News & Events

Medicinal Plant Conservation Certificate Program for 2018

medicinal plant conservation certificate programMedicinal Plant Conservation Certificate Program
Spring & Fall 2018
Rutland, Ohio


Spring 2018: Monday, April 30 - Friday, June 8.
Fall 2018: Tuesday, Sept. 4 -  Friday, Oct. 12.
(Move-in weekend before each.)

Hard Working? Motivated to learn about medicinal plants? Want an opportunity to live and work on United Plant Savers' 360-acre Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary in Ohio?

Interns will work and take classes for approximately 40 hours per week with the remainder their time left for independent pursuits. Typically this free time would include exploring the 379 acre sanctuary, spending time with the plants, making medicine, and engaging with the surrounding community. Interns will work under the supervision of UpS staff John Stock and Susan Leopold and community teachers Paul Strauss, Chip Carroll, Lonnie Galt-Theis, Tanner Filyaw, Caty Crabb, Rebecca Wood, and more. Participants will engage approximately 40 hours a week doing medicinal plant conservation and cultivation work, building and maintaining trails, maintaining and improving the Sanctuary landscape, assisting in developing signage and interpretive materials, all while immersed in the bio diverse landscape of the UpS Botanical Sanctuary. In addition to identifying and learning about the medicinal plants that live here at the Sanctuary, interns will take classes on medicine making, conservation, non-timber forest products, and more.

Read more: Medicinal Plant Conservation Certificate Program for 2018

A Golden Opportunity

A Golden Opportunity

By Emily Cook

gsl group shot web

Participants of the workshop in front of the iconic sanctuary sign, made from a tree on site that fell in a tornado.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead/UPS website

The Sacred Seeds Program supported by New Chapter sponsored the Nurturing Your Botanical Sanctuary. This event took place on October 1st and 2nd, with experts, academics, and land stewards convened at Goldenseal Sanctuary in Rutland Ohio, which is the headquarters of the United Plant Savers (UPS) network. Their uniting force was a workshop focused on sanctuaries, sacred natural areas, and the conservation and cultivation of medicinal and rare plants.

Read more: A Golden Opportunity

Register: BSN & Sacred Seeds 2-day workshop

 “Nurturing Your Botanical Sanctuary”
to be held at the Goldenseal Sanctuary October 1st and 2nd, 2015

By Alison Ormsby and Susan Leopold.

IMG 0680

What is Sacred about Medicinal Plant Conservation? For centuries, traditional healers have used medicinal plants.  In addition, it is recognized that custodians of sacred groves/natural sites hold knowledge about the botanical resources of these areas.  Many sacred sites contain medicinal plants not found elsewhere.  In order for these important plants to survive for future generations, it is critical that they are conserved now.  This could be through on-site (in situ) conservation, or off-site (ex situ) cultivation at botanical gardens or home gardens.  It is critical that the keepers of the medicinal plant knowledge are respected and that as plants are harvested, it is done in a sustainable manner, with permission of landowners.

To preserve biodiversity and plant knowledge, the Sacred Seeds Sanctuary network was formed.  This network provides support for the conservation of these sanctuaries or gardens, through publicity, natural resource management advice, and training opportunities. 

United Plant Savers' Goldenseal Sanctuary is a member of the Sacred Seeds Network, an international network of community inspired sacred gardens. In 2014 United Plant Savers and Sacred Seeds joined forces. Through the generous support of New Chapter we are thrilled to be offering the workshop for both those in the Sacred Seeds Network and the United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary Network. We are offering this two-day workshop to those who are current BSN members and Sacred Seed Garden members. If you are not a member of the BSN network but have been thinking about joining you can attend the workshop for the cost of $150.00 and then if you decide to become a sanctuary member your $100.00 application fee will be waived. We have made this event extremely affordable so that anyone who wishes to attend can join the workshop.


IMG 4546 “Nurturing Your Botanical Sanctuary”

October 1st and 2nd, 2015
Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio, USA

Register Here

This workshop is an opportunity for those who are part of the Botanical Sanctuary Network and the Sacred Seeds Network to gather to learn important ETHNOBOTANICAL skills, to share stories, and to strengthen ties. Your botanical sanctuary can play a critical role in the conservation of endangered medicinal plants.

Two-day workshop intensive will cover the following topics

  • Knowing and documenting: Botany basics, data collection, how to make Herbarium specimens, bio blitzing, botanical illustration
  • Management and stewardship: Know your land, mapping geology, soil, plant communities, and making a plan to address invasive plants
  • Education and outreach: Trails, signage, outreach/ social media and how to use the at-risk assessment tool
  • Plant medicine conservation: Conservation, creating your own collection, cultivation, the history and science of herbal extraction and medicinal plant ethics

IMG 0680Teachers

  • Marc Williams: Ethnobotanist and Executive Director of Plant Healers International,
  • Susan Leopold: Executive Director United Plant Savers and Director of the Sacred Seeds Sanctuary
  • Alison Ormsby: Environmental educator and sacred natural sites specialist
  • Chip Carroll: Stewardship manager of the Goldenseal Sanctuary
  • Nathan Wright and Monica Cady:  Co-founders of Herbal Lodge,
  • Rebecca Wood: Herbalist, yoga instructor and founder of Hopewood Holistic Heath,
  • Lee Ann Woolery: Community Arts Specialist at University of Missouri Extension and Expedition Leader at EcoArt Expeditions
  • More teachers, class details and program schedule will be listed soon!

If you are interested in reading more about medicinal plants and sacred groves, see:

Leopold, Susan. (2012). Sacred Groves…Activism and Conservation of Healing Plants, Plant Healers, Spring 2012. 

Ormsby, Alison A. and Bhagwat, Shonil A. (2010). Sacred forests of India: a strong tradition of community-based natural resource management. Environmental Conservation, 37(3): 320–326.

In the future we hope to offer similar workshops in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, and Ghana, as a way to regionally connect with the growing international network of sacred seed sanctuaries.  For more information, contact Alison Ormsby, consultant ([email protected]), or Susan Leopold, Executive Director, United Plant Savers & Director of the Sacred Seeds Sanctuary ([email protected]).

IN REVIEW: Growing American Ginseng: Insights, Methods, & Opportunities

Sat, August 08, 2015

United Plant Savers in conjunction with Rural Action presented

Growing American Ginseng: Insights, Methods, and Opportunities

United Plant Savers Goldenseal Sanctuary, Rutland

Last weekend, the Goldenseal Sanctuary in Rutland Ohio was bustling with activity for the United Plant Savers and Rural Action workshop, Growing American Ginseng: Insights, Methods, and Opportunities.

Forty-four participants came from Ohio, Kentucky, New York, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin to learn from experts in the field of ginseng cultivation, harvesting, and marketing. Tanner Filyaw from Rural Action moderated the event and kicked things off with his own presentation, Ginseng History and Introduction to Forest cultivation. This was a comprehensive review of the plant and it’s history as well as a description of the three techniques used for commercial ginseng growing: Shade cultivated, woods grown, and wild simulated. This workshop primarily focused on wild simulated ginseng production.

ginseng event1

This session was followed with Applied Forest Cultivation: Site selection and Planting. Goldenseal Sanctuary steward, Chip Carroll, led the group out into the field for a hands-on demonstration of site selection and planting. Participants had an opportunity to study indicator plants and observe efficient and effective planting techniques. Seeding rates and density along with advantages and disadvantages associated with planting seedlings, roots, and seed were covered. Chip and the group identified ginseng plants, and proper digging techniques were demonstrated. Growers from other states commented on the ideal growing conditions for ginseng that exist in this part of SE Ohio.

ginseng event2

ginseng event3

Lunch was followed with Bob Beyfuss, retired NY State Specialist for American Ginseng. Bob is currently vice president of Bounty American Pharm, a large-scale woodland wild simulated ginseng growing operation in upstate New York. With his presentation, Top 10 Reasons Why Ginseng Plantings Fail, Bob reached into his deep bag of experience to share many of the mistakes he and growers he has advised over the years have made. Bob’s anecdotes stimulated a useful discussion of disease, planting techniques, labor, and security concerns. 

A panel discussion with insights from Paul Hsu of Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Brad Castle of Emerald Castle Farm, Adam Seitz from Pennsylvania Certified Organic, as well as Bob, Tanner, and Chip came next. Discussion topics included Market Strategies and Considerations for Woodland Growers, and What’s Happening in Ohio: Regulatory Changes and Things To Know. Most agreed that the industry is still in need of a functional regulatory system for ginseng that allows for profitable commerce while at the same time protecting this threatened medicinal.

Adam Seitz from Pennsylvania Certified Organic wrapped up the day with his presentation on the PCO Forest Grown Verification Program. He explained how certification can add value to a growers crop as well as insulate the grower from market restrictions should the digging of wild roots be prohibited sometime in the future. The process and price of certification was outlined and Adam discussed options to limit the cost to growers including $200 grants provided by United Plant Savers to cover the cost of application.

This event was declared a great success from most, if not all of the attendees. Connections and contacts were made and enthusiastic, new United Plant Savers members were signed up. Great strides were made in terms of supporting growers who are interested in conserving one of the most threatened medicinal plants in North America. Demand for this workshop exceeded available space and United Plant Savers is looking forward to the next opportunity we have to offer a similar workshop.


ruralaction logo


Upcoming Events

A Day in the Woods: Wild Culinary & Propagation Adventures!

Fri, April 14, 2017
Rutland, Ohio




Join Our Mailing List

Stay tuned with our latest news!