Monday, June 25 , 2018, 6:17 am | Overcast 63º


School Gardens Program Teaches Local Educators About Healing Power of Plants

Herbalist Lia Grippo leads a workshop at Ellwood Elementary in Goleta

On a warm, sunny afternoon, local educators gathered in the beautiful, serene organic garden at Ellwood Elementary School in Goleta. The purpose of the Healing Plants Workshop: From Garden to Classroom was to learn from local herbalist and early childhood educator Lia Grippo about the powers of healing herbs and how they can be made into medicinal teas, salves and lip balms ultimately by students in the garden.

All in attendance were careful to pour the melted beeswax and herb-infused olive oil into their small tin container to take with them as a gift from the garden. The Ellwood garden was brimming with the plants used to make the salves, including comfrey, plantain (a common local weed), lavender and hummingbird sage.

Designed by School Gardens as a workshop to assist educators in teaching students about the healing gifts from their school gardens, it quickly grew into a buzzing discussion of the various benefits of the healing plants, oils and local beeswax used as ingredients. A special gift was presented by Chumash elder Virginia Ortega, who shared her native prayer ties and the special meaning of the traditional healing plants and shells contained within.

Attendees were provided materials to make and take a gift with them using the various herbs and shells. 

One attendee stated that she intends to plant comfrey in the school garden at Brandon School for a future medicinal salve lesson. In the meantime, she says, she plans to create a mint salve lesson for making lip balm with her class.

In a time when everyone is talking about being overly scheduled and running around like chickens with their heads cut off, it was refreshing to see attendees lingering 30 minutes after the end of the workshop in the glow of the full moon to stroll the garden and take note of the unique plants highlighted by student-made signage.

The mission of the School Gardens Program is to connect students to food and their environment through gardens and is offered through the SBCC Center for Sustainability in partnership with the Orfalea Foundation.

For more information about the School Gardens Program, including volunteer opportunities or to inquire about future garden-based education workshops, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Trish Stone-Damen is an outreach coordinator for the School Gardens Program through the SBCC Center for Sustainability.

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