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April 2024 HerbWalks & OjaiHerbal Newsletter

Welcome to April of 2024, the first full month of Spring, and to the HerbWalks & OjaiHerbal newsletter. Last month I added this column to the newsletter, a place where I can speak heart to heart with you (and hear back from you, too). I hope to use this column to build an herbal community of kindred spirits coming together around a shared love of Nature and a mutual enjoyment of sharing Nature with others in a myriad of ways, including sharing our thoughts. I’m not sure how this column will evolve but I’m curious to find out.


One reader accepted my offer to respond to this column by sending such a long, glowing review of Herb Walks and my book that, frankly, I’m embarrassed to share it here, even though I admitted last month to being a shameless self-promoter. (You know who you are, dear writer. Thank you for the kind words. You inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing.) See the offer again at the bottom of this column. If you find this space intriguing, please send questions or topics you would enjoy reading about.


Now that I’m 77,  I seem to be entering an "age of acceptance." I don't just mean an acceptance of my advanced years and my looming mortality. That awareness is certainly part of it but I'm experiencing a larger acceptance of the world (humanity) and of the planet (Gaia), just the way they are.  Again, by acceptance I don’t mean hanging my head and resigning myself to living in an imperfect world of imperfect humans like me on a constantly changing planet that can morph from rainbows to volcanic eruptions at any time. I know I will never stop trying to make myself a better human and do what I can to improve the part of the planet around me that I have some influence over. At the same time, I think I'm finally able to let some things be — without feeling I have to mobilize my energy to fix them.


This new state of mind came about because of the greening of Ojai after all the abundant rain we’ve had this winter. I found myself marveling at the sun backlighting the neon green in the grassy fields and hillsides. While I always appreciate the lush, green growth of early spring, especially among the native plants, my go-to thought when I see the grasses, the mustards, and the thistles is “non-native weeds,” or “invasive species.” On herb walks, I talk about the history of  “type conversion” of our natural plant communities from natives to weeds. And I support efforts like those of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to marshal volunteers on their preserves to remove the bad invasives and leave more room for the good natives.


This spring, though, I’m able to appreciate the weeds, too. They don’t know they’re weeds. They're just innocent players in Mother Nature’s plan to cover the Earth with green wherever it's bare. It's a beautiful thing! And it turns out that the greening has a positive psychological effect on us humans. Not that we needed scientists to tell us green landscapes make us feel good, but a 2016 study found that living in or near green areas was linked with longer life expectancy and improved mental health in female participants. The study found that “green, natural environments may ameliorate adverse environmental exposures (e.g., air pollution, noise, and extreme heat), increase physical activity and social engagement, and lower stress.”


Ironically, I just missed National Weed Appreciation Day on March 28, so it’s too late to officially celebrate it this year but, as fate would have it, I received my monthly newsletter from the Channel Islands Chapter of the California Native Plant Society announcing their Wildflower and Weed Show on Saturday, April 20, in Santa Paula. I'll be leading a hike in Santa Barbara that day so I'll have to miss it this year but I plan to celebrate weeds and keep eating them — wherever I am. Will you join me?

P. S. Please email me at if, at any time now or in the future, something in this column triggers a thought, a response, a question, or a suggestion. Thanks.
April Events
 Wheeler Gorge Nature Hike
Saturday, April 6
Please click on the photo above or read the article down below to learn more and sign up for this encore visit to the Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail. It was scheduled when the February hike sold out. Register now before this one fills up. It's well on its way.
 Nature Education Walk at Taft Preserve
Saturday, April 13
My monthly Natural History Walks at Taft Nature Preserve have been renamed "Nature Education Walks" but the substance and location are still the same. Please visit the link behind the photo above to learn more and sign up.
 Ojai Wild Food Experience
with Lanny & Rondia
Sunday, April 14
Please click on the photo above or read the article down below to learn more and sign up for this special hands-on event, rescheduled due to rain. There's already a list of folks who registered for the original date so don't delay if you want to join us.
 Herb Walk on San Antonio Creek Trail
Saturday, April 20
With all the rain we've had this winter and spring, you can expect a lush landscape on this creekside trail out of Tucker's Grove County Park in Goleta. This time of year we can expect to find California Bay, Mugwort, Indian Lettuce, California Blackberry, Hummingbird Sage, Black Sage, and Wild Rose, among others. Click on the photo above to learn more.
 Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike & After-Party
Wednesday, April 24
Click on the photo above of the moon rising over Ojai by Joe P. Powers to read more and and join me and Rondia for our signature monthly event. Find out how we take fun-filled learning to the next level with a plant hike, moonrise viewing and after-party at Ojai Valley Brewery's heated outdoor patio where we sample beers crafted with local herbs.

“Herbal Tools for Tumultuous Times” -

A Garden Workshop with Carol Wade

Saturday, April 27
There's so much to look forward to at this special event: a tour of the beautiful Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden in the Ojai Valley with garden founder Carol Wade, gathering medicinal herbs around a timely theme, and making herbal remedies to take home. Plus, we're offering CEUs for California Acupuncturists. Please click on the photo montage above or read the article down below to learn more and sign up.
You can order my book by visiting this link or clicking on the book cover image above. Then at checkout you can use the “Order notes (optional)” field to request a simple autograph or a book signed to you or that special person who's receiving it as a gift. This personal touch is something not available when purchasing on Amazon. Plus you can support my authorship financially by buying directly from me. Thank you! 
If you're out and about at any of these outstanding businesses (and please do support them!), you can find my book on the shelf: in Ojai at Evergreen WellnessFarmer & the Cook, Krotona Quest BookshopOjai Cannabis Company, Ojai Valley Brewery, Ojai Valley MuseumRainbow Bridge, Sespe Creek Collective, and Westridge Market Midtown; in Ventura at Ema's Herbs, Green Thumb NurseryTimbre Books, and Ventura Spiritsin Sun Valley at Theodore Payne Foundation;  in Goleta at Island Seed & Feed; and, among many other places, at REI stores and Barnes & Noble locations throughout California. (All store names above are listed in alphabetical order within each city.)
If you own my book or you're considering it, here's another reminder to click on the following link for the free hyperlinked bibliography I created to save you the hassle of copying long URLs from the printed page to your browser for the web sources cited in the book.
Herb Walks Events
Herb Walks with Lanny Kaufer is California Acupuncture Board Provider #1526 
California LAc's! CEUs now offered for you at Herb Walks workshops!  
We are thrilled to announce that Herb Walks with Lanny Kaufer is now offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for licensed California acupuncturists for selected workshops. Here are the current offerings. Please visit the links below for more information:
Join my friend and colleague,  master herbalist David Crow, for a free online event
Synergizing Herbs & Nutraceuticals for Full-body Health
Most of you already know that combining herbs and nutraceutical supplements in a holistic way can help you obtain full-body health and prevent and treat a range of physical, mental, and emotional issues.
But did you also know that using herbs and supplements can potentially aggravate symptoms if you don’t know how to properly combine them?
Master herbalist David Crow, a previous keynote speaker at the Ojai Herbal Symposium, will explain it all in this free online event, including a demonstration of mixing and formulating teas, tinctures, and nutraceutical products.
Learn more and sign up by April 11 at this link.
Click on the photo above by James Wapotich to learn about the San Antonio Creek Herb Walk on Saturday, April 20.
The Wheeler Gorge Nature Hike returns this coming Saturday, April 6
We'll be looking for the pink blossoms of the wild Canyon Pea  ( Lathyrus laetiflorus).

The February hike sold out quickly so I scheduled another to accommodate all those who want to visit this special place just 9 miles up scenic Highway 33 from Ojai. Please join me on Saturday, April 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for another nature hike on the Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail.


The trail loop is less than 1 mile long and features a rushing mountain stream under a canopy of trees, long views of the surrounding mountains, and plenty of native plants for identifying, demonstrating and discussing their many uses by foragers, herbalists, and naturalists for food, herbal medicine, first aid, home remedies, survival, crafts, ceremony and more.


This time of year we can expect to find Coast Live Oaks, White Alders, Mugwort, California Blackberry, Black Sage, Chamise, Canyon Pea (see photo above), and Soap Plant, among many others. Poison Oak will also be identified (and avoided).


Participants will receive an email afterwards with a plant list (including common and scientific names) and other useful notes.

Click here to learn more and register.
After closing for all of 2023 for repairs and enduring even more rain this winter, Highway 33 North into the Los Padres National Forest out of Ojai is open again. Just plan on a little more time to get through several stoplights at one-lane sections.
The completed work once again provides access to the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail, and most of the Ojai Ranger District (ORD) of the Los Padres National Forest, although the current Forest Closure Order limiting some campground and trail access is in effect through August 31, 2024, or until further notice. Ojai Ranger District closures are limited only to Matilija Canyon where the access road is still closed by CalTrans.
Wheeler Gorge, Rose Valley and Holiday Group Campground are now open by reservation or first-come, first-served. Pine Mountain campgrounds and trailheads and
Nordhoff Ridge Road are still closed for the winter season and will reopen in May 2024. 
For the latest complete info on Ojai District road closures, trails, campgrounds, permits and more, click on the USFS logo above. You can navigate to the. Santa Barbara District and others from there.
The Ojai Ranger Station/District Office is now open Thursday through Saturday from 9:00am - 2:00pm.
Other Local Events of Interest
Foraged salad at last year's Wild Food Experience, including Indian Lettuce, Sage flowers, Arugula, Wild Fennel stalk, and Wild Mustard flowers.
Ojai Wild Food Experience rescheduled for Sunday, April 14

Please join me and my wife Rondia on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for our second Ojai Wild Food Experience. The event will begin with a morning foraging walk on the grounds of Euterpe Farms' outdoor study area overlooking the Ventura River Preserve. After the walk, hands-on food processing activities will take place under an oak tree to prepare a vegetarian community meal. 


You will:

  • learn to identify and forage edible plants of the season
  • make a salad with wild greens and flowers gathered on the property
  • prepare a main dish with wild herbs and vegetables gathered on the property
  • process acorns for making Apache acorn cakes
  • prepare elderflower fritters for dessert
  • process wild black walnuts to top off the meal

To read more and register, click on the salad image above or  this link.

Click on the photo above by Joe P. Powers to learn about the April Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike & After-Party on Wednesday, April 24.
Ojai herbalist, gardener and teacher Carol Wade in the Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden
Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden Workshop with Carol Wade

On Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., herbalist-gardener-teacher Carol Wade of Ojai School of Herbal Studies and the Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden will lead a workshop — “Herbal Tools for Tumultuous Times” — on using plants to cultivate a state of mental resilience and hope as we move through unsettling times.


During a morning herb walk through the Garden led by Carol and me, you’ll enjoy the beautiful vistas as you learn how to grow and care for some of the many herbal allies that live in the Garden.  You’ll also learn the properties of plants that we’ll process in the afternoon hands-on  workshop. We’ll use herbs we’ve gathered to make healing products to take home, such as:

  • Resiliency Tea
  • Aromatherapy or Foot Massage Oil
  • Foot Bath Blend
  • Small Smudge Bundle
ACUPUNCTURE CEUs: This course has been approved by the California Acupuncture Board, Provider Number 1526, for 7 hours of continuing education.
Learn more and sign up by clicking on the image above or this link.
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