Welcome to another installment of our Student Feature series! We interviewed Jess Bergeron (@jkb.journal), graduate of Herbal Academy’s Mastering Herbal Formulation Course. Jess is a home herbalist and focuses on educational and inspirational content on her Instagram page. You can also find her on her web page, JKB Journal.
HA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started your path into herbalism.
Jess Bergeron: I was the child making medicines out of flowers and common weeds. I played with plantain and made poultices for my pets before I knew the herb’s name. I have always been interested in plants and the natural world. My studies brought me to Oahu where I graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in Ethnobotany. I married right around the same time and began my family. It was then that I realized the importance of home herbalism and natural health. I wanted to be my family’s primary health advocate and healer. Kitchen herbalism has been my passion for the last 20 years.
HA: Why did you choose to pursue your herbal education with the Herbal Academy?
Jess Bergeron: HA classes are self paced which is perfect for a busy mother of four! Some days I can move through lots of material and other days I am busy with household tasks. HA allows lifetime access so I am able to refer back to the information anytime I need a refresher. HA is an amazing resource for home-based herbal studies.
HA: Do you own an herbal business or brand?
Jess Bergeron: I am a home herbalist. I focus on educational and inspirational content. I do not have an herbal business.
HA: Tell us, what’s next for you in your herbal journey?
Jess Bergeron: Herbalism…folk/home/kitchen herbalism is a lifelong journey. My studies will never end. I hope to be the primary health provider for my grandchildren. As for the short term, I will be releasing recipe ebooks monthly on my new website to support home herbalists. They will be filled with accessible recipes and preparations that are easy to make and supportive for the whole family.
HA: What were you looking for when you enrolled in your Herbal Academy course that you were not able to find elsewhere?
Jess Bergeron: I wanted a refresher in my understanding of formulations. I am a medicine maker for my family and community. I was looking for a detailed description of extraction methods and plant constituents. There is so much to making herbal preparations at home and I want to make sure that my methods yielded the most potent creations possible. I found exactly what I was looking for.
HA: Do you enjoy the Herbal Academy online community? If so, what specifically do you enjoy?
Jess Bergeron: Yes! I am a regular to the HA Blog. There is so much inspirational content that is available for free in those articles. I visit almost daily for recipe inspiration and answers to common herbal questions.
HA: How has your herbal education deepened your connection with nature and the seasons?
My herbal education has deepened my connection to nature by making me feel like I am never alone. When we are on a hike or even wandering around the yard…I see plant allies everywhere. Plantain springs at our feet ready and willing to help with any bump or bruise. Everywhere I look, I feel like there is a green friend ready to lend a hand, and honestly, having four wildly beautiful, free-spirited children, I need all the help I can get.
HA: Do you feel empowered by your herbal practice?
Jess Bergeron: The more I learn about herbal medicine, the more empowered I feel. I am not reliant on outside opinions on health related topics. I feel as though I am well-informed and prepared as my family’s healer, and our kitchen is the first place we look for healing.
I have two boys…ages 9 and 11. They regularly come into the house with injuries and look to me as a calm and knowledgeable resource. It feels really good to be prepared with an herbal first aid kit and know how to stop bleeding or manage a super itchy bug bite.
HA: How do you find yourself incorporating herbalism into your daily life?
Jess Bergeron: My herbal kitchen is the heart of our home. Our daily lives are infused with some herbal remedies and wonderful immune-boosting herbs. I am always playing with brightly colored herbs like butterfly pea flowers and hibiscus to create sweet healthy treats. I make herbal aids for the kids that are full of minerals and sweetened with raw honey. I have lots of nourishing herbal sprinkles and salts that accompany our meals. Herbs are everywhere in our home.
HA: Is there is a specific herb that you feel particularly drawn to? If so, why do you think that is OR what is it about that plant that fascinates you?
Jess Bergeron: Yarrow has been an incredibly supportive herb for my family recently. It is one thing to read about a plant’s healing qualities, but it is an entirely different thing to experience it firsthand. My son cut his hand with a whittling knife a couple weeks ago and the bleeding would not stop. We applied pressure and held it above his heart but the bleeding was so intense that I could not see the actual wound and assess how deep the cut really was. I applied dried yarrow to the entire area and the bleeding stopped almost immediately. I was amazed and grateful for the help yarrow provided our family. Those moments can be scary and overwhelming, as every mother knows. Yarrow is truly a miraculous herb.
HA: If you were an herb, which herb would you be?
Jess Bergeron: Plantain. I think I would be plantain. Always there. Always around to help. Very reliable and always present.
HA: How has herbalism sparked your creativity?
Jess Bergeron: I could herbcraft all day every day and never run out of ideas. I appreciate that what I make can help my family and community ward off illness or return to health more easily. Herbcraft is functional art. I am inspired daily by my herbal practice.
HA: Has anything about herbalism – or your herbalism practice – been a pleasant surprise?
Jess Bergeron: My children have begun to create their own herbal practice separate from mine. They make their own infusions now, selecting herbs by name and brewing what they feel they need. It surprises me the knowledge that they receive just by being around my practice. I have never sat them down for formal herb studies. They have just learned by helping and watching me. I hope that this information will be passed down through generations.
HA: Are there any elements of your herbal education where you’re still struggling to find trustworthy, well-researched information?
Jess Bergeron: There are not a lot of resources for teaching children herbalism. I hope to contribute to this one day by creating a course that provides caregivers activities to teach children about common beneficial plants and their applications.
Read past student interviews with:
Dave Achula (@achula_) – Invites individuals to explore the healing power of nature, directly in nature; graduate of Intermediate Herbal Course
Dagny Kream (@thecottagepeach) – Slow-living inspiration: recipes, gardening, seasonal crafts, traditional skills, and more; graduate of the Botanical Skin Care Course
Laura Rubin (@nurtureforall) – Empowers others to live more joyfully through the amazing power of herbs, helping them to reconnect with your body and the Earth; graduate of Herbal Business Course
Serena Hartwell (@serenahartwell) – Forager, photographer, herbalist, and graduate of Intermediate Herbal Course and Emulsifiers and Preservatives in Botanical Products: 2 Part Intensive
Andrea Minniti (@divinebalanceco) – Writer, wildcrafted recipe creator, and graduate of The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course and Intermediate Herbal Course
Jess Buttermore (@cedarhouseliving) – Graduate of the Botanical Mixed Drinks Workshop, photographer, gardener, and business owner.
Robin Ahrens (@barberryherbal) – Advanced Herbal Course graduate and herbalism educator.
Sarah Jaroch (@evidence_of_providence) – Business Herbal Course graduate, copywriter for herbalists, and online marketer.