Join a dedicated group of herbal enthusiasts to garden and learn alongside a professional medical herbalist.

Session one       April 1 -26    
Session two April 30 - May 26  
Session three May 28 - June 22
Session four June 25 - July 20
Session five July 23 - August 17
Session six August 20 - September 14

Apprenticeship fees are $ 450 for each session, plus GST.

We are full for the season, please apply in the fall for 2020

Classes totalling over 16 hours each session.  In addition, there is a lot of opportunities and support for self directed learning, access to an extensive library of books and videos, time for questions and discussion, and casual learning by doing and immersion.

Apprentices may apply to live on site and work 25 hours / week in exchange for full board and lodging (private room, linens, laundry, wifi, fully equipped kitchen, all basic pantry supplies and produce).

Overview of the Program

These intensive sessions allow you to be totally immersed in learning to grow, harvest, process and use herbs and food plants from seed to finished product, to nourish and heal yourself, your community and the land.  This program explains and explores how to grow, harvest, process and use your own herbs and food; providing practical tools, experiential learning, and taught classroom components to reach a wide range of students with diverse learning styles.

This apprenticeship provides an opportunity to learn by doing in field practicum as well as in more formal lessons. Some of the garden work is cold and wet or hot and boring, but we try to mix it up often to give you new challenges. There are close to 200 medicinal plants on the farm and apprentices may work with several dozens during their stay.  The Innisfree herbal apprenticeship is largely an experiential training, learning by doing. It requires a strong work ethic, a strong back and a strong will to learn. This program is focused on direct plant experience: some classes take place in nature where students work hands-on with medicinal plants, on the farm and sometimes in the forest.


Apprentices live and work on the farm, becoming part of a community of soil stewards and plant people. Apprentices participate in all aspects of growing and harvesting food and herbs in the gardens and the orchard, as well as maintaining the teaching gardens and amenity gardens. Innisfree runs a registered Botanic Garden and is open to the public on Friday and Saturday every week during the summer season, serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, and giving guided garden tours.  Apprentices may participate in all aspects of this from baking to customer service.

Apprentices are expected to be self starters and self directed learners.  There is an extensive library of books, videos and audio lectures on many aspects of herbal medicine, culinary arts and sustainable food production.

In all sessions there will be a 90 min class with Chanchal on Tuesday afternoon. This series does not have a formal curriculum, it will be a wide ranging conversation about whatever herbs we have been working with, questions you have from your reading, what and where to read next, how to treat different conditions, and so on. A loose format but an opportunity for personal tutoring and guidance in your herbal education.

In addition, each session will have different classes or learning opportunities that may cover a wide range of topics and delivery methods so that students can readily stay for 2 or 3 sessions and not repeat materials.

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Requirements for Apprentices

  • Good work ethic - some gardening and farming is dirty and muddy and cold (or hot) and it still has to get done. We especially like people with experience working outdoors - farming, landscaping, tree planting, construction, because you know how it is to work in all weather.

  • A strong back - literally, because we do some landscaping, lifting, hauling and shovelling.

  • No significant health restriction

  • Good time management - we work as a team and showing up late or not being ready on time puts extra work on other apprentices.

  • Sociable and friendly - apprentices live in trailers, 4 private rooms, 1 shared room, shared kitchen, bathroom and common space. Ability to get along with others is very important.

  • Willingness to be challenged, to try or to do new things, curiosity and desire to learn through doing.

Who applies to apprentice at Innnisfree ?


In the 10 years we have been running apprenticeships we have hosted well over 100 people, all sorts from all walks of life –  from the 19 year old school leaver with a passion for plants and food and sustainability, to the 44 year old lawyer looking for a new sense of purpose; from the newly graduated doctor looking to “dig her way out of medical school” to the 55 year old doctor, raw food chef and Green party candidate. Everyone comes as they are and takes what they need from their time spent close to Nature.

Innisfree Season 2012 from Emily - 1042.jpg

The Food and Medicine Apprenticeship is designed for people who:
- want to understand the link between what we eat and our health and well being
- appreciate that food production, the environment and social and personal well being are all interlinked
are passionate about natural medicine and plants, and have an interest in “field to fork” eating - growing, harvesting and processing farm fresh food in season
~   have an interest in local, sustainable and low cost plant medicines and building community and personal resilience through plant medicine
~   want to empower themselves with knowledge about self care
~   want to be able to help their friends and family with simple health challenges
~   want to rely less on the medical system
~   want to know how to identify, grow, harvest and process their own herbal medicines
~   want to learn how to make and dispense herbal remedies – storing herbs, stock control, making liniments, tinctures, oils and more.


Course objectives

At completion of this course the successful student will be able to describe, discuss and demonstrate a range of the following skills sets according to season and duration of attendance:
~   an appreciation for the structures and parts of plants and how they function (botany)
~   skills and techniques of wild plant identification
~   harvesting techniques for roots, barks, leaves, flowers, seeds
~   drying and processing methods and equipment
~   the methods and processes required to make herbal remedies
~   knowledge of how to use herbs and natural medicines for personal, family and community wellness
~   the ways and means of building healthy soil through amendments and mulching
~   the methods and processes required to make potting mix, choose plants for the season and the purpose, plant out flats of seeds, prick out seedlings, pot up seedlings, transplant seedlings, trellis or train the plants
~   the method and processes required to prune, weed and maintain the plants
~   saving seeds and seed banking

Learning overview for herbal medicine apprenticeship


Botany and plant identification
Learn to recognize medicinal and poisonous herbs – so you can safely pick in the wild.
-   plant evolution and taxonomy
-   botanical features of root, stem, leaf, flower and fruit
-   using a plant key
-   family characteristics 

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Harvesting and processing herbs
Careful harvesting ensures long term sustainability of the plant. Careful processing ensures a high quality medicine.
-   wild crafting in the forest
-   harvesting techniques for barks, roots, leaves, flowers and fruits
-   processing techniques for barks, roots, leaves, flowers and fruits
-   drying and storing botanicals
-   processing herbs


Pharmacognosy (plant chemistry)
Knowing how the plants exert their therapeutic actions allows us to better understand how to use them in clinical practice.
-   overview of plant metabolism
-   introduction to holistic phytochemistry –  mucilage and polysaccharides, phenolics (tannins, salicylates, flavonoids, anthraquinones), bitters, volatile oils, saponins, alkaloids

Materia medica and clinical applications
Taught through discussions and question – answer sessions, we will consider in detail how the herbs do their work and how to use them effectively and safely.
- clinical applications of herbs within body systems
- formulating strategies and treatment planning
- dosing, contra-indications and safety concerns.


Approximate harvesting schedule in 2019 (weather & time dependent).  

Plantain, Cleavers, Horsetail, Raspberry, Marshmallow, Motherwort, Yarrow,  Ladies mantle, Lavender, Violet, Vervain, Chickweed.

St John’s wort, Yarrow, Oregano, Mint, Thyme, Tarragon, Lovage, Sage, Lemon balm, Fennel, Hyssop, Savory, Calendula, Lavender, Violet, Dianthus, Nasturtium, Chrysanthemum, Vervain, Marshmallow, Mullein.

Mullein, Fennel, Sage, Epazote, Echinacea, Calendula, Violet, Dianthus, Nasturtium, Chrysanthemum.

Fennel seed, Rosemary, Basil, Stevia, Lemon verbena, Echinacea, Calendula, Black cumin, Caraway, Dill seed, Cape gooseberry.

Dandelion root, Burdock, Yellow dock, Oregon grape, Chicory, Butterbur, Willow bark, Cape gooseberry.


Let us know who you are and how to contact you - name, age, sex, Email, mailing address, phone, and what session you are applying for.

A few paragraphs about yourself (as much detail as you think is appropriate): your background, where do you come from, what education and practical work experience do you have, have you worked in a garden before ?   What has been your experience of botanical medicine ?    What do you want to learn - be specific.  

Do you have particular skills or knowledge that you could contribute ?  Any relevant training you may have: baking, fermenting, landscaping, social media, anything digital, wood working, construction, bicycle repair, automotive, Food Safe, First Aid, etc

We are vegetarians but we eat fish and eggs.  Our diet is high in veggies, legumes and fruit, and low in dairy and grain.  Do you have food restrictions of any kind ? Do you have medical needs, allergies, physical or mental challenges that we need to know about ? 

Copy - paste and Email your comments and answers to clinic@chanchalcabrera.com.  
We will respond promptly to acknowledge your application.