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

 Lectures, Discussions, Harvesting,
Medicine Making and Field Trips. 

SESSION ONE        8 WEEKS     MAY 15 - JULY 7   
SESSION TWO       4 WEEKS      JULY 10 – AUGUST 4   

Session one  $1500 / 8 weeks (60 hours of class time)
Sessions two or three  $1100 / 4 weeks (45 hours of class time) 

Early bird special – pay in full 3 months before start date and receive 10% off the total

All fees are plus GST

Classes are held Wednesday afternoons, Thursday evenings and 1 Friday per month.  According to the session, there will be additional workshops, seminars, dispensary practicum and field trips.
Hands on time harvesting, drying, processing herbs
Tutoring and coaching, learning outlines, weekly feedback
Library, educational videos and downloads

25 hours / week of gardening in exchange for board and lodging
with private room, linens, laundry, wifi, fully equipped kitchen, cooked lunch on working days,  
all basic pantry supplies and produce



                          A month at Innisfree

                        A month at Innisfree

                          Interning at Innisfree

                        Interning at Innisfree

Overview of the Program

This intensive live-in program allows 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.

Who is this program for?

The Herbal Medicine Apprenticeship is designed for people who
~   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
~   want to better 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 have an interest in ‘field to fork’ eating – growing, harvesting and processing farm fresh food in season 

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. Apprentices can be given a study guide if they wish, outlining areas for further reading and posing questions to direct their reading.

In the 9 years we have been running apprenticeships we have met all sorts of people 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; over 100 people have spent anywhere from a month to a season with us.



There are three apprenticeship sessions offered in 2018, one of 8 weeks duration and two of 4 weeks duration. Depending on season and duration of attendance, apprentices will receive a variable experience of garden work (making soil mix, seeding, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, irrigating, etc.) and a selection of different botanical medicine and materia medica classes. 

Apprentices will participate in an on-going monthly Advanced Botanical Prescribing series while they are in the program and will be offered a discounted registration fee if they choose to attend the remainder of the season’s classes before and after their apprenticeship session dates.


Apprentices will attend herbal medicine gatherings with Chanchal (early June and late August). Registration will be paid for these, but apprentices are responsible for their own accommodation and meal plans and a share of transportation cost (gas and ferries).

Apprentices in August will participate in afternoon sessions of the Advanced Case Studies Herb Camp.

Draft timetable (subject to change)    

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Session one   May 15 - July 7    8 weeks    60 hours of class time

May 18      Botany and Plant ID
June 15      Quality Control and Good Dispensary Procedures
Wednesdays     General Tutoring
Thursdays    Holistic Biology
Harvesting, Medicine Making, Field Trips, includes Kootenay Herb Gathering June 1 - 3


Session two    July 10 - August 4    4 weeks   45 hours of class time


July 13      Formulating and Prescribing
Wednesdays      General Tutoring  
Thursdays       Holistic Biology
Harvesting, Medicine Making, Field Trips

Session three    August 7 - September 1    4 weeks   45 hours of class time

August 9 - 12     Advanced Case Studies Herb camp
Wednesdays     General Tutoring   
Thursdays       Holistic Biology  
Harvesting, Medicine Making, Field Trips, includes Whidbey Island Herb Gathering August 24 - 26

Learning overview for herbal medicine apprenticeship

Apprentices participate in the monthly Advanced Materia Medica and Botanical Prescribing classes. This is a 13 month series so apprentices take classes on offer during their session, and can receive a 25% discount on registration for the remainder of the series.

As well as classroom and lecture time, there will be experiential learning by inquiry and collaborative activities outdoors and in the dispensary. 

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 


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

Pharmacy and medicine making
hifts in the herbal dispensary, as well as regular tutoring sessions, will allow a practical understanding of the use of herbs for medicine – formulating and prescribing for specific ailments. Throughout your stay we will make many medicines and discuss their pros and cons.
Learn to make a wide variety of remedies for different ailments and build your first aid kit.
-       water extractions – infusions, decoctions
-       solvent extractions – oils, tinctures
-       syrups
-       emulsions
-       steams
-       plasters and poultices
-       the herbal first aid kit


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 

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Guided reading will follow through several text books explaining how body systems work, how things go wrong and how to use herbs to heal. Students will work through case studies to understand principles and practice of phytotherapy.

Apprentices have access to an extensive library of books, videos and downloads on topics including herbal medicine, holistic healing, nutrition, gardening, food growing, harvesting and horticulture therapy. 

Course objectives

Innisfree Season 2012 from Emily - 0920.jpg

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




A 10 hour lecture series from chemistry to food, about our most recent understanding of life and biophilic science.

 The chemistry of Life
The building blocks, water, proteins, RNA, DNA, lipids, carbohydrates, communication molecules.
The big players
Archea, bacteria, protista.
Fungi, Plants and Animals
Physiology, behaviour, metabolism, symbiosis, root network, microbiome, soil animals, food web.
Organic and chemical agriculture, green revolution, gene revolution, pollution.



Approximate harvesting schedule in 2018 (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.

Road trips:

 Apprentices of session one will take part in a road trip to the Slocan Valley, BC. to attend The Kootenay Herb Conference  June 1 - 3th. 

Apprentices of session three will take part in a road trip to Whidbey Island WA to attend the “Botanicals at the Beach”  herb symposium August 23-26, 2018.    

Registration / Attendance for both of the gatherings is covered by the fees paid for the Apprenticeship, and Innisfree shall rent a vehicle to transport us all, but apprentices shall be responsible for booking and paying their own accommodation and meal plans during these events and shall contribute towards gas and ferry costs.

Apprentices of session three must have valid documentation for entry to US if they wish to attend the herbal gathering on Whidbey Island. 

Please note:

Apprentices are required to have a current and valid tetanus shot before arriving at Innisfree.



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, 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 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.