Arthur Haines has been teaching in the field of human health and human ecology for over 20 years. He runs the Delta Institute of Natural History and his popular classes focus primarily on foraging, herbal medicine, and ancestral lifeways. He will be offering two classes at Herbstalk this year: "Flora for the Fauna" and a plant walk, "Walking with the Standing People."
Wild plants found on our local landscapes. Teaching people to use what is in their place as opposed to importing non-native plants from around the world. Bringing in plants from around the world to use for healing is a step in the right direction but it is still imposing our will on the landscape and it is still a reliance on industry. I like to foster (to the extent possible) learning to use what grows in your bioregion.
What challenges did you face when you first started?
There were a lot of challenges discerning myth from lore from evidenced-based research and what the value of each was. Finding mentors who could share their expertise and experience was also difficult.
Where do you see the future of herbalism going in the next few years?
Highly regulated and likely prohibited in some realms with people becoming more and more afraid of allowing people to practice healing in their own families and communities. This is not a vision I wish for, but based on my experiences, I am fearful of things continuing to trend in this direction.
Do you have a favorite plant or two at the moment?
Whatever I am eating at the moment, so currently, wood nettle (Laportea canadensis). Or maybe black locust as two family members have bows made out of this tree.
Practice the medicine on yourself.
Are there any non-herbal hobbies or interests that you love doing?
We practice herbalism to have medical sovereignty but we want sovereignty in all areas of our life … so we gather our own food, we make some of our own clothing, we craft our own hunting weapons, and so on.
Any guilty pleasures you’d like to share?
I guess California bay laurel nuts because they come from across the continent. But they are as close to chocolate as I have had from a wild plant in North America.
Finally, what would be your top five deserted island herbs? (the only herbs you could have around while stuck on a deserted island)
Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and hemlock reishi (Ganoderma tsugae).