Anna Warkentin

“It’s not very complicated, and you don’t need to be a doctor,” says Carol Wade, who runs the Ojai School of Herbal Studies at Earth Island Herbs, describing her practice of growing herbs to address common ailments. “But when you’re using herbs, you want some level of education.”

Her mission is to empower people with practical knowledge of the many native and locally adapted garden plants available to support balanced health. Wade draws upon her lifelong study of international and regional herbal traditions to lead tours and teach classes in progressive nutrition.

“One of the major issues of our culture is the level of constant stress,” said Wade, fussing over a clump of lemon balm. “This is a plant to go to at the end of a stressful day.”

Wade brings a whole spectrum of healing to her work, including the use of fresh air and sweat, and believes that just working in a garden promotes well-being. She expects students to dirty their hands alongside her as they make seasonal salves, essential oils, and teas from the plot. One of her most popular products is a balm that helps fight poison oak.

Wade is also focused on using garden techniques that are good for the planet, like the frugal and creative hardscaping she’s installed with repurposed materials often meant for landfills. She also incorporates xeriscaping, or low irrigation, methods to show gardening options for those that live where water is sparse. Said Wade, “Our lives are enriched by this kind of thinking.”

When asked how far medicinal plants can take the infirm, Wade replied, “Where herbal medicine shines is for chronic degenerative-type diseases.” But she later added that it also has many benefits for acute viral and bacterial infections, women’s health, and many common ailments.

Sign up for a tour or enroll in the 18-month education programs at


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.