Many Hands Community Apothecary

What is the Many Hands Community Apothecary (MHCA)?

The MHCA is a group of garden beds located in the Farm at Awbury, which are cared for and supported by Awbury Arboretum’s nine-month Herbal Aid Ed course.

What is the Herbal Aid Ed course?

Herbal Aid Ed is a 9-month course of study designed and facilitated by community herbalist Alyssa Schimmel to celebrate herbal community wisdom and practice through community growing and production of plant medicines to serve collective care.

The program covers an introduction to 40+ plants from a range of cross-cultural traditions, weaving together the wisdom from many hands and many lands that includes cultivated, wild, and native medicines of our Philadelphia bioregion on the ancestral indigenous territory of the Lenni Lenape / Wingohoking. Each class includes hands-on time in the MHCA garden covering various growing methods, as well as medicine processing methods including infusions, decoctions, tinctures, salves, infused honeys, vinegars, electuaries, syrups, flower essences, incense, powders, soaks, and more with a seasonal focus.

During each monthly class, students make shares of medicine for personal, family, and community distribution and become healing advocates in their community. The program also hosts ongoing opportunities for wider community engagement during garden volunteer days and medicine making sessions and will include future speaker series and on-off classes.

Students leave with medicines they’ve made which will include extras for them to share and the making of additional medicines to support community distribution offerings, widening the reach of these shared learnings.  In 2021, Herbal Aid Ed participants distributed over 200 pieces of herbal medicine including salves, teas, glycerites, electuaries, and oxymels to the Germantown community!

Registration for

Herbal Aid Ed 2022 is closed.

Herbal Aid Ed 2022 will meet April through December.

2022 Classes – first Sundays of the month, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM: April 3rd, May 1, June 5th, July 3rd, Aug 7th, Sept 4th, Oct 2nd, Nov 6th, and Dec 4th

2022 (optional) Garden Days – various Wednesdays, 4:00 – 6:00 PM: April 20th, May 18th, June 22nd, July 13th, Aug 17th, Oct 12th, Nov 16th

Leader Alyssa Schimmel is a community herbalist, licensed massage therapist, gardener, grower, teacher, and forager passionate about sharing knowledge of regional food and medicine ways in community. She serves as the course designer and program lead of Many Hands Community Apothecary & Garden at The Farm at Awbury Arboretum, a mutual-aid herbal education program and community medicine network. She previously served as Education Director of The Philadelphia Orchard Project where she developed the School Orchard Program serving 14 K-12 schools and has collaborated with Awbury Arboretum teaching medicine making to youth of the Teen Leadership Program, catering seasonal dinners alongside Chef Gail Hinson and teaching medicine making and wild foods classes through Wild Foodies.  She has also taught at institutions including Swarthmore College, Haverford College, The Village, and more.  Her training includes studies through Wild Ginger Community Herbal Center, Sky House School of Herbal Medicine, Human Path school, Mountain Gardens, and formal study through David Winston’s School of Herbal Medicine.

Questions?  Please contact Alyssa at