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katja swift, director

Katja is an herbalist and teacher working to help adults, children, and families rebuild their relationships with their bodies and with their own ability to heal.

By teaching people how to understand what’s going on in their bodies, to eat real food, and work with medicinal plants, she helps them to reestablish their connectivity to the earth, to themselves, and to one another.

Katja likes words like educate and choice, hike and campfire, music and art. Also, enough, plain speech, and integrity. She abhors the way in which the phrases “I can’t” and “I have to” are overused in our culture.

Katja chooses to practice in Boston (as opposed to greener, wilder places) because city folks need plants, too. The dandelions come to live in cracks in the sidewalks just to be close to us: teaching in a city means that more people can recognize them in gratitude instead of trying to be rid of the weeds. She homeschools her twelve-year-old daughter Amber, who makes a very good pot of tea, loves dogs, and enjoys helping in the school and clinic.

Some of Katja’s favorite teas include Tulsi, Wood Betony, & Rose petals, Nettle and Friends, and Chai for a Busy Day.

ryn midura

Ryn found plant medicine as a path to deeper engagement with the balances and rhythms in body, mind, and environment. He’s become good friends with the soft and savory leaves of sage, the flexing knuckles of solomon’s seal, and the salamander living inside ginger.

Ryn’s first forays into healing came by way of martial arts, where he saw the difference movement can make for a person’s health. Every day he drinks his roots, tastes his bitters, gets [almost] enough sleep, stands on his hands, takes the stairs, and stares at clouds. He feels keenly aware that while herbs alone can initiate a shift, they’re even more effective when combined with other interventions in lifestyle factors including diet, movement, sleep, and stress management, and that those changes must be chosen and pursued according to the nature of the individual, in the same way that herbal remedies must be formulated anew for each client.

This is an exciting time to be an herbalist: we see further and clearer into our past as we weave our way forward. As Ryn continues to develop his attunement to the world green and growing, he delights in sharing its gifts with the people all around who are in need of care and compassion, and those who seek to understand the connections from all things to all things.

Sam Coffman

sam coffman, adjunct teacher

Sam Coffman began his medical education in the military as a U.S. Special Forces Medic (aka Green Beret medic) in 1989. A few years prior to this he had already become highly interested in herbalism as a way to provide health care in remote regions with a minimum of medical supplies – both for acute care and trauma as well as for chronic conditions.

This was the start of a long journey into the world of plant medicine for Sam, and after thousands of clinical hours as both a medic on teams and in military emergency rooms, as well as working with herbs throughout following decades, Sam’s primary goal has become the creation of an integrative medical model that embraces both vitalistic and mechanistic aspects of herbalism into a collaboration with orthodox and energetic models of diagnosis and treatment.

Sam is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild, and has worked as a clinical herbalist for over 15 years. As founder and director of The Human Path, his educational goals have been to provide the most practical, hands-on teaching experience possible for all students, whether online or on-campus. To that end, he has developed scenario-based training models that make it easy for students to move directly from training into real-world applications.

Kim Almeida

kim almeida, adjunct teacher

kim connects people & plants, makes medicine, cultivates community, walks in wonder, & dances with/in ecosystems.

her very earliest plant allies included sweet fern, sassafras, & blueberry, & she continues this relationship now with daily inspiration from tulsi, nettle, blue vervain, & calamus.

kim practices & teaches herbalism, permaculture, & yoga at CommonWealth & elsewhere.

a perennial edge species & fan of the ampersand & the infinity symbol, kim believes possibilities are infinite, & connection is key.

Danielle Laberge

danielle laberge, adjunct teacher

Danielle Laberge is an herbalist, teacher, land steward and plant geek.

She makes a game of recognizing plants at every stage of their life cycle, knowing their preferred habitats, likes and dislikes, until she can spot them wherever they grow.

Danielle believes that health is a moving target and not an end state. She believes that doing what we have evolved to do and living in partnership with plants (and healthy animals too) is as close to wellness as we can get. She will never be done drinking tea and looking at trees, since this is a lifestyle choice, not a cure.

Danielle loves the terms open source and appropriate technology, and likes thinking about true biotechnology (called permaculture) in which organisms work together for mutually beneficial and exponentially productive outcomes. The potential for positive human input in an ecosystem gives her hope for a reconciliation between misaligned humans and the rest of the wounded planet.

Emma O'Brien

emma o’brien, adjunct teacher

Emma is an herbalist and practicing doula who brings a full-spectrum philosophy to her work. She supports folks through transitions in their lives, be it pregnancy, birth and parenting, or integrating holistic solutions to health problems.

She began on her herbal path while seeking to balance chronic kidney disease and discovered a verdant life partner in nettle tea. Growing up with chronically sick family blessed her with motivation to search for root causes rather than band-aid solutions. This perspective rallies her desire to be of service to people in any way she can.

The purple hues of poke berries, violets and prunella color her childhood memories in southeastern Massachusetts. Emma is continually inspired by her visits to the rocky mountains, the mullein that grows out of vertical stone walls and the work others do to make this world a better place.


Wondering what our Students and Graduates get up to? You can learn about some of them here!