2015 Herb Gatherings in the Pacific Northwest

Compiled and reviewed by Michael Pilarski, January 27, 2015 version
In 2003 I published an article titled “22-Year History of Herb Gatherings and Conferences in the Pacific Northwest”. It was a list of herbal events from 1980 to 2002 with a bit about their history, size, admission prices, etc. I have been publishing annual calendars off and on since then. Here is my 2015 list. 14 events in this version and 3 of them are starting in 2015. This information is offered as a service to the herbal community in general.
Bastyr Herb and Food Fair
May 30, 2015, Saturday. The 15thth Annual. A one-day, free event held in Seattle at the campus of Bastyr University at the north end of Lake Washington. Bastyr is one of the foremost naturopathic schools in the US. The gathering attracts up to 1,000. They always have a nice line-up of speakers, workshops, vendors and garden walks. Bastyr’s herb garden is one of the best I have seen and is well worth a visit anytime.
Breitenbush Herbal Conference
The oldest herbal gathering in the nation. Their 28th annual event happened September 4-7, 2014. Set, deep in the Cascades near Detroit, Oregon, Breitenbush Hot Springs is a great venue offering hot springs and ancient forests.  They always have a long list of excellent teachers.  A gathering of professionals.
Dandelion Seed Conference
Their 3rd annual was held on Oct 17-19, 2014 at The Evergreen State College. A benefit for the Olympia Free Herbal Clinic. A conference based on accessibility, empowerment, dismantling oppression, supporting community health and building herbal skills.
Green Gathering, Washington Annual, Supported by the American Herbalist Guild
June 5-6-7, 2015.
Join us for the second annual Green Gathering! During this three-day event we'll camp beside the beautiful beaches and towering trees of the Pacific Northwest (Camano Island State Park), celebrating our herbal community and shared love of the plants. We will have an incredible lineup of local teachers, a tea tent, bartering space, and entertainment as well as children's activities. Our theme in 2015 is Integrative Herbalism: Cultivating Professionalism in the Clinical and Community Setting. Cost for a 3-day pass $65 - includes camping and classes. We will be camping in the State Park so bring a tent.
Montana Herb Gathering
June 26th - 28th, 2015, Montana Learning Center, Helena MT.
A sweet, regional herb gathering which was started in 1998. The MHG is an annual event bringing together herbalists, wildcrafters, manufacturers, farmers, students and other herbal enthusiasts from across Montana and around our bioregion. The MHG always brings in a great set of teachers including notable herbalists from outside the region. Generally it attracts around 150 people. There was a three-year hiatus from 2004 to 2006. It was canceled in 2014. Great to see it back in 2015.
Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium
Session 1: May 15-18, 2015
Session 2: May 22-25, 2015
Session 3: September 4-7, 2015
The Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium began in 1991, as an inspiration from the Women Herbalist’s conference in southern Oregon, whose vision it was to see gatherings of this nature all across the country. Three times a year women from many backgrounds of life gather together in great celebration for four full days of inspiring Herbal and Sustainability classes, gourmet vegetarian meals, talented campfire capers, amazing handcrafted marketplace items, Rites-of-Passage Ceremonies, powerful campfire drumming and dancing, refreshing swimming hole dips, and conversations with remarkable & inspiring women!
Northwest Herb Symposium
August 27-30, 2015
Hosted at the historic Camp Casey on Whidbey Island.
 Pacific Women's Herbal Conference
September 25, 26, 27, 28, 2015, Monroe, WA
4th annual. Women gathering in the Wise Woman Tradition of Healing. Join us for a gathering of women in the Cascadia foothills, swimming in a warm lake, under a full moon lunar eclipse, fire circles, delicious local food...If that is not enough, we'll throw in experiential workshops, a talent show, massage, reiki, herbal medicine making, practical skill building, herb walks and so much more to nourish and tonify ourselves, our families, our planet.
Plants enChant
July 31 - Aug. 2, 2015. Near Salem, Oregon
Another brand-new herb gathering in 2015. Plants enChant is a gathering intended to develop and strengthen medicine culture thru the healing arts of education, songs, ceremony, community.   It recognizes ‘medicines’ as the force of nature that cures dis-ease, that takes us from being sick to being free.  This event aligns more with ‘deep herbalism’, which cultivates a relationship thru plants to the healing presence of Nature. It recognizes plants as the greenprint of all medicines.  It acknowledges plants as elders in the society of nature as it exists on planet earth, and therefore teachers to the adolescent human species.
Portland Plant Medicine
Started in 2009. A small, regionally-focused, exciting gathering. Their 2014 event (6th annual) was held November 15-16-17. The Portland Plant Medicine Gathering is an event that happens yearly in the late Fall in Portland, Oregon.  It is a time for us to celebrate the plants and their medicine and share knowledge with one another.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to be surrounded by so many powerful plant allies and so many amazing Herbalists and Teachers. 
Inland Northwest Herbalists Gathering and Spokane Herbal Fair
May 8-10, 2015
This is a first time event which we hope will become an annual herb gathering. Friday and Saturday is a rural, camp-out event for herbalists and herbal students. It will focus on workshops, getting acquainted, and round tables to share information, insights and questions. Sunday will be a large herbal products trade show in Spokane which the general public can attend by donation. Herbalists from around the Inland Northwest, and beyond, are invited to participate. The goal is to have an event that meets the needs of herbalists and people seriously interested; and, at the same time, host an event which draws in hundreds of people wanting an introduction and interested in seeing what products and services are available. We are looking for workshop teachers and exhibitors. Anyone interested should email Michael Pilarski. [email protected]
Spring Equinox Herbalist Gathering
Two Equinox gatherings yearly, Spring and Autumn.  Held at Darcy Williamson’s Mavens’ Haven Retreat in McCall, Idaho. Each Equinox brings in around 50 students.  When junior apprentices graduate to senior apprentices, their obligation to the program is to teach.  Mavens' Haven offers an opportunity to practice and refine their teaching skills.  The senior apprentices put together small, intimate classes with 8 to 12 students, pick their topic and the length of time they need to teach it and set their price.  Their classes don't have to be herb related, but they need to be hands-on for their students. 
Traditional Roots Herbal Conference!
May 15-17, 2015. 2nd annual
This conference is for clinicians, community herbalists and everyone interested in herbal medicine as a key component to reclaiming health.  National College of Natural Medicine. Portland, Oregon. We’ll have sessions covering constitutional evaluation, herbal energetics, formulation, hands-on medicine making, gardening with medicinal plants, bioregional herbalism and wildcrafting, and botanical field applications. Sponsorships range from $1500 to $10,000.
Viridis Genii Symposium: Magic, Mysticism, & Medicine
July 31st, August 1st & 2nd, 2015 in Damascus, Oregon.  1st Annual.
Our goal is to be the first herbal conference to offer a holistic multidisciplinary and multicultural awareness and approach to the study of plants from the perspective of magick. Herbal Alchemy, Wortcunning, Ethno botany and the magickal use of plants, Wild crafting with spirit, Herbal Astrology, Medicine with a focus on spiritual herbal practice, Shamanry, Witchcraft, Indigenous Traditional plant wisdom, Entheogen studies and ritual practice, The role of plants in ceremonial magick traditions, Herbal Charms and Talismans, Artists whose main body of work focuses on plants, craft brewing and distilling, and much more.
Northwest Herbal Fair
Not happening in 2015. The 4th year in a row of no show.
A short history. The Northwest Herbal faire ran for 10 consecutive years from 1996 to 2005. There was a 5-year hiatus and then the 11th was held in 2011. Michael Pilarski has always been one of the main coordinators. The NHF has traditionally been held at the River Farm on the south fork of the Nooksack River outside of Van Zandt, near Bellingham, Washington. The only one of the first ten not held there was the 9th NHF, 2004, near Leavenworth in eastern Washington. Back at Van Zandt in 2005 for the tenth annual event we had our largest crowd ever with 1,200 attending. Another fantastic time but there was a fire event that took the wind out of our sails. No NHFs were held between 2006 and 2010. In 2011 the original organizing team got back together at a new venue in Skagit County, the Fire Mountain Scout Camp outside of Sedro Woolley.  It was a great venue and we had a sweet time. 900 people attended. We had 75 presenters, 125 workshops, 65 vendors and a full line of stage entertainment. It was awesome. Alas, Fire Mountain Camp wasn’t available in 2012, so we lost our momentum and are wandering in the desert (excuse me, I mean we are all incredibly busy). Another resurrection is possible. I am currently compiling a list of people willing to help organize another NHF. Anyone interested should email Michael Pilarski. [email protected]
Every one of these gatherings is worth going to. The more herb gatherings the merrier in my opinion. Small, large, local, regional, national, international. They each fill a niche, Each has its own unique flavor. I love to go to herbal gatherings to learn and interact. Some people on the herb gathering national circuit go to many herb gatherings every year.  How many do you attend?
People go to herbal gatherings for many reasons:
* Exchange of information.  The exchange of information takes place in many ways. Workshops, keynote speeches, panels, and round tables as well as the huge amount of dialogue that takes places in the hallways, trade shows and mealtimes. 
* Build a network of friends and associates.  Friendships are perhaps the most important aspect of these gatherings. Friendships lead to collaboration, cooperation, synthesis, and inspiration.
* Boost the energy of participants by being in a large peer group. Large gatherings are invigorating and the effects last long after the event is over.
* Reach the general public and mentoring of young/new people interested in herbs. 
* Herb gatherings are great places to get insights on how to deal with health challenges
Please send additions or corrections to Michael Pilarski:

MICHAEL “SKEETER” PILARSKI is a life-long student of plants and earth repair. His farming career started in 2nd grade and his organic farming career began in 1972 at age 25. Michael founded Friends of the Trees Society in 1978 and took his first permaculture design course in 1982. Since 1988 he has taught 36 permaculture design courses in the US and abroad. His specialties include earth repair, agriculture, seed collecting, nursery sales, tree planting, fruit picking, permaculture, agroforestry, forestry, ethnobotany, medicinal herb growing, hoeing and wildcrafting. He has hands-on experience with over 1000 species of plants. He is a prolific gathering organizer and likes group singing.