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Junior Herbalist Club

“Giving a good herbal foundation will stay with children for their lifetime. Knowledge is empowering. Even though the majority may not choose to become professional herbalists, they will have a solid foundation of herbal knowledge which they will one day be able to pass along to their friends, family, community, and children of their own.” Mel HornbyCreator of JHC

Junior Herbalist Club is a brand new venture. It’s taking place with the support of the National Institute  of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). The aim of Junior Herbalist Club (JHC) is to let children learn about the healing and medicinal plants all around them in a safe and supervised environment – in this case, Dilston Physic Garden!

JHC meets at Dilston Physic Garden once a month from September to July and is led by NIMH medical herbalist Davina Hopkinson.

The children’s learning will include

  • Identification of common herbs growing all around them
  • Safety – which herbs are safe to use and which are poisonous
  • Folklore – taught through stories and songs
  • How to grow and harvest herbs
  • Medicinal uses of common herbs
  • How to use a variety of common herbs for first aid
  • How to make a variety of herbal preparations to keep and take home
  • Respect for all plants and their environment

By the end of the year, the children will be able to

  • Correctly identify many common medicinal plants growing in their gardens, parks, hedgerows and streets and distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous plants
  • Know the medicinal properties of many common plants
  • Understand how to use some of these plants in first aid and how to use some plants for making medicines
  • Enjoy listening to the stories and tales of folklore and history surrounding the plants and plant medicine
  • Know how to cultivate and harvest plants whilst respecting their environment and all of nature

Junior Herbalist Club meets once a month.

Ten lessons are delivered over a year from September to July. At the end of the year the children are given certificates of attendance and a badge.

Each month we focus on one particular healing plant. The children are taught how to correctly identify the plant, about the origins of the plant name (both common and botanical names) and about the plant’s habitat and life cycle. Next, we look at the history and folklore surrounding the plant. This may include storytelling, songs and funny anecdotes. We then discuss the medicinal qualities of the plant, the primary constituents responsible for the healing activity, and the uses for the plant, both internally and externally. Children are encouraged to participate in the discussion, adding their own ideas and thoughts.

The children are also given a worksheet after each session to be completed before the next meeting. This helps them to remember what we have learnt and acts as their own portfolio of medicinal plant learning. JHC has been planned so that each month the children build on their knowledge and skills. We start off with lavender – a well-known and easily identifiable plant and make lavender bags and lavender-scented sugar and progress on to making sun-teas, infused oils, poultices, cordials, bath-bombs and lip balms. In the second year, the tasks become a little more complex, building on the skill set developed in the first year and include making marshmallows, syrups, lozenges, salves, creams and hydrosols.

JHC is aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 12. However, older children are welcome and children aged 7 can come but will require a parent or guardian to stay with them during the class. Parents of children over the age of 8 are welcome to stay if they wish! Please note that we are not able to provide supervision or care for siblings not registered on the JHC course. Please make sure that your child wears clothes suitable to the activities – comfortable old clothes, and shoes or boots that can get muddy, and bring a raincoat to each session as we always try to go outside, even if it’s wet.

The cost for the year is £80.00 payable in advance to secure your child’s place. This cost covers all tuition and materials. Children who attend regularly will receive an award and certificate at the end of the year.

To book your child’s place just email Davina Hopkinson davinaherbalist@gmail.com.