Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke Kelly Norvish
Brooke Kelly Norvish, can you briefly walk us through your story how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Botanicals by Brooke is the result of my lifelong connection and passion for nature. My mother and Noni (grandmother) raised me in their gardens by identifying plants and teaching me to heal with them. I became hooked on reading and studying as much as I could about plants, aiming to expand my knowledge of each plants’ application to health. I took workshops wherever I could find them, went to herbal conferences, and partook in a variety of herbal apprenticeship programs both online and in person.
In 2013, I began offering one-night workshops on herbal product making and held plant walks every few weeks, in addition to offering yoga and art classes. My events started to become more and more popular, and many of my repeat students started wanting to learn more about herbalism in much greater detail. I quickly realized that I was not only ready to move forward with teaching, but that I had a way of teaching people to understand and learn herbalism in a fun and easily approachable fashion. The wealth of information that herbalism aims to clamber through can be overwhelming, but after my own struggles I began developing strategies to help beginners traverse the field with relative ease.
I worked day and night on designing and writing my level-one herbalism program, and when it finally launched last April 2017 I had a full class. My students recently graduated in January 2018 and now, due to the demand, I will be offering another level-one program this year, while also adding a level-two program so that my current students may continue their herbal education with me.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I first started teaching, I had absolutely no money to invest. I began by offering classes at public beaches and parks. Eventually, I set up a large, screen-room tent in my parent’s backyard, so I wouldn’t have to cancel a class every time it rained. But as the weather grew colder, I needed to come up with a new plan. My step-father, Alan Sawler, helped me build a 20-person capacity, 500 square foot authentic Native American Teepee, complete with a raised platform and pellet stove to keep it toasty warm. I held classes there until I moved to Providence RI, but since my clientele is still in MA I now drive back to teach at my friend Dee Davidson’s beautiful studio, Simply Soothing Sanctuary, to still offer classes in Kingston, MA for the southeastern MA area.
On top of lacking funds, being a young herbalist has not been the easiest thing. I was hit with a lot of criticism and doubt from older teaches. I was told that I “couldn’t possibly consider myself to be an herbalist until I had gray hair!” It was hard to push past the judgment at first, but as I continued to prove my level of knowledge I began to gain respect. I am now being consulted with and being asked to teach as a guest lecturer at many herbal events.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Botanicals by Brooke – what should we know?
Botanicals by Brooke is focused on providing herbal education to the every-day person as well as to those looking to incorporate herbal medicine into their professional careers. I have mothers, fathers, nurses, massage therapists and teachers taking my programs to learn how to heal both themselves and others with herbs.
What sets my herbal programs apart from others is that I also have a background in education. It’s one thing to be an expert in the field of herbalism; it’s another thing entirely to be an educator. If the instructor has difficulty properly conveying their knowledge to students, the course will not be as successful as it could be. Sadly, many courses (not just in herbalism) fall prey to the “PowerPoint lecture” problem, which students are known to have difficulty with. Hence, one of my key teaching strategies acts on people’s inability to simply absorb lectured material for hours on end by replacing it with interactive lessons. I make sure to incorporate as many visuals and hands on experiences into class time, supporting any lectured information and reinforcing the topic. Alongside this idea, many classes consist of students who have all types of learning styles. I think it’s important for my students to smell, taste, touch and see the plants I am discussing rather than just reading about them in a book or hearing about them in a power-point, and I have found that to be a big reason why my students love me and my teaching style.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My Noni (grandmother) Verna H. Ferguson, my mother Laurie Sawler, and father Robert Norvish taught me from a young age to love nature. My step-father Alan Sawler, my partner Leonard Sprague Jr., and my best friend Kyra Grattan have been there for me building and brainstorming with me all along the way. In college, Alyson and Joseph Ferrante took me under their wings and encouraged and helped guide me to pursue my business further. In addition to all my personal research and study, I’ve also had a lot of amazing herbal teachers such as Rosemary Gladstar, Susan Clements, Bonnie Kavanaugh, Mary Blue, Rocio Alarcon, Margi Flint, and Alisa Skywalker. Without these amazing people I would not be where I am today.
- 10 month Herbal Education Programs – $1,200 (Payment Plans Available)
- Two hour Herbal Product Making Workshops – $35
- One hour Guided Herbal Plant Walk – $20
- Herbal Products; teas, honeys, ciders & more – starting at $8
- Address: Located in Kingston MA & Providence RI
- Website: www.BotanicalsByBrooke.com
- Email: BotanicalsByBrooke@gmail.com