How one herbalist is inspiring the plant-curious with wellness walks.

Group Hike
Courtesy of Herb Club LA

There is nothing more soothing than that first whiff of autumn air, with its slight scent of damp leaves and a morning crispness that refreshes the spirit while evoking excitement for the new season ahead. I look forward to it—more than any pumpkin spice drink out there. And with busy back-to-school schedules and what feels like some of the quickest holiday-haze months ahead, it’s important to schedule time to slow down. I can’t think of a better way to do that than by taking a group walk in nature to honor the seasonal shift. Enter Herb Club LA—founded by Andrea Jimenez—which was created to make space to help people reconnect with their true nature within nature. 

Andrea Jimenez
Andrea Jimenez in nature.

Photo courtesy of Herb Club LA.

Andrea believes that by reconnecting with the land and with each other, we can improve the health of individuals, communities, and our environment. A typical meetup involves learning about the medicinal and cultural significance of the plants found within our environment. Her focus is on land stewardship with a strong emphasis on community building. Growing up as a first-generation Mexican-American with Native American heritage, she likes to pay homage and respect to Native American ways of living with the land. 

“Educational hikes involving plant identification have become a mission behind Herb Club because we believe that planting the seed for environmental stewardship is more important now than ever,” Andrea told me. “It is one of the best ways to help people living in Los Angeles connect with nature and learn to care for it by helping develop a sense of home in a city that may not seem rich in natural spaces.”

It sounds like we all could use a wellness walk. So, no matter where you live, Andrea offers six ways to be more mindful in nature as we shift into the autumn months ahead. 

Look for Little Details

Noticing Little Details

Courtesy of Herb Club LA

One of Andrea’s favorite ways to connect with nature during transitional seasons is by going on weekly walks or hikes in the same spot and taking note of the changes happening in the surrounding plants. While many mild-climate cities in the West might not feel like they have a full-on seasonal shift, there are other things to look for to honor the season of change. Andrea suggests looking for the finer details, such as the color shifts in native plants whose blooms fade into a gorgeous rusty rose this time of year. “California buckwheat, which blooms in the spring, turns completely crimson in the fall,” she says. “So, you go from having these fluffy white bushes early on in the year to these beautiful red bushes throughout the Los Angeles National Forest in the fall and winter months.”

Find Mindfulness in Medicinal Plants

Andrea also likes to plant as many native plants as she can in her garden so she can harvest in the autumn when their medicine is most potent. She points out, “Mugwort is most powerful when it blooms in the fall, so this is when I harvest my mugwort and use it to make small-batch dream sprays and oils. Making medicine with plants is a beautiful way to connect with nature during the transitional seasons.”

Try Wildcrafting

Making Oil with Dried Flowers

Courtesy of Herb Club LA

Working with plants is another way to celebrate the seasonal shift. While some people like to preserve their vegetable gardens, Andrea likes to make small-batch oils and dream sprays using Artemisia vulgaris for friends and family. “It’s a great autumn plant for aiding in balance since it is ruled by Pisces, the most introspective sign,” she says. “It’s always good to go slow with mugwort since it is extremely bitter to taste and potent for those that are sensitive.”

Go out During the Sunset

Another way to celebrate the arrival of autumn is to take a walk during the sunset. “Sunsets represent the descension into the darkness that is a symbol of winter,” Andrea explains. “During your walk, notice the changes in the leaves of the trees. Are the oaks producing acorns yet? Noticing changes and getting acquainted with balance is the best way to celebrate the arrival of autumn in nature.”

Take Notes

Herb Club Taking Notes

Courtesy of Herb Club LA

Andrea also keeps a field journal, especially when frequenting the same places every few weeks to take note of how plants change over the year. “Sometimes I focus on a specific species for months at a time. I take pictures of said plant, research, and sit with it. These steps have developed my herbalism practice more than anything else,” she adds.

Join the Club

This fall Herb Club LA will be launching an eight-week program called “Friends of the Wild.” During this eight-week program there will be three in-person meetings where participants take deep dives into different ecosystems and native flora and perhaps start thinking about becoming land stewards themselves. Throughout the season there will also be various Herb Walks where the only cost is an optional donation, a Gratitude Circle, and plant-dye workshops. Keep tabs on upcoming events through Eventbrite and sign up for their newsletter, or check out their plant-filled Instagram for inspiration you can tap into from anywhere. 

Here’s to hitting the trails this season and soaking up the inspiration, reflection, and rejuvenation that only nature can offer! 

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