We recently interviewed Herbal Academy student, Elliot Durt, who completed The Mushroom Course through our option of online courses. In his travels, Elliot enjoys exploring different forests and bioregions, learning about the different native herbs and medicinal plants that grow in each area. You can find him on Instagram at @the.durt.family.
HA: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started your path into herbalism.
Elliot Durt: My name is Elliot, and I am a queer non-binary parent. I am traveling full-time right now with my husband Matthew and our three-year-old daughter Uma. We are living in a converted cargo van gathering inspiration for the next chapter of our life. Our goal is to find land we can steward and raise our children surrounded by community.
In my early twenties, I moved out of my apartment and into a house with my now husband and several roommates. It had a large unruly backyard. The fence had countless mulberry trees growing through it and much of the lawn had been overtaken by daylilies. I decided to dig up a patch of earth and attempt to grow a garden. I found myself more captivated by the “weeds” and wild plants that were growing in the disrupted soil more than I cared about my tomato and pepper plants. I decided to search the internet to see what I could find out about these plants. I learned of all of the native and naturalized plants that grow in the Great Plains and all about their medicinal properties and lore. Soon, my garden was filled with elderberry bushes, yarrow, hyssop, calendula, and more.
HA: Why did you choose to pursue your herbal education with the Herbal Academy?
Elliot Durt: Being a full-time parent makes it challenging for me to carve out consistent time for myself during the day and being able to do a self-paced course online was ideal to me.
HA: Tell us, what’s next for you in your herbal journey?
Elliot Durt: As we continue to explore different bioregions, it is so fun to learn about the different native herbs and medicinal plants that grow in each area. It’s been so fun to meet new plants as we travel coastlines and different forests. I am looking forward to settling down again someday and tending to elaborate medicinal gardens.
HA: What did you like most about your Herbal Academy course?
Elliot Durt: The course was very comprehensive and detailed, while also being beginner-friendly. I loved that the course explored all facets of the topic, from lore to anatomy and everything in between. I appreciated all of the beautiful images and interviews throughout, as I am a very visual learner.
HA: If you were to recommend an Herbal Academy course to your best friend, what would you say?
Elliot Durt: If you are looking to begin your journey with herbalism or want to deepen the knowledge you already have, taking a course through Herbal Academy will assure that you are receiving a trustworthy, thoughtful, and thorough education. Not only that, but it will also give you access to invaluable resources and teachers. Look no further.
HA: Do you enjoy the Herbal Academy online community? If so, what specifically do you enjoy?
Elliot Durt: Herbal Academy’s Instagram is how I first discovered their courses. I found myself always returning to their page to explore the recipes, interviews, photographs, and ideas. They have connected me with so many teachers and herbalists that I now follow for daily inspiration and teachings.
HA: How has your herbal education deepened your connection with your personal health and well-being?
Elliot Durt: Drinking herbal infusions has become such an important ritual for me. I love to sweeten them with honey and to drink them in the warm sun with bare feet on the earth. It feels so healing to my body and my soul to have the essence and magic of these plants entering me. I like to reflect on the healing properties of each plant that I am drinking and I thank them for healing my body and helping me maintain vitality.
HA: If 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?
Elliot Durt: I have always been very excited by dandelion. I really appreciate its boldness and persistence. It’s such a provocative plant, and I am always really inspired by provocative things. Its bold yellow flowers in the spring are so fiery and joyous. And when dandelion goes to seed, I love how airy and dreamy they become. But also, they are deeply grounded in the earth. I can’t help but smirk when I see one coming up through the concrete.
HA: What is the biggest way that herbalism has brightened your life?
Elliot Durt: Learning about herbalism has allowed me to become familiar with so many herbal allies that grow all around me. Everywhere I go, whether it’s on a hike in the forest or in an urban neighborhood, I see these plants growing, and I witness them as mysterious and magical friends that are all around us. It makes me feel so connected with and embraced by the earth.
HA: How do you find yourself incorporating herbalism into your daily life?
Elliot Durt: Ever since completing the Mushroom Course, I love exploring the forests of the different bioregions we travel to and seeing the types of mushrooms that grow there. It immediately makes me feel connected to each new place.
HA: What is the biggest challenge you face in your personal or clinical herbal practice?
Elliot Durt: Now that we live on the road, I am away from the bioregion that I am familiar with. I also no longer have an herbal garden that I can harvest from. Since I no longer have the same confidence in identifying the plants around me, I usually find myself just admiring the different herbs that grow around me, rather than harvesting them.
HA: What is your favorite herbalism resource (book, podcast, movie) and why?
Elliot Durt: I return to the work of Wolf-Dieter Storl often, and have read ‘The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners: The Healing Power of Medicinal Plants’ many times over. All of my ancestors are from Europe, and reading of the ways they connected with medicinal plants, and the lores and stories they told of them has made me feel so connected to my ancestors as I deepen my own relationship with these plants.
HA: If you could provide any tip or encouragement to those just starting their herbal studies, what would it be?
Elliot Durt: Allow your relationship with herbal allies to be deeply personal. Sit with a plant, close your eyes and feel its presence. Watch how it shifts and changes through the growing season. Form a true relationship with the plant while you learn about its properties and benefits.