Core Faculty

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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.

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Larken Bunce, MS is a clinical herbalist, educator, gardener, writer, and photographer deeply inspired by a life-long love affair with plants. Since 1994, she has studied traditional views of health and nature in tandem with scientific understandings of plants and people, exploring our innate tendency towards health and the profound impact of synchronizing our lives with the rhythms of the natural world. Her practice and teaching draw wisdom from various systems of body, mind and spirit-centered healing, including Western herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, aromatherapy, flower essence therapy, mind-body techniques and whole foods nutrition. 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. Read More...

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.

In addition to her roles at the Center, 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, is a recurring lecturer in the nursing programs at the University of Vermont, and serves as faculty for a number of other clinical herbal programs. She teaches nationally at conferences such as the New England Women’s Herbal Conference and the HerbFolk Gathering.

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.

Larken has written articles for various publications and was previously a regular columnist for UnifiedHealth, a practitioner’s journal devoted to renewing consciousness in medicine. Currently, she maintains a blog (see below) which chronicles the cycles of and lessons learned in one of VCIH’s medicinal gardens, which she maintains with VCIH students.

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. However, as is true for most herbalists, Larken’s most profound learning has occurred through partnership with clients, students, other herbalists and practitioners, and the plants themselves. Through such exchange, she envisions the eventual reawakening and dissemination of traditional healing knowledge in each home in every community.

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 is tickled beyond belief that she gets to do these things regularly and get paid for it. She lives on a ridge in Middlesex with her animals, bossy perennial gardens and similarly green-thumbed sweetheart. Close

Adjunct Faculty

Bio PicJoann Darling is a native Vermonter living in Barre, in the homestead where she grew up and today practices and teaches skills in traditional arts. She has been connected to the land of Vermont for generations, closely tied to the plants, animals and people through the seasons. Her knowledge and wisdom includes the myriad ways of knowing the plants, from flower growing and arrangements to dyeing, felting, weaving and growing flax for fibre.  Joann has been growing medicinal plants for many years, opening her nursery and flower farm, Gardens of Seven Gables in 1994. A real down-­to-­earth entrepreneur, she also owns a soap company, Green Sylk Soap Company. Read More...

As an apprentice at the Marshfield School of Weaving, Joann received a grant from the Vermont Folklife Center to document the process of growing flax and processing it all the way through to a piece of woven cloth. In 2009 Joann was  the lead gardener of  The Apple Corps, the group that planted the first vegetable garden on a Statehouse lawn.  She has taught Herb Camp for children at the Two Rivers Farm, and Gardens for Learning, a Foods Work program, at a low income housing site in Barre, Vt.

Joann’s love for teaching about the natural world inspired her study in interpretation, and in 2012 she successfully completed her certification as an Interpretive Guide, through the National Association for Interpretation.

Joann has studied with Rosemary Gladstar where she successfully completed a teacher training program.  She has taught at the International Herb Symposium, New England Women’s Herbal Conference, The Vermont Sheep and Wool Expo and in the community on subjects ranging from seed and plant starting,  natural dyes for wool, to natural hair care. Joann currently holds a first degree in Reiki and attended VCIH in 2011, successfully completing the Family Herbalist training program.

Her experience brings her gratitude for the abundance that Mother Earth provides us if we pay attention to her teachings and circulate it in the community in a generous way. Close

Camille Freeman, MS, RH(AHG) is VCIH’s holistic physiology instructor. She has this to say by way of introduction: “Greetings from Northern Virginia! I’m Camille, and I’ve been teaching physiology both online and face-to-face since 2007. I’m an associate professor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health and also teach herbal medicine at Sky House and at the New York Chiropractic College.  I’ve been in practice as an herbalist and nutritionist since 2003, specializing in reproductive health and fertility. I’m licensed as a nutritionist in Maryland, and was a student in the first MS in Herbal Medicine class at Tai Sophia. I also have an MS in Physiology from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I’m fascinated by the human body, and enjoy learning more about how things work every time I teach a course. In addition to wrangling my two small children, I enjoy yoga, gardening and tracking down deals at thrift stores and garage sales. I  have a potentially unhealthy love of Alice Waters’ pink grapefruit and avocado salad. Look it up. You won’t be sorry.”

Iris Gage, RH(AHG) is a clinical supervisor for VCIH’s student clinic.  She is a graduate of VCIH’s three year clinical training program.  She is also the owner of Grian Herbs Apothecary, central Vermont’s source for bulk herbs, herbal supplies, and holistic health information, where she serves as an herbal consultant and manufacturer of herbal products.

 

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 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.

Guido Masé, RH(AHG) is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism, though his approach is eclectic and draws upon many influences. He spent his childhood in Italy, in the central Alps and in a Renaissance town called Ferrara. After traveling the United States, he settled into Vermont where he has been living since 1996.

His experience includes founding and operating an herbal extract company focused on local harvesting and production; co-founding and co-directing a non-profit community herbal clinic; teaching herbal medicine to a variety of audiences ranging from the very young to herbal conference attendees, apprentices, and medical students; and working with clients one-on-one to discover ways to support and enhance health using whole plants and whole foods. Read More...

Guido’s teaching style focuses on conveying the interconnections within the human organism and between the organism and its surrounding ecology with a constant eye to the amazing beauty such study reveals: at any level, and in many different “languages”, herbs mirror people, the plant and animal kingdoms grew up together as complements. Such a relational awareness provides meaning and context, critical elements to understanding and also to healing.

At home, he spends time with his wife Anne and daughter Uli. He enjoys cooking and eating with family and friends, writing on topics in herbal medicine and human health, playing music, and experimenting with distillates and novel herbal formulae. Time alone is usually spent running on road and trail (often in the very early morning). Occasionally he will race a marathon. Guido works clinically and teaches as a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, and is a part of United Plant Savers and the American Botanical Council.

Guido serves as a faculty supervisor in our student clinic, while also teaching Natural Sciences, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics. Close

Julie Mitchell, RH (AHG), M.Sc. wears many different hats in the plant medicine world including gardener, teacher, health consultant, and plant medicine maker. Julieʼs interest in plants and her relationship with the green world began as an apprentice to a natural dyer and spinner in 1976. Her job was to gather plants for the large dye pots used in dying the spun wool. Learning how to identify plants and their diverse uses, led her to herbal medicine. It was the recognition of the interconnectedness–affinity or love with plants–that fueled further study into the ʻmedicineʼ offered. (Interconnect is a device used to connect two things together. Love is the device.) Read More...

Julie has been an avid gardener for over 30 years. She has taught plant medicine throughout Vermont, in informal settings, at grade schools, high schools, NOFA conferences and the New England Womenʼs Herbal Conference, giving courses ranging from making plant medicines to plant identification and more recently, Goethean plant studies. In more formal settings, she has taught university courses at Middlebury College, along with teaching physical exam skills and interpersonal skills at the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. She has a consultation practice in Bristol VT focusing on facilitating health through medicine as food, herbs and lifestyle practices. She has run a home apothecary, Eos Botanicals, since 1991 providing quality herbal tinctures to her community in Addison County.

She graduated in 2003 with a BSc from the College of Phytotherapy, University of Wales, was a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in the U.K. for two years and became a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild in 2003. She received her MSc, with honors, in Herbal Medicine from the University of Wales in 2008. Julie teaches a wide variety of subjects in the VCIH curriculum, including Botany, Therapeutics, Materia Medica, and Western Tools for the Herbalist, and and serves as a supervisor in VCIH’s student clinic. Close

Leslie Williams, M.Ed., RH(AHG) serves as adjunct faculty in our Family and Clinical Herbalist programs. Leslie comes from a family of herbal folks and woods wanderers from southern USA.  She studied with Paul Olko, Sai, Crazy Owl, Marjorie Little and many more great herbalists you’ve perhaps never heard of, as well as many more known. She has been working in clinical practice more than 30 years, with humans and dogs and sometimes horses and cats. Her background also includes corporate consulting, co-founding an international natural products company, and working as a buyer and manager for a big herb shop. She works to make her practice as local as possible, while studying herbs and lessons of world-wide traditions.  We are all invasive species at some point. Read More...

Leslie is passionate about the art of creating dynamic herbal formulas. We must understand herbs, plants, trees in depth to be able to understand how they can ally and work together, and true skill lies in using fewer herbs in formulas. This means exploring so-called secondary and tertiary actions and properties.  Leslie is also keen on working with the medicines of trees.

She mentors herbalists, works with clients, and teaches as much as possible. She serves on the national council of the AHG as a professional member, and on their diversity committee, and she belongs to Herbalists without Borders and United Plant Savers. She has worked in free and walk-in clinics, as well as at music festivals, marches and gatherings off the grid. For 50 years she has practiced zen. She is also a bicycle mechanic and a cook.  She was raised by a family of working class possums in the Florida swamps who believed in spirits and magics.

 

Leslie contributes to a number of courses at VCIH, including Plant Actions and Chemistry, Research Skills, Therapeutics, Ethics and Legal Considerations, and Materia Medica, while also serving as a supervisor in our student clinic.

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Guest Faculty

Brendan Kelly, M.Ac., L.Ac. holds a master’s degree in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and is an herbalist of 20 years with training in eastern and western healing traditions. He practices full-time in Burlington, VT at his clinic Jade Mountain Wellness. His first training was in western folk herbalism, which included extensive experience in medicine making, and wild-harvesting and growing medicinal and edible plants. He has been a western herbal business owner, selling several hundred herbal products in health food stores nationally. He also founded and was the primary instructor of a hands-on herbal school in southern Vermont that offered 1-3 year trainings in working with local, wild botanicals. Read More...

He is on the faculty at the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in FL and Johnson State College in VT, and teaches about various aspects of Chinese medicine and western herbal medicine at schools, universities, educational centers and conferences around the US. For the past 10 years, he has focused on the integration of the older, pre-westernized, classical traditions of Chinese medicine with the potency of local, western herbs. He is in the process of publishing his first book The Yin and Yang of Climate Change, which looks at the deeper, root issues of what is happening with the climate through different perspectives of Chinese medicine.

Brendan is a guest lecturer on Chinese Medicine in VCIH’s Applied Energetics course. Close

Lisa Masé is a whole foods cooking teacher specializing in foods without gluten, dairy or sugar that taste terrific. She writes about food, cooking and culture on her blog, Harmonized Cookery. Drawing on her background as a business consultant, she also works with various businesses and organizations to foster growth through managing grants, fundraising, marketing, membership, and community partnerships. Lisa is a guest lecturer on small business resources in VCIH’s Business Development course.

IMG_0286Lisa Olson serves as Outreach Coordinator for VCIH. She promotes VCIH though managing fundraising, marketing, and membership and coordinates community classes and the City Market clinic. 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. Lisa is a guest lecturer on Ayurveda in our Applied Energetics course.