Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism (VCIH) recently signed a contract with Goddard College to move its school and clinic from Montpelier to the historic Greatwood campus in Plainfield this June. VCIH will join EarthWalk Vermont, also located on the campus, for a mission-based partnership in Goddard College’s new Village for Learning Initiative.
VCIH’s sliding-scale herbal clinics and apothecary serve hundreds of clients in the Central Vermont and Chittenden County communities, while their nationally-recognized programs enroll 60-70 students annually. As the popularity of herbal medicine continues to grow, a need for additional classroom spaces and outdoor teaching and cultivation areas sparked the search for a new location in 2019.
Founded in 2007 by herbalists Betzy Bancroft, Larken Bunce and Guido Masé, VCIH is currently stewarded by Bunce, who assumed the role of Executive Director in 2019 and is alum of Goddard and former faculty member in the Health Arts and Sciences program. “Goddard is a perfect match for us. We can expand our gardens, renovate the greenhouse, access outdoor teaching areas, and make use of Goddard’s extensive woodlands,” said Bunce.
Minor renovation will be needed for a former dormitory to serve the purposes of the small school and clinic–including lab and apothecary space. Goddard College’s founder Royce Pitkin first envisioned the Village for Learning as a concept in 1964 when the multi-colored, cubical dormitories were first constructed.
Goddard President Bernard Bull envisions the Village for Learning Initiative as a partnership of interconnected organizations that support each other, collaborate on projects, and share common values. “Combined with our $4 million Together for Goddard Campaign, the Village for Learning Initiative embodies our commitment to imagining new ways of living out our longstanding practice of educational innovation, experimentation, and learner-centered progressive education. We look forward to growing alongside VCIH, EarthWalk, and other future partners.”
EarthWalk Vermont has provided nature-based mentoring since 2005, and is similarly enthusiastic about the potential of the new Initiative. “All of us at EarthWalk are overjoyed with the news that VCIH will be our neighbors,” said Elaine Toohey, EarthWalk’s Executive Director. “EarthWalk is about reconnecting with and caring for ourselves, one another and the Earth. Growing personal resilience, conscientious nature stewardship, leadership, and powerful awareness of resource and interdependence are at the heart of regenerative communities so needed in the world. We look forward to nourishing the work of nature connection alongside VCIH!”
With the new location, VCIH plans to extend its offerings as well. “We’re thrilled to get to work creating a selection of short, intensive courses to serve folks wanting to connect with herbal medicine, but who are not able to relocate for our existing long-term residential programs,” said Bunce.
“At our roots, all three organizations are dedicated to building personal, cultural, and ecological resilience,” said Bunce. “We’re eager to see the unique opportunities that emerge through our work together.”