I am a great admirer of Sarah’s approach to herbal medicine which is practical, down to earth, community minded and well informed and the festival reflected these qualities perfectly. When we arrived we were met by Sarah and her father carrying a basketful of pears from their trees and the day’s proceedings kicked off in true herbwife fashion, with foraging, herb gathering and the digging of roots.
The Sanctuary itself is nestled amongst the stunning scenery of the Cotswolds and is an utterly magical place.
As the festival is small in numbers it gives you the chance to meet and share knowledge with many of the people there and a lovely community feel suffuses the event. Everyone I met was enthusiastic, interesting and friendly.
Fellow blogger Ali English was there giving a very interesting talk on British tonic herbs and selling her wares at the mini herb market. I couldn’t resist her beautiful natural scarfs, the one dyed with oak bark being an especially rich golden hue, perfect for these early autumn days.
I gave a talk on using herbs externally which was lots of fun.
There was herbal dyeing down in the gardens and a lovely talk and demonstration by Charlie Farrow on making a Rowan Cross and its symbolism in folklore. One of Sarah’s apprentices, Ian, led a lovely wild food walk and spoke movingly of his passion for re-wilding.
Last but not least, the non-herbal elements were also fantastic! Sarah’s husband and his partner stunned and awed us with their kite demonstrations and classical singer Heather Caddick wowed us with her sublime voice during a lunchtime recital.
All in all it was a wonderful event that contained so many of the elements I think are vital to working with herbs; passion and enthusiasm, a sense of community, practical skills and the joyful sharing of knowledge and talents. I’ll be back next year for sure.