By Michael Pilarski
In 1998, I started the Montana Herb Gathering with Lynn Montgomery and Bronwyn Troutman. For the next five years the gathering was under the capable leadership of Rebecca Wittenberg. I attended all of them. MHG did not happen in 2004, 2005, 2006. I became lonely for it so restarted the MHG in 2007 at a friend’s property northwest of Kalispell. Kris Hill and Kristina Farnum co-organized it with me. Kris Hill, and a succession of other organizers, organized the next 6 annual events. I attended 3 of the 6.
The MHG has been in another hiatus for 3 years now, 2014, 2015, 2016. I am getting lonely for it. So, I decided to incorporate a medicinal herb track into the Inland Northwest Permaculture Convergence in Hot Springs, Montana (I am the coordinator), using the same facilities as the 2013 MHG which was held in Hot Springs.
We will hold a planning meeting at INPC to talk about reinvigorating the MHG and adding people to the Board of Directors. Lasca Ravenhill, MHG Board of Directors will be part of the conversation.
Besides my involvement with the MHG, I have organized many other herb gatherings over the years. I co-organized all 11 of the Northwest Herbal Fairs from 1994 to 2005. They were held in northwest Washington (all but one). In 2005, we had 900 people attend, 125 presenters, 175 workshops, 65 vendors and a big stage full of entertainment. After an 11-year hiatus, I am planning on restarting the NHF in 2018.
In 2014, I helped start the Spokane Herbal Fair (SHF), which has been great for 3 years in a row running. At least three of the SHF’s main organizers will be running registration at the INPC in Hot Springs, Jessica Spurr, June Holliday and Carla Martinez.
In 2016, I organized the Medicinal Herb Growing & Marketing Conference in Port Townsend, Washington. The conference sold out at 450 people from around the US. A lot of people want me to organize a 2nd MHGMC. Nothing scheduled yet.
In the meantime, on September 1-3, 2017 we will be getting a bunch of herbalists together to talk shop and have some educational workshops at the Inland Northwest Permaculture Convergence. It remains to be seen how large the herbal track will be compared to the other permaculture tracks happening. We expect a lot of crossover as we explore the synergy of permaculture and herbalism. They go well together and are part of a much larger interconnected whole.