Southern Italian Herbalism: A discussion on plant origins, migration and territory

Oct 14 2020
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Wednesday, October 14, 2020
  • 5:00 PM  8:00 PM
  • VIRTUAL – Zoom link will be sent a few days before class (map)

Knowledge Share Description

In this knowledge share we will have an in-depth sociocultural discussion on the plants of Southern Italy’s herbal medicine traditions. We will embark on a deep dive into the origin stories of a handful of accessible medicinal plants, while engaging in the larger story of the land which served as a crossroads for many cultures, and who’s food & plant medicine are a direct reflection of that. Southern Italy (denoting everywhere south of Rome to include Sicily and Sardinia) is a tremendously beautiful, rugged, and biodiverse region of our world which is multicultural at its core, and as a result, many plants that have come to be most commonly associated with our culture & food, are not actually native to these lands. In this discussion we will examine the process, interconnectedness, and effects of colonialism, capitalism & globalization on our relationships with plants through the lens of some of the most well known plants of Sud Italian herbal traditions.

We will be digging into the complexities of the relationships between plants, people and land – and the various ways in which plants adapt through their own intelligence and communion with the soil and spirit of land, and also the ways humans cultivate and purposefully alter plants to suit the environment and their own needs. In order to respectfully engage with Earth, the plants, and our ancestral traditions, we have to know where the plants come from and the events throughout time that have enabled our current relationships. In learning these origin stories we can thoughtfully engage with varying lands and environments and more clearly see the powerful impact they have on our existences. This is necessary knowledge which enables us to practice healthy ways of interacting in the world devoid of feelings of ownership & full of cross cultural respect & competency.

Plants we will be engaging with

  • Garlic

  • Rue

  • Basil

  • Rosemary

  • Olive (Leaf)

  • Wormwood/ mugwort

Though we will be discussing plants through the lens of Southern Italian Plant Medicine practices, this class is intended for any & everyone. The Plants we will be learning about were chosen for their accessibility & cross cultural presence.

Knowledge Share Includes

  • Brief background of Southern Italy’s diverse range of regional ecosystems and multicultural roots.

  • Discussion of the regionality of these lands and the resulting various & distinct herbal practices, while learning the foundational threads that run throughout all of them.

  • Origin stories of six medicinal plants prominent in Southern Italian herbalism & the multitude of ways they are worked with by the various cultures with relationships to them.

  • Examination of the complexities of ancestral plants as both those native to the regions of the world we are from, and also often those introduced to our regions that we then grow relationships with.

  • Discuss the sociocultural and elemental ways that plants move & adapt throughout time. *Sometimes by their own volition & the elements of the earth, other times by the hands of perpetrators of violence.*

  • Emphasize knowledge of origin and source as necessary for engaging in reciprocal and respectful relationships with Earth and as a foundation to be able to discern and reject ethnocentric and culturally appropriative ideas/ behaviors.

  • Equip ourselves with the tools to hear, feel, and see the messages from the Ortos, or small home gardens of Southern Italy – those of cross pollination that relay the strength in biodiversity.


$15- 50

Scholarships available, please email with subject Southern Italian Herbalism


Samantha is an artist, herbalist, farmer, and medicine maker. She grew up immersed in the ancestral herbal & cultural traditions of her Southern Italian immigrant family of farmers, herbalists, birthworkers, storykeepers, and weavers and is committed to keeping these reciprocal ways of living alive. Sam is clinically trained by Sud Italian lineage herbalists by way of traditional apprenticeship, and after completing became the main caretaker of her elders small farm. She is the founder of Terracotta Farmacia, a small batch apothecary offering a full spectrum of seasonally made whole plant medicine solely utilizing plants she grows and cares for. Sam is passionate about the ancient alchemical arts of distillation, soap making, and working with clay and inspiring others to get in touch with where they come from and the soil they stand on.

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