“Participation in the Yerba Mansa project and Dara Saville’s classes has created a ripple effect for which I am incredibly grateful. I began taking classes the year my son was born because I wanted to empower myself with knowledge of herb medicine. Over the last five years, I have witnessed and experienced the power of plants to heal and support our well-being. Dara’s teachings revolve around our relationships with plants. Because of what I’ve learned, I’ve welcomed many medicinal plants into our gardens with a sense of curiosity, wonder, and awe. This has been a journey I have shared with my son as we admire and care for the plants in our yard together. We drink tea and make medicines from plants in our garden. As a family, we have taken part in the bosque restoration days, which is provided connection, community, and a sense of contribution. These have been memorable days we have shared together. The teaching has extended beyond my family, to friends, neighbors, and my professional life. Dara is an inspiration to me. Her teaching has empowered and encouraged creativity in my understanding and presence with plants. I anticipate continued work with the Yerba Mansa project and am truly grateful for Dara’s work.”
“My experiences with the Yerba Mansa Project have been nothing short of incredible. I was fortunate to bring students on their Ecology and Herbalism Bosque Walks in 2018 and 2019 and they were fantastic. I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the riparian ecosystem surrounding the Rio Grande but I always manage to learn something new and amazing every time. The tour guides do a great job keeping the students interested and engaged and use their time and the space expertly. Beyond that, working with their iNaturalist page on the plants of the Rio Grande is a great way for students to develop their research skills and learn something new about plants they see just walking around town. The work they do is essential to the long term health of the Bosque and the community.”
“It has been a privilege and joy to participate in the Yerba Mansa Project semiannual Bosque Restoration days. This project offers me a chance to interact and work with caring people of all age groups who are guided and overseen by professionals from the City Open Space department. All these people come together focused on making a visible and tangible difference to our environment and the Bosque. Each workday starts with safety instructions, followed by specific tasks to be accomplished. A variety of tasks allows individuals and families to choose how to spend their time and efforts. Having participated over multiple years, I have been able to see areas once infested with Ravenna grass now supporting native plants and being restored to a healthier condition. The whole project fosters a sense of community amongst diverse people and provides time interacting outdoors in nature that is beneficial to both the participants and the land. This is really a terrific project and one I hope is able to continue for many years to come.”
“I’ve been fortunate to visit the areas involved in the Yerba Mansa Project over the years. There’s been such an improvement in the land, water, and vegetation due to the treatments provided by the volunteers Dara Saville has recruited to remove unwanted invasives and plant appropriate native species. Not only has the land improved, but this project has helped many young people, including school children, become involved in their environment. It’s one of the best examples of citizen science and community engagement I’ve experienced. There will even be a publication created by these young people showcasing their achievements, further solidifying their interest in science, conservation, and public service.“
“I’ve been working with the Yerba Mansa project for a few months helping to water the new plantings in the Bosque. I got connected to this amazing project during the pandemic to find ways to connect with my local environment and community that is actively trying to better it. I am so grateful to the restoration space and all the native plants I get to nurture, and the subsequent questions I get to answer about the project from folks walking around the area. “
“The Yerba Mansa Project has made and is continuing to make a difference in drawing families and children into the bosque and encouraging them to learn about the bosque as part of their home environment. I speak with some authority as I served for awhile as Vice President on the YMP Board of Directors. YMP sponsors Bosque Restoration days twice a year. Over a period of years these restoration days have accomplished a lot in terms of removal of an extremely invasive weed called ravenna grass. In addition to invasive removal, participants help restore native plants to the bosque by planting plants such as yerba mansa. I can recall when ravenna grass completely dominated the ground surrounding the two ponds in the bosque near Tingley Beach. YMP has successfully recruited numerous volunteers on these Bosque Restoration days and now these ponds have a more natural appearance as ravenna grass is nearly absent. YMP Director Dara Saville has told me that some of the people that have volunteered on Bosque Restoration Day told her that they had never visited the bosque previously. This fact alone is enough to establish the importance of the Bosque Restoration Days as well as the education initiatives (field trips for school children) in exposing families and children to the bosque. YMP thinks of its bosque activities in terms of community. The families, children, other participating individuals, the plants and animals, and the river itself are all part of a community. YMP is engaged in other educational initiatives that include developing a bosque field guide that is created by children. The field guide ties all the components of the community together. In short, the Yerba Mansa Project makes a difference in making the bosque a part of a community composed of families and children. “
“The Yerba Mansa Project gave me the opportunity to learn about local plants and meet community in a new to me ecosystem/city. I was also very inspired to hear of the work that they do in the community with youth, inspired how many people show up to restoration days, and thrilled to hear that local wildcrafting with a critical eye was being taught and paired with restoration work. This project is very unique and valuable. “
“Although I was born and raised in Albuquerque and grew up close to the Mountains, I never had much of a chance to spend time with our River, or amongst the towering River Cottonwoods alongside it’s banks. The Yerba Mansa Project changed my life when they helped me make a relationship to our central water way, the Rio Grande, the surrounding Bosque, and most importantly to bring understanding of the importance of Riparian ecosystems, particularly the quickly disappearing and essential Desert Wetlands that occur within these spaces & all life encompassed within them. Whether it has been working amongst community members during the Spring clean up event to remove detrimental invasive grasses, the Fall event to plant a multitude of needed native species, or my experience as an intern, then hauling water to care for newly established native transplants in the scorching Summer months, I have embraced a new sense of responsibility and meaning, found in the precious moments of solitude and community care that are encompassed by Yerba Mansa Projects’ initiatives. Their community events create outdoor, inter-generational learning opportunities that give back to the land and water while helping those young and old learn that they can make an impact in their place that is larger and longer lasting than can be imagined. I am grateful to Yerba Mansa Project for the inclusive space they create for all to participate, for the unique opportunity for those in an Urban area to find a way to connect with and protect this central ecosystem that every living thing in our High Desert relies upon for sustained livelihood. This kind of work really teaches us that small impacts matter, that we can be a part of meaningful change no matter who we are, and that working to help the land heal also means making space for our healing potential as individuals and as a community. ”
“About three years ago I moved to Albuquerque for the second time. One day I happened upon a notice for a free class (put on by the Yerba Mansa Project at the Open Space Visitor Center) on local medicinal plants. At that point I’d not had any specific interest in or education around plants as medicine and had certainly never been exposed to community models of herbalism or ecological restoration, but decided to go (it was free! As many of their offerings thankfully are). I was absolutely captivated during that class and from there became a regular participant in Albuquerque Herbalism’s series, courses and plant walks (led by Dara and her highly skilled community of educators, scientists, and herbalists) as well as the Yerba Mansa Project’s community-based Bosque restoration efforts.
The foundational principles and practices I continually encountered working with and learning from Albuquerque Herbalism and the Yerba Mansa project are what kept me coming back. I consistently experienced a deep commitment to involving us all, coupled with creativity, generosity, and patience around education and level of involvement (multigenerational and accessible to those with a wide variety of skills, abilities, time, and financial circumstances); a deep knowledge of the bioregional botanical history, inhabitants, ecologies and mythologies from the Bosque to the Sandias and beyond; and an incredibly nuanced and practical vision (backed by physical evidence) of the impact an engaged community can have on the physical restoration and future of the landscapes we inhabit and depend upon.
These lessons, transformations, and hands-on experiences continue to be guiding forces for me even though, for now, Albuquerque is not my home. I use the skills learned through my engagement with Albuquerque Herbalism and the Yerba Mansa Project (particularly around building knowledgeable relationships with plants, landscapes and people) on a regular basis in my new home – assisting with the facilitation of community herbalism-based mutual aid and education as well as participating in community efforts to restore traditional, land-based values of reciprocity – and always, thanks in large part to Albuquerque Herbalism and the Yerba Mansa Project, from a place of generosity, creativity and accessibility.
I still have the notes I took from that very first free class (mostly drawing after drawing of plant after plant) as a reminder of the truly unexpected gift I was given that day.”
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