Farm to Pharmacy is an innovative internship program that takes place at Goldthread Herb Farm and Apothecary in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. Educational and life changing, the internship offers participants the chance to play a pivotal role in the Grassroots Healthcare Revolution. Find unparalleled communion with the medicinal plants themselves as well as a community that emphasizes sustainable, non-toxic and cost effective healthcare grounded in organic agriculture and empowered self-care for all.
Goldthread offers interns the rare opportunity to learn fundamentals of both traditional medicine and plant cultivation side by side. Synthesizing Chinese, Ayurvedic and Western herbal traditions, our educational offerings are a comprehensive compliment to the abundance of time spent outdoors. We welcome herbal medicine students from all walks of life and are happy to facilitate college credit where possible.
THE PROGRAM: Agricultural, Theoretical and Practical training come together
Over the course of this experiential seven-month program, students divide their day at Goldthread’s organic herb farm between classes in herbal theories and supervised work with the plants in over 3 acres of fields. An early spring day might include planting seeds in the greenhouse or uncovering rows of perennial herbs in the still-awakening fields. As the farm comes to life, there are new gardens to prepare and seedlings to plant. Late summer brings the harvest and perhaps the most intoxicating interaction with the plants of all!
Herb walks in the learning garden to practice identification and discuss botanical characteristics will compliment lectures and coursework. A lesson about immunity and treating the common cold is enhanced by the process of cultivating Echinacea and Astragalus. Subjects will range from the major classifications and their specific healing properties to the medicinal applications for a wide variety of medical conditions.
Agricultural and theoretical training are applied synergistically as interns process and prepare medicines for the apothecary with the guidance of our knowledgeable staff. Watch as your hard work turns the freshly harvested flowers, leaves and roots of 25-30 of the major medicinal herbs grown on the farm into tinctures, syrups, teas, salves, elixirs and oils.
AND BEYOND: Full Emersion in the Healthcare Revolution
The internship experience is enhanced by participation in the host of other programs offered by Goldthread. Over the course of the summer, an optional intensive week of study with author and herbalist David Crow will take place at the farm. Included in the internship program are many additional learning opportunities taking place off the farm at our apothecary in Shelburne Falls and in the wider community. Goldthread offers lectures and demonstrations in many specific areas and aspects of healing with monthly themes and outreach programs. Join us as we supply local low-income community gardens with seedlings or sit in on an elaborate discussion of the benefits of an herbal spring cleaning program. The wider community of the Pioneer Valley itself is brimming with opportunities to further your immersion into a culture of true sustainability in action.
Upon completion of the program, interns come away with an extensive understanding of the theories of herbal healing, the agricultural training to cultivate the major medicinal herbs in their own space, and the practical skills to apply their new knowledge and begin healing themselves and their families.
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Farm to Pharmacy takes place among the beautiful foothills of the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, at Goldthread herb farm in Conway, MA. Our four-acre farm is surrounded by conifer and hardwood forests filled with streams and wildlife. The area is renowned for its natural beauty, agricultural character, and vibrant communities. At the cultural center is the 5-College area and Northampton in particular. With its abundant arts, music, and food, it has consistently been named as one of the top small arts towns in the U.S. Goldthread Apothecary is in nearby Florence.
Classes begin at the farm at 9am and end at 4pm. There will occasionally be special events that go into the evening, ending by 9pm. Days are structured with breaks, and students will divide their time between lecture and discussion in the classroom and working on the farm throughout the day. The work will be hands-on and varied; while often physical and occasionally demanding, students will not be asked to over-exert themselves. There will be plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.
What to Bring
Classes take place both in the learning barn and outdoors regardless of weather. Layers are always advisable — it's 100˚ in the greenhouse and it's easy to work up a sweat weeding the beds, but it can get cool in the evenings and inside the learning barn. Rain jackets also come in handy, as do sun hats/caps for protecting against sunburn. We recommend that you check the weather before class and plan accordingly. It is an area where ticks that carry the Lyme bacteria are present, so enclosed shoes, light-colored long sleeves/pants, and frequent spot checks are recommended. More information about this is available online and from us.
Since the program includes herb walks and work on the farm it's recommended to bring appropriate footwear. We will definitely experience some of "Mud Season" so waterproof rubber boots work well. Hiking boots, sneakers, sport-sandals all work well - just wear whatever you'll feel comfortable working in and potentially getting dirty. Students often bring slippers or moccasins to wear inside the learning barn, as shoes are left outside.
We have all the tools needed at the farm, and several pairs of work gloves, though some students bring their own gloves.
Food & Drink
Tea is served throughout the day. Lunch is not provided. Bringing your own (healthy!) lunch is always encouraged, but there is also a wonderful food coop called McCuskers about 10 minutes away in Shelburne Falls. They have delicious soups, sandwiches, snacks, prepared hot and cold goodies, drinks etc. Students should bring plenty of water to drink or a refillable water bottle.
Students should bring a 3-ring Binder to best store the educational materials that are handed out throughout the course, plus pens/pencils, notebooks, and whatever else is needed for taking notes.
Carpooling from to the farm is required as there is limited parking at the farm. We will help to arrange this as the time draws closer.