The board of directors of PHI has decided to focus on continuing Frank Cook’s tradition of leading trips internationally.
The first such trip was to Costa Rica from 2/29 – 3/13 2016. We had an incredible itinerary including a number of excellent events and inspiring facilities. A small group of people was led by PHI executive director Marc Williams. The second trip was a tour to the Andes of Peru near the end of 2016. We have another trip planned to Peru for 11/9-11/17 2017
See some testimonial below from previous trips
In early March of 2016 when the late winter landscape in Maryland remained dormant, brown, and chilly, I had the extraordinary opportunity to go on an ethnobotanical journey to lush, verdant, and warm Costa Rica. I traveled with a group organized by Marc Williams, Director of Plants and Healers, International. Marc is a walking encyclopedia of plant family patterns and medicine. To aid and expand our knowledge, Marc created an invaluable reference booklet of Costa Rican flora families and genera for our group to use as we traveled.
We first visited to Else Kintzler Botanical Garden in Sarchi, north of San Jose, to become reacquainted and familiar with tropical succulents, fruit trees, palms, orchids, bromeliads and indigenous plants. From there, we botanized our way through the mountainous and agricultural terrain en route to Finca Luna Nueva. Traveling with fellow plant lovers meant stopping by the side of the road and at rest stops to gather and identify local flora.
Finca Luna Nueva is a medicinal plant and fruit and vegetable working farm and Ecolodge in the rainforest region of La Fortuna and Arenal. Fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm are all incorporated into the delectable meals and drinks that we shared. We toured the farm’s biodynamic agricultural practices with veteran farmer Steve Farrell to learn and taste of their crops such as ginger and turmeric. We also spent much time exploring their Sacred Seeds medicinal garden with Tom Newmark. As we winded through the trails, Tom and Marc passionately explained the medicinal uses of the plants and the essential need to conserve our rainforest and planet’s biodiversity. Finca Luna Nueva with its beautiful grounds, swimming pool, hot tub, and lodging, is the perfect destination for anyone interested in Costa Rican flora, birds and wildlife.
After leaving Finca Luna Nueva, we spent three days at the Medicines From the Edge conference, where Marc, along with many notable ethnobotanists such as Luis Poveda, Rafa Ocampo, Jonathan Miller Weisberger “Sparrow”, Susun Weed, Steven Brooks, Sarah Wu, and 7Song taught workshops on tropical plant medicine and ethnobotany. Circles of song, hot springs in the thick jungle, communal conversations, young and elders sharing plant spirit medicine, and vibrant rainbows left me with hope despite apparent destruction of natural resources by our species.
After we left the conference, I was sadly unable to continue with the group as they crisscrossed Costa Rica’s bioregions. Instead, I returned home to tend to Jim Duke’s Green Farmacy Garden of medicinal plants as it awakened from winter’s slumber with new insight and wisdom that I gained from Marc and my time with him in Costa Rica. I highly recommend this journey to all plant lovers! Pura Vida!
This two week long, affordable, all-inclusive, trip of a lifetime was like a VIP backstage pass to meet the botanical movers and shakers of Costa Rica. We achieved our goal of learning the main tropical plant families in their ethnobotanical context and had an epic time along the way.
Marc arranged exclusive tours with the owners of 3 very unique organic farm/ ecoresorts, 2 indigenous tribes, as well as many native plant gardens and schools run by herbalists from the US and Caribbean. We explored remote indigenous villages where we visited shamans and participated in healing rituals not usually shared with tourists. We went from the mansion of a wealthy CEO to the stick huts of the Bri Bri and Maleku in search of healing for people, cultures and the planet and returned with hope for the future.
The trip was a perfect balance of activities and restful down-time. Marc’s relaxed attitude gave us some flexibility in our travels that most tours don’t allow. We ate well, stayed at very nice places and had only positive experiences while traveling.
Marc is truly an encyclopedia of plant knowledge, so any questions we had about plants and their uses were answered, usually with a book or other resource provided to expand our learning. I honed my tropical botany skills and Spanish speaking on the trip with grace and ease on the journey.
Marc’s Spanish is good, so an English-only traveler or someone who is new to international travel would have no trouble on the journey. I felt safe traveling with Marc and hope to do another Plants and Healers trip someday.
Frank Cook would be proud to see his legacy unfold thanks to Marc and the PHI board carrying on his mission of traveling the world studying plant medicine while joyfully networking with folks sharing the common goal of preserving plant diversity and cultural knowledge.
Dr. Margaret Philhower ND, PC