rivers & roots apprenticeship
“Making walks in the woods, city parks, and even the corner of the parking lot engaging and magical”
What is the Apprenticeship?
Join us for a year long apprenticeship with Pierre Blin and Isabel Diaz, connecting with nature, and learning valuable ancient skills of foraging, herbalism, and other bushcraft.
Pierre will be teaching all about plants, mushrooms, trees, while we wander, forage, and make powerful medicines, delicious foraged meals, and bushcraft. All while Isabel shares her songs, community building skills and ways to ground and make plants our allies, become better allies for one another, as well as draw out our reflections on culture, repair, peacemaking and the role of stories in our own and collective journey of coming home and belonging. (Look out for occasional guest teachers as well!)
This program is season-based, with 4 sessions of your choosing, so you can tailor your nature connection journey to suit your lifestyle and what you are looking to gain, or join us for the year long adventure, (for which you can commit to one season at a time.)
Each session is designed to renew our connection to the land, ourselves and each other in a conscious community setting. We so look forward to sharing this time with you, laughing, learning, sharing food, drink, stories, and a shared love of this wonderful Earth!
Fall, Winter and Spring sessions include 3 monthly gathering, one of which will be an overnight experience.
The Summer session includes your choice choice of one “forage, fish and feast” canoe trip, or weekend retreat at a local retreat centre, as well as four optional community nights, with some combination of land tending, foraging, potluck with wildfoods, a short class, and entertainment and/or community building.
Personal mentoring, in person and remotely (by zoom or phone)
Lots of resources for your continued learning that we’ve developed over the years.
Access to one "mushrooms 101" course, and resources.
- Winter’s Apothecary Sat. Jan. 20, 10-4pm
The Gatineau hills forest guide to Winter health and well-being! Never get sick! (and if you do, get better quickly!) Our local forests and fields are full of the Earth's billion year biochemistry extravaganza, ready to help you and your loved ones. This session will include some gentle snowshoeing and harvesting, and a lot medicine making. Many of the medicines can be harvested right in winter, from our tree friends. Others can be bought at the local health food store, or just kept in mind to harvest next warm season.
- make delicious and effective elderberry syrup, proven to cut the average viral flu length in half!
- learn to bask in the protection of evergreen trees, including saps and salves, smoke medicine, steam inhalations, and teas to take home.
- St john’s wort and other mood enhancers
- Mushroom Medicine! We have many world-class medicinal mushrooms growing right here in the hills. Even in the middle of winter, we can find some tree mushrooms, such as the world famous Chaga. The world of mushrooms has all sort of magic that is distinct from the plant world. For example, mushrooms tend to have an immune system modulating effect, meaning that they stimulate and strengthen the immune system, unless it is overactive (eg: inflammation), in which case they have the intelligence to dampen the overactive immune response. Amazing! Make a dual extracted mushroom immunity medicine, (my personal favourite daily tonic) and take a walk in the woods to see some of these incredible medicines at home in our local woods!
- Snowshoeing/skiing and yurt camping in Gatineau park. Sat. Feb. 24, 10am- Sun. Feb 25, 12pm
We are so looking forward to this one! We will honour the stillness of this season by slowing down somewhat. No frantic harvesting, but rather,careful observation of nature through wildlife tracking, winter tree identification, and busting out some of the wild harvest from last year for delicious camp meals, cocktails and mocktails. To celebrate the season of Imbolic, (the awakening energy in the land), we will do a little session on friction fire (lighting fires through rubbing sticks together). To celebrate the coming year, we will craft a simple birchbark basket, to contain the many gifts that are coming! There will surely be songs, stories, games, and quiet nature time as well.
- Sugaring Celebration Sat. March 23, 10-4pm
We celebrate the beginning of the foraging season with acorn pancakes, maple syrup, fresh eggs, coffee, herbal teas and chaga chai. We’ll make some maple syrup, but also maple sugar and look at some other great uses of maple syrup, such as with meat and wild rice.
Traditionally on this land, it was a very special time of year for the Algonquin as they gathered in special “sugaring” camps, to process this important resource. We’ll look at some of their techniques, and try and get a feel for this special event.
Finally it is a great time to do some more tree winter identification, and also do our first balsam poplar bud collection to make a powerful medicine. We’ll finish the day with some delicious maple sap drinks
- The Earth Awakens Sat. April 27, 2024, 10-4pm
The snow has melted, the birds and frogs are singing, and the plant life is offering all sorts of delights: Spring greens, birch sap and syrup, a wetland visit and a solid start on a willow or “melon” type basket for gathering.
- The Height of Spring Sat. May 25, 10-4pm
Edible wild greens and flowers, herbal medicine, (including peelable barks, and skin soothers, and a possible harvesting plan for spring and summer season), intro to fermented drinks, and continuation of gathering basket. Mini wild food feast and drinks.
- Summer Solstice, Sat. June 22, 10am – Sun. June 23, 12pm
Celebrating the fullness of days with an overnight program, including a wildfood potluck dinner, music and stories, more wildfood and medicines, and some sort of exploration of summer Solstice, We will also finish baskets or start another nature craft.
Summer Session (2 night canoe trip or retreat, and optional biweekly gatherings)
- Summer "Forarge, Feast, and Fish" Canoe Trips
2 day, 2 night canoe trips, highlighting summer foraging, feasting and fishing on the local beautiful lakes and forests. We will endeavour to have fishing guide on our trip, and include fresh fish in our evening feast. Either way, we will use what we find and also wild food stores we have harvested and processed throughout the year for our wilderness feast on our last night. We will engage with plant medicines, bushcrafts, as well as birds, tracks and other natural wonders as opportunities arise.
While there is a choice of 3 trips, we recommend the Aug. 3rd canoe trip, (which includes the holiday Monday), and takes place during blueberry/raspberry season. (There will surely be mushrooms as well!)
Choose from these sessions:
Sat. August, 3 to Monday, August 5, 2024 (recommended)
Friday, July 5- Sunday, July 7, 2024;
Friday, August 16- Sunday, August, 18, 2024
- Summer "Forage, Feast and Fish" Retreat
Friday, July 19- Sunday, July 21, 2024;
Similar in content to the canoe trips, but with the comfort of furnished cabins. (An extra cabin fee may apply)
- Plus Biweekly Rivers and Roots Gathering
Stay in touch with the wild apprenticeship throughout the summer by coming to our biweekly Wednesday evening gatherings, which include a potluck dinner, a short class and skill share, and/or a group foraging session. We’ll look at what’s going on in nature at that time, and share good times together.
-Indian Summer Abundance: September dates TBA: An overnight gathering for apples, wild plums, elderberries, acorns, etc., and a wildfood meal, and enjoy music, stories and community building.
- Harvest Abundance, October, date TBA, 10-4PM
We will finish up the food harvest for the year including nuts that needed to be dried before being processed. It is also time to harvest the last of the plant medicines, including joint and muscle salves, and/or Anishnaabe arthritis salve.
-Weaving, Fibres, and Dyeing for Fun, November 18, 2024, 10-4pm
This is also a great time of year to harvest fibres for crafts, clothing, and string and rope making from various plants. Finally, we will have some fun with the surprising and delightful world of natural dyes.
- Nature’s Basket Dec. 16, 2024, 10-4PM
With the holiday season coming, we construct a delightful holiday basket including cattail angels, herbal face and body creams, herbal lip-balm, “winterdreams” tea blend, and smudgesticks. We also look forward to the season with herbal cocktail and mocktail recipes, and homey warm drinks such as herbal and chaga chai, and boreal mulled cider, as we end with a nice drink around a warm fire, to welcome the cold season.
Trees: To know nearly every naturally occurring tree, winter and summer, and at least some medicine, food or drink value, bushcraft uses, and perhaps some lore from times and cultures past
Annual and perennial wild plants: 50+ species in our local area for food, drink, medicine, crafts, and general delight
Mushrooms: learn how to learn this challenging kingdom, and get solid on 30+ edible mushrooms, 10+ medicinal mushrooms, as well as mushrooms and lichens for natural dyes.
Wildfood preparation: the amazing flavours of wildfoods will be explored from the perspective of everyday food, gourmet cooking, special treats, and special preparations and preservations such as vinegars, “beers”, “sodas”, sourcrouts, pickles, etc.
Bushcraft: by taking the time to harvest plants and working with our hands to make beautiful baskets, tools, carvings, dyes, and other items we get to know the plants in a special way, as well as ending up with beautiful hand made items.
Bush skills: options to learn a about tracking, fire making, and more that can enhance your nature time
Nature lore: Learning together connections between animals, plants, people and life through stories and anecdotes
(note: some of the above would need to be achieved through home studies – which is optional)
Health: Through engaging with local plant medicines, we can help ourselves and our loved ones stay healthy and vibrant, get better quickly if we get do get sick, and be able to help treat more serious conditions.
Money: save money on foods, drinks, and medicine!
Connection and Joy in Nature: Goals include: spending quality time with plants and the forest; learning from other cultures who are or were more connected to nature; overriding the chatty brain to be in our senses and our beginner’s mind;
Connection with people: Sometimes its just nice to hang out with other like-minded people! There will be occasional community meals and gatherings around the fire!
All materials will be supplied, (such as oils, jars, labels, medicinal alcohol)
Electronic notes for every class, including a colour coded calendar of local foraging options,
Opportunities to take cuttings and transplants from our wild areas and "wild" gardens
Many options and resources for continued learning
Ongoing mentoring through phone or facebook messenger. You can book sessions with me between classes.
Participants must be 18 yrs of age or older. Participants should be physically capable of hiking up and down hills. (If this is not possible, you may still participate in most of our program, but may have to miss out on some of our more strenuous harvesting activities).
The cabin and/or the basement apt. may be available may be available for those interested. Otherwise, participants may camp out on our property and have access to our:
Outdoor Kitchen. Outhouse/bathroom, Outdoor Shower & Walkout Basement suite complete with kitchen and bathroom (shower and toilet)
If you do not have access to camping gear, please let us know and we may be able to find you some for you.
You will be responsible for your breakfast and lunch. You are welcome to use our outdoor kitchen, and/or Cabin kitchen. Evening meals will be a mix of potluck, our foraged wildfoods, and sometimes provided by us. The details will be in the pre-weekend emails. Please let us know of any dietary restrictions or allergies.
The exception is the summer program, where food is provided.
Each session cost is $500. We ask for a $100 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot.
You may book all four seasons for a 10% discount, with a $400 deposit. Various payment plans and possible work-trades are possible.
Please e-transfer firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon receipt, we will send you the complete program description and anything you need to know to plan for the Apprenticeship.