure) for pain and stress from the Barefoot Doctor Institute. She has also studied mind-body skills at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC and is currently completing certification in Somatic Experiencing, based on the trauma resolution work of Dr. Peter Levine.

You’ll find Larken happiest on an afternoon spent in a field with a harvest basket, a blue sky, and the sun on her face or kneeling in the dirt meeting a new plant. She lives on a ridge in Middlesex with her animals, messy perennial gardens, and similarly green-thumbed sweetheart. Close

Laura Litchfield is a clinical herbalist and educator and most recently joined the directorial team at VCIH. She tends to the apothecary, finances and daily operations of the school and clinic, bringing extensive practical knowledge of taking care of people and things, both through her diverse work experience and from raising a family. She has been studying herbalism since 1998, including attendance at The California School of Herbal Studies and VCIH. Laura also serves as adjunct faculty, and works clinically with individuals in the professional clinic. She has a special interest in bringing awareness and knowledge of herbs and physiology to the next generation as well as reintroducing herbal remedies into the family kitchen.

Staff

Kathryn Hansis serves as VCIH’s Outreach and Marketing Coordinator, as well as our front desk staff.

Joann Darling serves as VCIH’s Garden Coordinator.

IMG_0286Lisa Olson serves as Apothecary staff at VCIH. Always intrigued by plants, she first studied plant evolution and ecology at the University of Vermont and then became increasingly interested in herbalism, attending Herb Pharm’s Herbaculture internship and graduating from VCIH’s clinical herbalist program. Lisa is also a certified Kripalu yoga teacher and currently holds classes in Plainfield and Barre, Vermont.

To learn about our teachers and clinicians, visit our Faculty and Practitioner directories.