Edible & Medicinal Plants of the North-Central California Coast: 6-month Spring/Summer Classroom & Field Study Program, Berkeley, Friday, 24. April 2020

Edible & Medicinal Plants of the North-Central California Coast

6-month Spring/Summer Classroom & Field Study Program (2020)

The North-Central California coast (between Mendocino & Monterey Counties) is a region of much geographic, climatic, and floristic diversity. Traveling east from the Pacific Ocean to the rugged 7,000’+ peaks of the Inner Coast Ranges one can witness a great variety of different plant communities, including: coastal strand, coastal scrub, salt/freshwater marshes, coastal prairie, redwood forest, mixed evergreen forest, riparian woodland, chaparral, valley grassland, oak woodland, subalpine forest, and others. Similarly, a north-south exploration of the region reveals a dramatic botanical transition as well, with moisture dependent northern species giving way to the more drought tolerant species to the south. With that said it is no wonder the north-central coast is home to literally THOUSANDS of noteworthy edible/medicinal plants!

Join us on this journey of discovery as we follow the plants through the spring/summer seasons while learning about their many historical and contemporary uses. Class will meet one weekend per month for a total of 6 months. The April and July classes will be extended to 2.5 day sessions (Friday afternoon-Sunday evening) and will take place in both the Central Coast and North Coast regions (details listed below).

This interdisciplinary foundational course will engage the student on 3 levels:

1. Interactive Classroom Lecture
2. Hands-On Workshops
3. Field Study

In addition, the program will be structured around two main themes: Seasonal Plant Study & Bioregional Field Exploration. Meaning, we will focus our attention on the most distinctive plant communities found throughout our region while following the peak bloom season of each particular area. The goal of which is to give the student a solid background on the identification and use of the primary edible/medicinal plants found growing around the central coast. Because the bulk of the course will take place between Mendocino County and the San Francisco Bay Area, this will be our main area of focus. Our study will emphasize a dynamic sensory awareness of the plants via close observation, touching, tasting, and smelling. We will visit other regions of the central coast during two 3-day camping trips. This comprehensive, full immersion botanical intensive should prove to be insightful and rewarding for anyone interested in knowing more about the unique flora of our region.

3 Tiers of the program:

The course is generalist by design, and holds as its central premise that a contextual approach to understanding both edible and medicinal plants will be the most useful for the student in the long run. The 3 tiers of the program will include the following class subjects and activities:

I. Interactive Classroom Lecture

• Beginning/intermediate botany concepts
• California plant family recognition strategies
• Materia medica (medicinal plant uses)
• Edible plant uses
• Sampling of a variety of edible/medicinal plant preparations
• Plant toxicology (poisonous plant study)
• Regional ethnobotany
• Rare & endangered plants of California

II. Hands-On Workshops

• Herbal pharmacy (teas/oils/salves/tinctures)
• Medicinal plant harvesting and processing methods (along with legal/ethical guidelines)
• Seasonal edible plant harvest/preparation

III. Field Study

• 2 camping trips described above
• 3 day-long herb walks through a variety of unique plant habitats found across the central coast region (these in addition to the many walks that will occur during our 2 camping trips)
• Field taxonomy/plant ID instruction
• California plant communities (including intertidal zone)
• Natural history of California

Extended Field Trips:

South Coast Ranges: April, 2020
Monterey County - Santa Lucia Mountains

The Santa Lucia Mountain region marks the transition zone in the California Coast Ranges where the moisture dependent northern floristic elements are replaced by those better adapted to the warmer and more arid conditions that are present. Some of the plants we’re likely to come across on our daily treks include: Foothill Yucca, Hummingbird Sage, Western Peony, Silk Tassel, Sugar Pine, Wooly Blue Curls, Indian Warrior, and various species of Yerba Santa.

North Coast Ranges: July, 2020
Lake County - Mendocino National Forest,
Snow Mountain Wilderness

Nestled within an unusually rugged, inaccessible, and little known wilderness area, Snow Mountain (7,000’+) is one of the tallest peaks found in the California Coast Ranges. The region’s unique montane flora is reminiscent of both NW California and the Sierras and includes such useful plants as: Blue Elderberry, Arnica, Bleeding Heart, Corn Lily, Fireweed, Red Root, Milkweed, Chokecherry…just to name a few.

Click on the following link to view pictures of some representative plants and landscapes of the North-Central CA coast:

Course Schedule

Class will meet one weekend per month for a total of 6 months. The April and July classes will be extended to 2.5 day sessions (Friday afternoon-Sunday evening). A total of 90 class hours.

Regular Sessions

Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 10am-6pm

Extended Sessions

Friday: 3pm-7pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 9am-5pm

2020 Session Dates:

Session 1: April 25-27 (Extended Session)
Session 2: TBD
Session 3: TBD
Session 4: TBD
Session 5: TBD
Session 6: TBD

Venue Location:

Regular weekend sessions will take place at the Blue Wind School of Botanical Studies near Ukiah, CA (2 hours north of S.F/Berkeley/Oakland).

Situated at around 1,200' on the east slope of the Outer North Coast Ranges, our teaching center is nestled away in a pristine oak woodland/mixed evergreen forest in the countryside just outside of Ukiah, CA. The facility sits on 80 magnificent acres along with a swimming pond, seasonal creek, greenhouse, garden/farming space, herb processing building, root cellar, and more! A number of different plant communities are represented on the property, and many miles of hiking trails provide access to the floristically rich surrounding area. The center is strategically situated with easy access to both the cool/moist Mendocino coast (45min) AND the arid high elevation peaks of the Inner North Coast Ranges (60min) to the east. Needless to say, there is PLENTY of on-site camping available for students.

Course Fees

$935 Early Bird Discount (before March 15 deadline)
$995 Full tuition (after March 15 deadline)

Tuition fees include basic course materials.
Meals are not included.

Pre-registration is necessary to hold your space. We recommend that you register as early as possible, as many classes fill up in advance.

Refund Policy

Cancellations up to 8 weeks before the course begins will be refunded, excluding a $200 processing fee. No refunds will be given after that date.

To register, or for additional information, contact:

Instructor: Tellur Fenner

Email (preferred): bluewindbmc@gmail.com

Facebook page:

Scope out our photo/video feed on Instagram:

Phone: 510-290-6841

Camping Info

The field trips will entail car-camping mainly in remote and primitive camping sites (no running water, showers, toilets, picnic tables, etc), though the lack of such conveniences is GREATLY outweighed by the stunning beauty and peaceful solitude of these locales. State-of-the-art backpacking gear is not necessary. Participants will need to be physically able to hike 3-6 miles/day in warm temperatures.

What to bring:
Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad
Clothes (for hot/cold weather)
Hiking Boots
Rain Gear
Camp Stove
Camp Chair
Swimming Suit
Water Bottles (4 quarts)
And most importantly...a sense of adventure!

Course Materials
(not included in tuition fee)

Required Texts

"Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" by Michael Moore

*"Nature's Garden: Edible Wild Plants" by Samuel Thayer

"Marin Flora" Revised Edition (2007) by John Howell

*"Botany in a Day" 6th Edition by Thomas Elpel

Total book cost: approximately $75

*(Note: we will purchase Nature's Garden and Botany in a Day as a class at a bulk discount)

Required materials

-Hand-lens (for plant ID) Cost: $10-35

Friday, 24. April 2020, Berkeley, Edible & Medicinal Plants of the North-Central California Coast: 6-month Spring/Summer Classroom & Field Study Program

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