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March 2024 HerbWalks & OjaiHerbal Newsletter
Welcome to March of 2024 and to the HerbWalks & OjaiHerbal newsletter. I've been publishing this monthly newsletter since 2012. Maybe it's my age − I turned 77 in December − or maybe it's the looming 50th anniversary of Ojai & Southern California Herb Walks in 2026. Maybe it was Emily Watson of Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing asking to interview me for a March webinar on "The History of Ojai Herb Walks." Whatever the reason, I've been reflecting on that history and feeling grateful for all of you who support this educational endeavor with your participation, for my wonderful teachers, for my plant friends/teachers, and for everyone who has been a part of my path.
 So I decided it was time to add this introspective column to the newsletter, a place where I can speak heart to heart with you (and hear back from you, too) rather than pitch my wares − my experiential offerings − as I do in the columns below where I must don my "shameless self-promoter" cap. What gives me the chutzpah to allow myself this indulgence, this bully pulpit? It's my confidence in you, dear reader, knowing when to continue reading and when it's time for you to move on. You are not a captive audience. But if you're still with me...
When I set up my first website,, in 2011 I was surprised to find my chosen domain name was available, as-is, without having to add some other word in front of or behind it. At first, I simply recognized that herb walks were such a foreign concept that no one else would want that name. Next, I was emboldened by the opportunity. I envisioned an all-encompassing website that could be a hub for all herb walks, plant-based nature walks, and herbal events everywhere. Then, in the ensuing years, I settled into the reality of the amount of time it takes just to manage my own herbal events, raise a family, work a full-time job on the side, run this small business, publish this newsletter,  and continue the work begun 48 years ago: introducing the concept − and the value − of an "herb walk" to the public.
I never lost that vision, though, of an herbal community (maybe even a team) of people like you and me coming together around a shared love of Nature and a mutual enjoyment of sharing Nature with others. I intend to use this column in the service of building that community. 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.
March Events
Foraging & Firemaking with Jim Robertson
Saturday, March 9
If you took the time to read my new Dear Reader column above, you know that community is on my mind today. I can think of no teacher who conveys that concept, who can create a village-for-a-day of nature learners, better than Jim Robertson. Please read the column down below or just click on the image above to find out more.
Spring Equinox/St. Patrick’s Day Walkabout at Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve: Sunday, March 17
Click on the photo above of the Topa Topa Bluffs seen from the Four Directions Circle or read the article down below to learn more.  Photo: Alexandra Nicklin
 Free Webinar on "The History of Ojai Herb Walks" on Thursday, March 21
Please join me and Emily Watson of Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing for a free Zoom webinar on the story of how Herb Walks and the Ojai Herbal Symposium came to be. She thought it would be of interest for those wanting to start an herb-related venture to hear from someone who began his in 1976. Just click on the image above to learn more.
 Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike & After-Party
Saturday, March 23
Click on the painting above or read the article down below to learn more about the next in our series of monthly full moon hikes. We are blessed to have such a special place here in "the valley of the moon" to see the moon rise and then to have hot food and local herb-infused beers afterwards.
My 6-week class in-person at CSU Channel Islands & online begins Wednesday, March 27
This slideshow lecture series of 6 weekly 2-hour sessions is available to those 50 years of age and older who register with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Cal State University, Channel Islands. Click on this link to learn more and register. Click on the image above to see a hi-res version of the medicinal plant map published by the National Wholesale Druggists' Association in 1932 (back when pharmacists knew their herbs). We'll explore the fascinating twists and turns in the histories of medicine and pharmacy from our earliest ancestors to the present day, including the game-changing events at the beginning of the 20th century that made that map obsolete. Or is it obsolete? We'll answer that question, too.
 Ojai Wild Food Experience
Saturday, March 30
Last year's inaugural wild food experience in Ojai was a hit. So Rondia and I are bringing it back. We're moving it up 3 weeks on the yearly calendar to see what Mother Nature has to offer to our menu a little earlier in the spring. One thing we know is there will be a wild salad like the one above from the 2023 event. Yes, education can be fun and taste good, too.
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 listed in alphabetical order)
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
Jim Robertson igniting a tinder bundle at a private workshop with me in Ojai. 
Foraging & Firemaking with Jim Robertson on Saturday, March 9

Join me and renowned aboriginal skills expert Jim Robertson on Saturday, March 9, in Ojai for an outdoor Foraging & Firemaking workshop.

You will:

  • learn to identify edible, medicinal, and useful plants
  • learn and practice ancient hand drill and bow drill fire starting
  • practice all the steps from creating an ember to building a fire
The workshop will begin with a morning herb walk among the native plants on the fringes of Euterpe Farms, bordering the Ventura River Preserve. Plants used for fire making will be identified and discussed. The afternoon workshop will take place under an oak tree.
Everyone will have a chance to participate in all activities. All supplies and materials will be provided. Space is limited to allow for individual instruction for all participants.       


To read more and register, click on this link.

Click on the YouTube link to watch the HerbRally interview with Jess
Jess Starwood makes another star appearance in Ojai on March 10
As we go to press, Jess Starwood's Wild Mushroom Walk in Ojai has already filled up (no surprise there) but don't let that stop you from visiting the event listing at to sign up for the waiting list.
In the meantime, click on the image above to watch HerbRally's Mason Hutchinson interview Jess about her career and her wonderful book  Mushroom Wanderland.
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:
Spring Equinox/St. Patrick’s Day Walkabout at Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve on Sunday, March 17
The Four Directions Stone Circle seen from above. Photo: Lanny Kaufer

Please join me for a Spring Equinox/St. Patrick’s Day Walkabout at Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve on Sunday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “Walkabout” is an Australian term for a temporary return to traditional Aboriginal life, taken especially between periods of work or residence in modern society and usually involving a period of travel through the bush. That is what I have planned for us in observance of the Spring Equinox, although for a much shorter time than the traditional Australian journey and as a group instead of solo.


Coincidentally, March 17 is also St. Patrick’s Day. Long before St. Paddy and Christianity arrived in Ireland, the ancient Celts celebrated the Spring Equinox with a festival known as Ostara. This festival was a celebration of the end of winter and the start of the spring season. We will honor that “pagan” tradition as well.

Click here or on the photo above to learn more and register.
After closing for all of 2023 for repairs, 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-serve. Pine Mountain campgrounds and trailheads and
Nordhoff Ridge Road are closed for the winter season and will reopen in May 2024. 
A campfire ban on National Forest System lands in the Santa Barbara front country has been extended for two years due to the ongoing fire danger and the potential threat to downslope communities. This prohibition will remain in effect through Feb. 26, 2026.
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.
Thanks to Katrina G., Dersu Rhodes attended the February Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike and sent me this cool little painting afterwards. Click on the image to enlarge it. Turns out he's a very creative guy. Check out his website at this link. Thanks, Dersu!
Other Local Events of Interest
Painting: “A Cloud and Landscape Study by Moonlight” (1822) by Johan Christian Claussen Dahl. Click to enlarge.
Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike & After-Party  on Saturday, March 23

On Saturday evening, March 23, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m., my wife Rondia and I will lead a Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike above the Ojai Valley where we can watch the simultaneous sunset and full moonrise. From the trailhead we’ll gradually walk about 1.5 miles on a well used dirt road with gradual elevation gain to the vista point, stopping along the way to meet some valuable edible and medicinal native plants.


Then at 7:15 p.m. you’re invited to join us on Bryant Street at Ojai Valley Brewery's heated outdoor dining area where brewmasters Jeremy Haffner, Griffin Davis, and their staff will be pouring their amazing locally-sourced beers, ales. stouts and non-alcoholic beverages. They usually have a food truck and live music on Saturdays. If not Rondia will make chili for us to share. 


To read more and register, click on this link.

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 on Saturday, March 30

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.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Proves Effective in Modern Clinical Trial
(From Newsweek Magazine, November 10, 2023) 

A traditional Chinese medicine has been shown to be effective at reducing complications following a heart attack after a large-scale, clinical trial. The medicine, known as tongxinluo, is made of extracts derived from seven herbs and various animals.


The study, which has been published in JAMA (formerly The Journal of the American Medical Association), represents one of the first times that a traditional Chinese medicine has been tested in a large-scale, Western-style clinical trial.


The authors of the study, who include researchers from several Chinese universities and hospitals, in collaboration with experts from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) found that  tongxinluo reduced the risk of heart attacks (known as myocardial infarctions), deaths and other major cardiovascular complications for at least a year after a first heart attack.

Read the article at this link.
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