Image 12The final stop on the Herb Bus’s 2014 west Coast Tour, was at Ponderosa High School in Flagstaff, AZ.  This is my second year visiting this accomodations high school that is tasked with educating a diverse and underserved group of teens.  The Bus was hosted by the Terra BIRDS program, a local nonprofit that teaches kids stewardship and sustainability through gardening.  Together with the students they have turned what was once desert pavement, into an incredible example of permaculture in action.  

This Tuesday morning, we set up the Bus so the students could learn more a bit about what we do at the Herbalista Free Clinic.  After showing the medicine kits and describing the type of healthcare we provide, we stepped into their garden and talked about the plants they had already growing around them.  I was honored to get to share my work on the Bus with them and look forward to another visit!

Foot Care on Skid Row

On my final day in LA, before heading east, I visited the Los Angeles Catholic Worker “Hippie Kitchen,” located in the middle of the central city ghetto known as Skid Row. Founded in 1970, this Hospitality Kitchen is part of the Catholic Worker Movement, founded in the 30’s by Dorothy Day with the mission to “feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner.”

This center is more than a soup kitchen. In addition to meal and clinical services, they have cultivated a garden beyond belief, filled with artwork and heart, to provide a refuge from the harsh reality of living on the street.  
IMG_9392At the Open Door’s Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic we have been lucky to host, on occasion, workers from the LACW Foot Clinic.  I am so glad to now have the chance to work with their crew on Footcare Friday!  In the middle of such tragedy, the Hippie Kitchen shines like a jewel. The gardens and buildings are filled with mosaics and murals. A contrast to the encampments which line the streets of Skid Row each night.The foot clinic at the Hippie Kitchen, is held outside in the middle of the gardens.  What a healing experience for the wounded, to gaze upon flowers as their feet are tended.  And what an incredibly moving experience for the practitioner, to work in these magical surroundings.

I hope to return again next year, to visit with this community, so dedicated to caring for their brothers and sisters and friends on the street.  I look forward to getting the chance to once again, share skills and share in this uplifting work.  Big shout out to the folks of the LACW!  Thank you!



Yesterday, we had another member on our crew!  Ann Merrill, a friend and herbalist from Austin, lent us a hand at the Big House station.  While an herbalist’s work can often be a solitary endeavor, our practice on the Bus is a group effort.  The crew works together, in a dynamic back and forth, as we run the consult and customize the remedies we offer to patients.  Ann made a great addition!

Not only does the crew benefit from this communal work environment, but we have noticed that the community we serve has bonded over our monthly visits as well.  While folks are waiting for their turn, they sit together, sip tea, and talk about the herbs they are trying.  They are supporting one  another in their healthcare efforts.  This is what we mean by “Building Community through Herbalism! Viva la Herb Bus!



My last weekend in England was spent in the company of a group of amazing herbalists and herb lovers at the Radical Herbalism Gathering. (

I am still buzzing. Sometimes you need to go over an ocean and plant yourself down in a group of strangers, to be reminded of the continuity of the human experience. To be surrounded by such compassionate folks who see true health as inseparable from social and environmental justice, to see first hand that these issues are being discussed and shared and worked towards in many corners of the planet gave me a little shot of hope.


Working for social change can wear a person down. I remember when I was a younger girl, asking my mother how she could day in and out keep fighting the unwinnable fight, bear to live in a country such as ours, where crimes of humanity were committed on the regular, where business was valued over blood, where true equality seems a pipe dream. She just looked at me and said it was called “living in the belly of the beast,” and that what keeps us going, even in desperate times, was that the people you meet doing this work, the community you get to be a part of, makes it all ok. The shared inspiration keeps our flame burning strong.

And that is how this gathering made me feel! Here is a collection of photos from my weekend in the lovely Shropshire countryside with a group of lovely folks.

~Herbalista Lorna

Herbalista Free Clinic Service Report

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It’s hard to believe that our clinic debut was not even a year ago!  On Feburary 6, 2013 we pitched for the first time at the Open Door Community in Atlanta.  It has been a tremendously exciting year, and we hope this is just the beginning of a long and healing journey.

We wanted to share some of the highlights with you:

At our Atlanta hub we hosted 17 clinics, where we served gallons of seasonal tea blends, conducted 111 consultations, dispensed 2 1/2 gallons of customized tincture formulas (alcohol and glycerites), 8#’s of raw custom herbal and powder blends, and a variety of other remedies including essential oil sniffers, herbal capsules, and oil rubs.

We facilitated several pop-up first aid clinics around the country, including the Rainbow Gathering in Montana, the Firefly Gathering in North Carolina, the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in North Carolina, and the Georgia Organics Conference in GA, where we served hundreds more and put herbal healing in the hands of the people.

We spread the Herb Bus method and our love for plants and community at numerous classes and workshops.  Some of our hosts included  Ponderosa High School, the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine, Warren Wilson College, Homestead Atlanta, and the High Museum of Art.

We created the Herb Bus Service Manual to help others start free clinic projects in their communities.  This manual is available as a free PDF download from our website.

The Herb Bus Service Manual

Lorna, the herbalista who drives this sweet ol’ bus around town, was awarded the 2013 Community Service Award by the American Herbalists Guild to honor her work with the Herbalista Free Clinic and the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic.

The Bus drove over 10,000 miles delivering healthcare and herbal education around the country.

And, saving the best for last, we spent time with the plants– studying their form, learning their energetics and actions, and wildcrafting to prepare sweet sweet remedies to share with our patients and community.

Thanks  to our community who supports this work, our teachers who inspire us to grow and strive, the plants who heal, and the people who receive these gifts with grace. Viva la Herb Bus!

~Herbalista Lorna

The Herb Bus has driven many miles this past year.  And though she is approaching a quarter of a century old with hundreds of thousands of miles under her fan belt, each time I ask her to make a trip, either around Atlanta to service our regular stations, to the mountains to gather medicines, or to provide a pop-up clinic as far away as Montana, she is always revving to go.  And that is because doing this work, serving those in need, isn’t a burden.  It nourishes us.  With each clinic we run, we grow from the friends we make and the pain we can help to ease.  This is the path of serve.  And what an incredible gift that by our work as herbalists, we have the chance to serve not only the people, but the plants and the planet.

There are so many ways to spread the health; how can you feed the flame to keep yourself, your family, and your community warm this winter?

~Herbalista Lorna

The Bus and I are humbled and honored to be the recipients of the 2013 Community Service Award, presented by the American Herbalists Guild.  I am grateful that in my life I have had the chance to serve my community, that I actually had something I could offer to them.  I am also grateful to this herbal path, which has taught me so many lessons and surrounded me with amazingly creative and compassionate people.  Being an herbalist allows me to serve plant, person, and planet, and it is an honor.

Thank you, AHG, for having considered our little Bus for this award.  There has been so much community support to help this project succeed and now we feel yet another set of hands lifting up our work, that of the Guild.  Thank you.  We will continue to do our best to spread the health by putting herbs in the hands of the people.

~Herbalista Lorna

The Herb Bus stops at the Open Door Community on the first Wednesday of every month.  In this month’s issue of Hospitality, their regular newsletter, they gave a shout out to the Bus and our efforts to spread the health and happiness through herbalism.  And I would like to give a shout-out right back for the wonderful work the Open Door is engaged in on the daily.

The Open Door is a residential community dedicated to resisting war and violence, dismantling racism, sexism, and heterosexism, abolishing the death penalty and building a stronger and more loving community by nurturing all members of our community including the homeless and prison inmates.  They open the house several days a week and offer many needed services such as soup kitchen, showers, phones, and medical care.  There are 4 different free clinics at the Open Door — basic medical, foot care, women’s, and for the past year herbal.

I have been fortunate to have spent close to a decade of Wednesday evenings surrounded by this dynamic and caring group as I serve at the Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic, a free foot clinic for our friends on the street.  The members of this community have been a tremendous influence on my work and my heart.  Their encouragement and support allowed me to take on the challenges of promoting an integrative approach at the foot clinic and also to dare to dream of a free mobile clinic we now call the Herb Bus.

There is a saying at the Open Door, “We’re gonna do the best we can until we can’t.”   These are simple words that make a profound point.  When we are facing what seems a difficult journey, when we don’t know how we can achieve the change that we know needs to happen, this phrase reminds us that we don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to do our best.  And while we are out there, giving what we can, we will be creating the community that is capable of even greater things.

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