Native Herb Festival 2024

June 15th, 2024 - 9AM-3PM

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, in collaboration with the Forager's Path School of Botanical Studies, is hosting a Native Herb Festival that you don’t want to miss! This all day event will be full of expert-led workshops, including hands-on opportunities and informative plant walks. Participants sign up for a day-pass, which grants attendance for three sessions during the event. Cost is $65 for members and $80 for nonmembers.


Session 1 - 9:30-11:00AM


Introduction to Botanical Ink & Paint Making with Jill Sans

We will learn to create botanical inks and paint from natural materials foraged and readily available at home. From creating ink similar to a dye and the process of making lake pigment used for watercolor and oil paint, this can add deep connection to the natural world in your art making. This workshop will provide introduction knowledge to build upon and give participants a foundation to start their natural ink and paint making journey. We will make an ink from foraged plant material together, see the process of making a lake pigment and turning it into oil or watercolor paint. We will get the opportunity to play with different hues all made from plant material.

Botanical Beauty with Amara Stack

Learn how to make the easiest, yummiest body butter and whole plant infusion recipes to try at home!

Exploring the Many Benefits of Our Native Plants with Brian Hornbeck (Plant Walk)

Brian Hornbeck will be leading an Herb Walk at the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center Botanical Garden sharing his eclectic knowledge base on Herbal Medicine. Brian has studied both Western and Chinese Herbalism as well as working with Curanderos and the Traditional Indigenous healers in Mexico for more than 25 years.

Session 2 - 11:30AM-1:00PM


Create Your Own Ethnobotanical Garden with Susan Lamb

This workshop is for those who would like to design, build, plant, and care for their own garden of medicinal plants. Susan will offer guidelines for establishing such a garden in northern Arizona, share how to grow six specific plants, and answer questions.

The Myriad Magic Medicine of Yarrow: the Practical and Profound with Darcey Blue

Join herbalist Darcey Blue, who has been allied with and using Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) since she was a curious budding plant lover at age 13!

Yarrow is one of our most common wild and cultivated medicinal species across the entire globe, and is one of the most versatile and potent simple plant allies that anyone can work with for healing the body and spirit!

We'll discuss the practical applications of Yarrow medicine, sample & demonstrate the many ways to prepare yarrow medicines, from teas, oils, first aid, tincture, honey & more, and dive into the profound spiritual teachings this plant has to offer us as plant spirit/flower essence. I always say when in doubt, try Yarrow, because its versatility, availability and practicality make it an excellent medicine on so many levels and in many situations. Truly a medicine of our tumultuous times, come join your plant loving heart with the spirit and healing of Yarrow!

Flower Essences: An Invitation to Healing with Rhonda Pallas Downey

Find the hidden energy within you that can be revealed by connecting to both the visible and invisible gifts that flower and plant essences offer. Learn about the subtle life force energy of flowers and plants and how they can help you embrace a new rhythm in your life.

Discover how the signature or personality of a plant may resemble the personality within you. Get to know several plants that grow in the Flagstaff and Verde Valley areas that will stir your desire to grow and blossom.


Session 3 - 1:30- 3:00PM



Plant Walk with Melissa Quercia

Join Melissa on a plant walk to explore the native medicinal plants in the region, including early summer blooms, trees, and shrubs. During the walk, we will identify dangerous plants to avoid as well as useful plants that are great candidates for cultivation in your home garden. This is an opportunity for you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of the bioregion and the plants that inhabit it. Let's investigate and appreciate the plants that surround us!

Mesquite Bean Harvesting and Milling with Kelly Athena

Learn how to identify mesquite beans, when and how to harvest them, and how to make flour with them at home using an inexpensive machine.  It is high in protein, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. We will also make "mesquite coffee" and other drinks with them and show you to protect them from the mesquite bruchid beetle.

Kelly has been harvesting these beans for 8 years, and researching and experimenting with the best ways to store, process, and cook with them. You will get a chance to sample the natural sweet, nutty flavor of mesquite and take some recipes home.

H​​erbs & Healthy Hair with Brian Hornbeck

Brian will be sharing knowledge on herbs to help maintain healthy hair and scalp. This discourse will include some of the reasons for hair loss and unhealthy scalp and how the use of herbs can help to maintain vibrant healthy hair and reversal of hair thinning.

Meet the Presenters

Kelly Athena

Kelly is a Sonoran Desert foraging educator for the last ten years.
She is a Master Gardener and teaches foraging classes at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Some of the plants she works with:
~Fruits of prickly pear, barrel cactus, and saguaro cactus
~Beans and blossoms of mesquite, ironwood, and paloverde trees
~Winter greens (weeds).

Her foraging work results in:
~Mesquite powder
~Prickly pear tea, juice, and lotion
~Creosote salve
~Roasted ironwood beans
~Desert edamame (steamed paloverde beans)
~Pickled desert capers with yucca blossoms
~Fried mesquite blossoms
~Roasted mesquite brew

Darcey Blue

Darcey Blue is a plant whisperer, student of sacred nature, practicing clinical herbalist, animist, ceremonialist, medicine maker, wildcrafter, gardener, teacher and wilderness fast guide from Flagstaff, AZ.  

She has studied herbalism, shamanic practices and earth based ceremony for 20 + years in Arizona, the Rocky Mountains and the Eastern Woodlands of the US.  She studied under Charles Kane in 2003, Rosemary Gladstar  in 2004, and Clinical Herbalism and Nutrition at the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism under Paul Bergner in 2007.  She studied earth based ceremony & practices with the Q’ero medicine people of the Andes and Wilderness Ceremony & Fasting guiding with the School of Lost Borders from 2014-2017. She has learned the most from her years as a direct student and devotee to the plant spirits, and the wisdom of the Earth, the living, animate landscape around her.
Darcey found her love of the healing plants as a young girl of 13 in the sagebrush hills of her childhood home in N. Utah where her first tea from wildcrafted yarrow and Sagebrush healed her. A special Juniper Tree of the mountains called her to the plant path and initiated her into the world of the plant spirits and earth wisdom in 2003.   

She began her clinical practice and yearly apprenticeships in herbal medicine in 2009. She offers live classes, plant journey circles/ceremonies, annual herbal apprenticeship and works with private clients in Flagstaff, AZ. She teaches regularly for the School of Herbal Wisdom in Prescott, AZ, and various herbal conferences. In addition she has several online courses available for home study and offers distance herbal consultations online.
Darcey primarily wildcrafts and grows her own medicinal plants and has a small online apothecary at, and supplies her students and clients with handmade herbal remedies from her apothecary in Flagstaff.  She works with people of all ages and experience with an open mind and heart who are eager to listen and learn from the plants and nature spirits around them, cultivate a relationship with plant medicines and the earth, and are willing to commit to the healing and wisdom available to them through ceremony, rewilding and the living land.
To find out about upcoming apprenticeships and classes in plant spirit medicine, earth wisdom & ceremony, plant journey circles, herbal products or working with Darcey one on one please visit her website at and join the newsletter or email her at

Brian Hornbeck

Brian Hornbeck has been working with healing plants since 1990. His background includes knowledge of traditional Western herbs and Chinese herbs as well as an extensive study of Indigenous uses of herbs in traditional medicine.

Brian was the founder and director of Escuela de la Madre Tierra in Tijuana BC, Mexico, He taught classes and had a thriving clinical practice. He has been a frequent presenter at The Mexican National Festival of Medicinal Plants as well as numerous regional herb events.
Now residing in Sedona, Arizona, Brian continues to teach as well as sharing his ”Tera Alchemy” line of herbal products at gatherings and markets throughout the Southwest.

Susan Lamb

Susan Lamb is a local science and nature writer who has been managing the gardens at Willow Bend since 2018. Susan and her fellow garden volunteers create and maintain gardens representing the varied plant communities of the Flagstaff area, familiar foods domesticated by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and both native and introduced plants with healing, ceremonial, or culinary purposes. For more information, vist her website at .

Rhonda Pallas Downey

Rhonda Pallas Downey is the founder of the Center for Plant Studies & Healing Arts and Voices of Flowers Perfumes in Cottonwood, AZ.
Rhonda is an herbalist, flower essence practitioner, has a diploma in homeopathy, and an M.A. Education.
She is also an author and an intuitive guide, helping others to transform and heal with the healing powers of plants.

Melissa Quercia

Melissa is a bioregional herbalist based in Arizona.
She is an alumni of the Forager’s Path School of Botanical Medicine with herbalist Mike Masek in 2011.
She apprenticed with Southwestern herbalist and ethnobotanist Phyllis Hogan from 2014-2023.
She has an herbal company called Apotheca Vulgaris and is available for herbal consultations via Zoom.
You can visit for more information.
Melissa is truly passionate about sharing the empowering wisdom of plant medicine.

Jill Sans

Jill Sans is a painter and owner of The HeArt Box Gallery in downtown Flagstaff.
She focuses primarily on paintings of the natural world; from botanical art to mandalic representations.
Working with mixed media and handcrafting her own natural inks and pigments from plants.
She creates worlds on canvas and reclaimed materials, beauty is the essence of her work, an offering to the world.

Amara Stack

My name is Amara Stack(she/her).
I am a mom of two beautiful children who keep me young everyday.
I have been practicing/studying herbalism for 10 years.
My inspiration around natural healing started when I was a teenager and quickly grew into a passion that is fueled by a reclamation of our right to accessible and wholesome healing through the Earth and her wisdom.
My herbal knowledge specializes around the native plants of the Colorado Plateau and I have a certain hunger for bioregional, local medicines.
I’m excited to share some of the herbal wisdom I’ve learned at this year’s Flagstaff Herbfest.