"I did a lot of hitchhiking as a teenager," says Howie
Brounstein, who lived in the Hollywood Hills at the time.
"Oregon was the friendliest place I found." After high
school, Brounstein hitchhiked back to study botany and
agronomy at OSU. Though he didn't finish a degree, he got a
job doing research in the botany department and he continued
to take classes: "People thought I was a grad student."
Though he still works on occasion as a professional
botanist, particularly in surveys of theatened plants,
Brounstein's major interests are herbalism and wildcrafting.
As the founder and primary instructor of the Columbines
School of Botanical Studies, he has offered classes in wild
plant identification, location, harvesting, and processing
for 23 years. "We're known for our wildcrafting ethics," he
stresses. "We won't let people harvest any plants in class
unless they get the OK. If everyone took something, there
wouldn't be anything left." You can find Brounstein at booth
84 of the Oregon Country Fair in July. Learn more about
Columbines' academic offerings at botanicalstudies.net.
photograph and story by Paul Neevel
Eugene Weekly / 3 May 2007