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Junior Herbalist Club

Junior Herbalist Club (JHC) was started in 2014 as a local scheme in Lancashire and proved so popular and successful that is has now grown into a network of clubs across the whole country.

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists are delighted to be proud supporters of the scheme, and we are committed to encouraging and supporting medical herbalists to run a Junior Herbalist Club in their area, giving children nationwide the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills that will benefit themselves and others for a lifetime.

Historically, the knowledge of hedgerow medicine was commonplace. Most people knew which plants they could gather and how to use them to treat minor injuries and ailments. Unfortunately, this knowledge is becoming lost, with very few people nowadays able to correctly identify and utilise our native common weeds or cultivated garden plants.

Children are wonderful students, especially when it comes to herbs because they have no preconceived ideas of how a plant may work in the body or how it may be used for healing. It isn’t only fruit and vegetables that can help to keep us healthy – all plants, including herbs and weeds have importance and value in supporting our health.
As adults, we readily accept that oranges contains lots of vitamin C, and bananas contains lots of potassium, and with the correct teaching and guidance, children will readily accept that chamomile is soothing to the nervous system, peppermint can help to settle the stomach and comfrey can help heal wounds and scars. Providing a good foundation in plant education and herbal medicine will stay with children for the rest of their lives and even though they may not choose to become professional herbalists, they will have a good basic understanding of herbs and hedgerow medicine which is a wonderful gift that they will one day be able to share with their own friends and family.

The aim of JHC is to let children learn about the healing and medicinal plants all around them in a safe and supervised environment, whilst covertly incorporating core subjects including English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Botany, Latin and Cookery, as well as helping children to gain in confidence, improve fine motor control and develop a new skill set.

Each month the club focuses on one particular healing plant. Children are taught how to correctly identify the plant, about the origins of the plant name (both common and botanical names) and about the plant’s habitat and life cycle. Next, they look at the history and folklore surrounding the plant. This may include storytelling, songs and funny anecdotes. They then discuss the medicinal qualities of the plant, the primary constituents responsible for the healing activity, and the uses for the plant, both internally and externally. Children are encouraged to participate in the discussion, adding their own ideas and thoughts.

By the end of the first year children will be able to:

• Correctly identify many of the common medicinal plants growing in their gardens, parks, hedgerows and streets and that they will be able to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous plants.
• Know the medicinal properties of many common plants.
• Understand how to use some of these plants in first aid and how to use some plants for making medicines.
• Enjoy listening to the stories and tales of folklore and history surrounding the plants and herbal medicine.
• Know how to cultivate and harvest plants whilst respecting their environment and all of nature.

In the second year, the tasks become more complex, building on the skill set developed in the first year and includes the children making marshmallows, syrups, lozenges, salves, creams and hydrosols.

Why join a Junior Herbalist Club?

The aim of JHC is to let children learn about the healing and medicinal plants all around them in a safe and supervised environment. This includes:

• Identification and nomenclature of common herbs, weeds, plants and trees
• Safety – which plants are safe to use and which are poisonous or hazardous
• Folklore – taught through stories and songs
• How to grow and harvest herbs
• Medicinal uses of common herbs
• How to use a variety of common herbs for first aid
• How to make a variety of herbal preparations to keep and take home
• Respect for all plants and their environment

 

How to find a Junior Herbalist Club Course:

All sessions are run by a qualified Medical Herbalist who has undergone specific training in order to be able to deliver this course. Junior Herbalist Club meets once a month. Ten lessons are delivered over a year from September to July. At the end of the year the children are given certificates of attendance and a badge.

To find a list of approved course leaders please visit our Leader Register

JHC is suitable for children between the ages of 7 and 11. Children are able to be left with the course leader for each session, however, children aged under 8 may benefit from having a parent or guardian stay with them during the class.