Wild Wisdom: a multi-season, hands-on foraging series

Wild Wisdom is a program that 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 Many Hands Community Apothecary garden on-site at Awbury Arboretum 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.

In 2023, Wild Wisdom is being offered in a new model of as 4, 3-hour workshops representing each season’s bountiful harvest: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each class can be taken as an independent one-off class or discounted as a 4-part series.

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 will 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 400 pieces of herbal medicine including salves, teas, glycerites, electuaries, and oxymels to the Germantown community!

Registration for the full 4-season Wild Wisdom 2023 is full. Spaces are still available to join for winter.

Click here to register

The classes will be offered on the following dates, with an optional and open community wild-food potluck to follow!

  • Spring – April 15th, 11 am – 2 pm, Potluck 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm

  • Summer – June 17th, 11 am- 2 pm, Potluck 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm

  • Fall – September 23rd, 11 am – 2 pm, Potluck 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm

  • Winter – November 18th, 11 am – 2 pm, Potluck 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Students enrolled will receive a 4-season, full-color harvest calendar. Students can optionally decide to purchase a 50-card full-color I.D. and recipe card deck at the time of registration that can be mailed for a small fee, or provided during the student’s enrolled class.

Wild Wisdom Potluck

Join us 4 times of year – spring, summer, fall, and winter – as part of our Wild Wisdom & Many Hands Garden & Apothecary Community potlucks.

Connect with new friends over wild-foraged dishes, share knowledge about plants of our region, and enjoy delicious dishes prepared lovingly by the Awbury community. Potlucks will follow this year’s Wild Wisdom quarterly classes and be a great opportunity for students to practice what they’ve learned in plant I.D., cooking, and medicine making.

Everyone is welcome to join and is not limited to those who have been enrolled in classes!

Events may also include activities like plant or seed swaps, book swaps, medicine shares, etc.

Please bring a dish to share as well as a label including all ingredients. Dish does not have to include foraged ingredients. To be mindful of the earth, please bring your own reusable dish, bowl, cup and utensils

Instructor Bio

WILD WISDOM is designed and taught by Alyssa Schimmel. The long-form 10-month program was founded in 2019 in collaboration with Lynn Landes, founder of the Wild Foodies of Philly, an educational organization that was started in 2010, and Heather Zimmerman, Executive Director of Awbury Arboretum. The program ran from 2019-2022 as a hybrid in-person and online offering.

Alyssa Schimmel

A community herbalist, licensed massage therapist, gardener, teacher, and forager, she is passionate about sharing knowledge of regional food and medicine in the community. She serves as the course designer and program lead of Many Hands Community Apothecary Herbal Aid Ed at The Farm at Awbury Arboretum,  a mutual-aid herbal education program, and community medicine network. Previously serving as the Education Director of The Philadelphia Orchard Project, Alyssa developed the School Orchard Program serving 14 K-12 schools, has collaborated with Awbury Arboretum teaching medicine-making to the Teen Leadership Program, catered seasonal dinners alongside Chef Gail Hinson and taught medicine-making through Wild Foodies. She has also taught at institutions including Swarthmore College, Haverford College, The Village, and more.  Her training includes studies through WildGinger 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 wildwisdom@awbury.org.



What past Wild Wisdom Students have to say about the course:

“Thanks so much. It has been a fun and informative year!”

– Margaret, 2021

“The teachers are incredibly knowledgeable and Awbury Arboretum is the perfect location since we could simply walk out the door and and identify and harvest plants. The cook-off was an event we all thought would be difficult , but every group came together and made a fabulous dinner. My fellow classmates were creative and fun and added their own knowledge and expertise; group projects such as cooking and making medicines (tinctures, concoctions and more) were a joy! Plus we got to take lots of our creations home.”

– Shanna, 2019

Now when I go for a walk in the city or a hike in the woods, I can identify and collect so many edible plants. We learned lots of different ways to use foraged plants including infused honey, wild green salads, medicinal tinctures and floral infusions.”

– Kristen, 2019

“The Foraging Intensive course has been amazing! I don’t remember enjoying a course I’ve taken as much as this one! It’s incredible how much we covered during the last several months. Each class is packed with so much information. All of the instructors – Lynn, Alyssa and Heather have been so generous sharing their extensive knowledge and experience. My classmates brought a wide range of experience that helped to expand my learning and appreciation for the class. This foraging intensive is well worth the investment. I would highly recommend it. I look forward to more classes with these wonderful teachers!” – Catherine, 2019

“The Wild Wisdom course helped re-introduce me to the plant biodiversity of the region. I grew up in the area but never thought much about the flora surrounding me, let alone the potential to use wild native and invasive plants for food or natural dyes. The course oriented me to the local sensibility of ubiquitous plants and drew me closer to the landscape. I also loved the environs of Awbury Arboretum and the Cope House. Visiting the arboretum monthly over the year was a highlight and becoming familiar with what was in bloom or what had already reached its prime was an intimate way to get to know a hidden gem in Philadelphia. The course has given me tools to decipher the regional landscape, harvest and prepare plants for consumption, and think more creatively about plant based dietary innovation.”

– Eliss, 2019

“The Wild Wisdom alchemy; one part veteran field knowledge Instructor, one part classically trained wild medicine guide, two parts student discovery and experimentation. The Wild Wisdom course is far from conventional but incorporates a variety of learning styles from visual to auditory to physical for a holistic approach to this fascinating and vast world.”

– Daniel, 2019

“Wild Wisdom is a wonderful nature course. I learned so much from this class – medicinal uses, crafting uses and the history of the plants. The class structure contains a “lecture” portion and practical hands on activity. It doesn’t matter if you know a lot or know nothing at all – this class is awesome!”

– Paulina, 2019