Herb is the word

Evert Broderick and his wife, Kim Powers, think one personal first step to protecting the planet is getting to know it intimately. They’ve started an herbal studies program at Truckee Meadows Community College, with an in-the-field workshop, “Weeds, Worts and Roots,” taking place Saturday, May 21. The program kicked off this past semester with an herbology course. It continues with this workshop and is expected to be underway in earnest next fall.

“If you really love your own home, you know all about it,” says Broderick. “You know the plants that are growing in your yard; you tend to them and nurture them. I think a certain number of people are doing that on a broader scale” by learning about edible and medicinal plants.

Students will spend the entire day in the field, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., learning about 20 to 35 different plants. Broderick and Powers will also share some of their goodies, like serviceberry jam, nettle dip and balsam poplar plants.

Broderick is from Reno, but he and Powers left town five years ago so she could go to naturopathic medical school at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash. They did similar herbal studies workshops in Washington, and are now bringing what they learned to Reno.

So far, students have been receptive to the herbal studies program. They first capped the herbology class at 15 students, but when that quickly filled, expanded it to 20, which is also the maximum number allowed for this workshop. Broderick attributes some of the interest in “urban foraging” and the like to the recession—learning about edible wild plants makes for a cheap meal. But he doesn’t think that explains all of it.

“It’s obvious that as a species, we’re way out of balance environmentally,” says Broderick. “As the balance is tipping, not favorably, I think more people are getting interested in trying to wake up and say, ‘Wow. This is our planet we live on, and we need to take care of this place.’”

Foraging is also a nice way to spend time outdoors, and it doesn’t require any specialized equipment except perhaps some pruning shears and a garden trowel.

“It’s a lot cheaper than mountain biking,” says Broderick.

This weekend’s workshop is $69. To register, call 829-9010 or visit http://wdce.tmcc.edu. Learn more at www.taking-root.com.