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Nature's Apprentice

natures apprentice summer.jpg

What is the Nature's Apprentice?

We’re so happy to finally be offering “Nature’s Apprentice”.   This program came out of the desire to slow down, truly connect with nature, and to have time and space to connect with each other, learn from each other, and be able to follow flights of fancy like a  fascinating wildlife trail, an engaging discussion, a hilarious adventure, or a moment of awe at nature’s majesty.

There will be lots of content of course:  foraging, herbalism, tracking and wildlife awareness, etc.  We believe skillful engagement with nature is the key to connection with place.  That said, at the core of Rivers and Roots is a question: How does a deeper connection with nature augment your happiness, health, and personal/spiritual growth. 

As we meet throughout the season for workshops and overnight adventures, we keep coming back to  our place on this land, and our place in the seasons, and our place in the story of humanity and the story of our lives.  We will always take time to connect with nature, and wander.  At least once each season we will go somewhere wild, where we can feel away from civilization, and in tune with the true rhythms of nature.

We will end with a celebration and debrief of our journey together. 

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.)


Nature's Apprentice includes:

  • 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. (free to full year apprentices, 50% off for seasonal apprentices)


Winter Session

Highlights:                        -Snowshoeing and Wildlife Tracking                             -Tree identification and Medicine making                                       -Star Mapping and Stories               -Maple  Sugaring   and Celebrations                  - Cheese fondue and wild foraged wines

Sat Jan. 20, 10-4PM: Winter Well Being:  The first layer of winter well being is loving winter.  The beauty is breathtaking, and the feeling is special: the quiet reflective hibernation.  That said, our body needs some extra help from nature to stay well.  Our tree allies can help, but we will also bring out some special allies from the warm season, harvested especially for the winter season, such as elderberry (the anti-viral), the medicinal mushrooms (the immune boosters), and ways of using herbal steams, smudges, and homemade incense to cleanse our indoor spaces.  A day of wandering the landscape and making medicines.

Sat Feb. 24, 12PM to Sun Feb. 25, 3PM: Winter Wilderness retreat:      The time is both the deep of winter and the first signs of spring, as the days lengthen and the local birds get ready for the first warm days. 

Our days will include: snowshoe adventures, wildlife tracking lessons and practice, winter tree identification and medicine making, and an introduction to friction fire making.

Evening will include campfire, a sharing of our ancestry and stories, song, and potentially a star mapping and storytelling session.

Optional explorations of nature based meditations and winter practice of the “Wim Hof” cold exposure method.

Accommodations: We’ll be spending the weekend at the Borefuge wilderness retreat (, and sleeping in their yurts, heated tents, or outdoor camping sites.  (your choice, depending on sleeping arrangements)

Food:  (special diets can be accommodated)  Dinner:  Cheese fondue, elk or rabbit stew, Guatamalan hot chocolate (xocolatl), wine and/or Kombucha.    Breakfast:  farm fresh eggs, organic bacon, toast, wild apple jelly,  and lots of coffee!  Sunday lunch: “stone soup”, bread, butter and potluck.  Participants are responsible for Saturday lunch, snacks, and Sunday lunch potluck contributions.


Sat. march 23, 10AM – 5PM: Sugaring celebration, fire and goodbye to winter:  We prepare for the sugaring celebration, especially with fire tending and preparation (including a lesson on fire tending).  We participate in a sugaring celebration (open to the public), including acorn pancakes. We reflect on the magic of the Anishnaabe sugar camp at this time of the year, and the transition to Spring.   (including a look at the changes in wildlife and bird behaviour, and some celebrations and acknowledgements of the spring equinox).


Optional Supplemental Courses:   Tracking 101, 5 Saturday mornings at the Wakefield Community centre.  Dates and price to be announced.     


Spring Session

Highlights:    :   - Birds and Frogs              - Willow and bark basketry                   -  Algonquin teachings and crafts      

                                          - First mushrooms!                         - Wild foraged food, drinks, and medicines              - Solstice celebration 

- 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, 3PM


Celebrating the fullness of days with an overnight program, including a wildfood potluck dinner, music, stories,

wildfood and medicines.

We are in peak bark season and we will harvest bark, make birchbark baskets, (or bark of your choice), and review some bark medicines.

Our personal/cultural/spiritual explorations will centre on local Indigenous traditions, and we are working on getting some Algonquin guest teachers.

Location TBA (expect tent camping or option to get a room somewhere)

Optional Supplemental Courses (discounted 20%for Nature’s Apprentices):   Spring foraging series:  5 classes.       Also, Herbal and birding courses TBA.

Mushrooms 101 is included for full year apprentices, and 50% off for  seasonal apprentices.



Summer Session  (2 night canoe trip or retreat, and optional biweekly gatherings)


- Summer "Forage, 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. 

There is a choice of 2 trips (The Aug. 3rd trip includes a holiday Monday)


Choose from these sessions:


Friday, July 19 - Sunday, July 21, 2024;

Sat. August, 3 to Monday, August 5, 2024

- Plus optional 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.


Remember that a Mushrooms 101 course is included in the full apprenticeship.


Fall Session

Highlights:   -  Abundant fruit and nut harvest             -   Natural fibres and dyes     -  Fire skills and arts  

    -   Bidding adieu to the green season, and preparing for winter  

​- Harvest Abundance  Sat. Sept. , 2024, 10-4pm


Summer is fading, yet the days are still abundant and bright. We say goodbye to many birds and most of the insects, and dig out the pants and long sleeved shirts. It is a wonderful time of harvest, and it is time to gather and process many berries, fruits, nuts and roots.  There will be a focus on the abundance of wild apples, and the amazing variety of amazing products from cider to jelly to hard cider to vinegar and more! It’s also time to do our final harvest of the ancient superfood of acorns!  It’s a time to properly reflect on how can we express our gratitude to the Earth, and all the people and other beings that support our bodies and spirits in this lifetime.


- Golden Colours of Fall,  Sat. Oct. 19- 20, 12PM – Sun. Oct. 20, 3PM


Our Fall overnight takes place during the colourful change of seasons.  We’ll be noticing the signs of nature preparing for winter. As the plant world recedes back into the Earth for the winter, there are some foods and medicines that are at their peak, but what really stands out are the left behind gifts of fire and fibres. Perfect gifts for the poor fangless and furless Homo sapien facing an oncoming winter! It will be a great night for a big fire, and an exploration of upcoming Samhain (or Halloween), as well as a star gazing, and a wonderful MicMac story about how the great bear (big dipper) dies over winter after a great bear hunt by a bunch of little birds!


Location TBA


- A Thousand Shades of Beige, Brown and Gold, Sat. Nov. 16,  10 – 4 PM


It is a time of beauty and melancholy.  Preparations for winter are appropriate here, and a final goodbye to the year’s green cycle.  It is a time I think a lot about the animals. The hunters are deeply involved in this, but all of us can appreciate their preparations for the winter season.  We can connect to this by making deer leather pouches (from naturally tanned buckskin) for herb mixes, rocks and crystals, or whatever you like. We’ll also start our herbal winter preparations to stay healthy and happy throughout the cold season.  It’s our last Nature’s Apprentice of the year so we will endeavour to  accommodate any requests to finish or start projects, or just to wander or talk or however we can serve you!

Optional Supplemental courses:  Fall foraging classes series (50% off)   Hide tanning course TBA,  Winter crafts for your Christmas basket series, TBA


General Goals

  • The primary goal is to nurture and assist participants in their personal connection to nature.  The primary tools mostly include direct nature engagement practices such as foraging, herbalism, wildlife tracking and observation

  • We will include some gentle cultural practices that help us relate well to nature, such as gratitude, awareness, and full sensory engagement

  • Our interest is how does nature connection make your life better.  If people are interested, this may include sharings and discussions on nature and health practices, nature and your spiritual path, or other topics of mutual interest.  (These topics can also be part of a personal mentoring sessions)

  • To relax and retreat, (especially the overnights), and share stories, laughter, song, quiet moments, and recharge!

Learning Goals

  • Our activities will naturally lead to an increased knowledge and sense of connection and belonging to nature.  However, if you want to go further, you’ve come to the right place!   Pierre and Isabel have been part of the international “Art of Mentoring” movement, (spearheaded by the Jon Young and the Wilderness Awareness school) and love to help you meet your goals.

  • If you want to do homework, we’ll give some detailed objectives and resources

  • There will also be other classes run by Rivers and Roots such as Tracking, Foraging, herbalism, and Mushrooms.  (More may be added).  Apprentices are encouraged to participate in these courses at a reduced rate.  (The exception being tracking which is a fixed, but cheap rate at the Wakefield community centre) 

Potential Specific Goals (especially for nature nerds and the self motivated):

  • 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)

Added Value:

  • 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.  (Acceptance for younger participants will be on a case by case  basis) 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).  


If overnights occur at our homestead, our 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)

Some outings may require tent camping.  If you do not have access to camping gear, please let us know and we may be able to find you some for you.  If tent camping is too difficult, there are always options to rent a room somewhere nearby.



You will be responsible for your breakfast and lunch unless otherwise specified.  tails will be in the pre-weekend emails.  Please let us know of any dietary restrictions or allergies. 



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 Upon receipt, we will send you the complete program description and anything you need to know to plan for the Apprenticeship.

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