Meet Sarah (she/her)
I'm a Vermont transplant hailing from the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York, the ancestral territory of the Sovereign Onondaga Nation. I was raised amongst rolling hillside meadows, rich gardens, diverse forests and swamp lands, and many lakes teeming with fish and bird species, all of whom left impressions in my heart and spirit. I began studying plants, herbal medicine, foraging, and permaculture in 2015.
Moved by my experiences in grassroots organizing, I found herbalism to be a powerful intersection of environmental justice, racial justice, economic justice, and the basic human right to compassionate care. I completed my formal studies at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism (VCIH), an herb school located in Central Vermont with curriculum and practitioner development rooted in financial accessibility and community-centered care. In 2020, I graduated from VCIH's advanced Clinical Herbalist program; a rigorous 3 year, 1500-hour training that spans in-depth topics in anatomy and physiology, herb-drug interactions, Western Herbalism, clinical research, herbal formulation, phytochemistry, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and client-practitioner skills. I practiced in VCIH’s sliding scale student clinic between Feb-Dec 2020, further honing my clinical experiences with various health concerns including:
Mental health & nervous system dysregulation
Digestive complaints of all kinds
Chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions
Endocrine conditions including Type 1 + 2 Diabetes, thyroid issues, PCOS, and endometriosis
Fertility & Pregnancy
Acute respiratory and viral illnesses
Harm reduction strategies for substance misuse
I am also an alum of the University of Vermont (’15) and have received two Permaculture Design Certifications. Sarah is currently in the process of completing training as an AcuDetox Specialist.
A plant-lover through and through, I am also Co-founder of Hillside Botanicals, a small certified organic hemp and medicinal herb farm located in Central Vermont, the unceded lands of the Abenaki people. I've been an active member of the Vermont Chapter of Herbalists Without Borders since 2018 and am participating grower with the Abenaki Land Link Project.
As a descendent of Irish, Swiss, and English heritage I am engaged in a lifelong process of confronting how White Settlerism and privilege show up in my life and lineage. This includes my herbal training, which includes immense contributions from Black herbalists, indigenous medicine people of Turtle Island, curanderas, and healers of Eastern traditions. This work has largely inspired the Hummingbird Program, which is a project of solidarity and reparations that is in constant evolution. I am continually inspired by the unyielding resilience humans show in the face of capitalistic oppression, and am committed to building enduring relationships between humans, Land, and plants as means of collective liberation and vitality.
Why 'Humble Hummingbird'?
The name "Humble Hummingbird" is one that came to me as I began my journey as an herbalist, homesteader, and farmer. First thing's first, alliteration is basically my identity - my name is Sarah Shaw after all.
Their fleeting presence of hummingbirds reminds us all that we are but one piece of the dynamic ecology around us, and that our human existence is a reflection of theirs. To catch fleeting moments with hummingbirds requires attunement to the ephemeral magic embodied in the land, and that is the very basis for my relationship with Nature and the plants.
Often you hear the fast-paced beating of the hummingbird's wings before you catch the glittering green, gold, and aqua hues of its dainty feathers as it flits about drinking sweet floral nectar. That is how we often come to realize our innate relationship with nature, and ourselves. We hear or feel a certain something before we can see it materialize. That is intuition at its essence. This is a reminder to call in slowness and patience in our fast-paced culture. A reminder to listen to ourselves and the world around us in order to see possible relationships and engage in authentic reciprocity. Further, I am awed by the physical capacity of hummingbirds to hover on all planes. This unique ability symbolizes the role an herbalist must play as they honor their clients from a holistic lens while reaffirming no path towards healing is linear. We must hold all aspects of the journey as valuable, whether they exist in past, present, or future.
As an herbalist, I acknowledge that I shall never know all there is to discover in the rich healing traditions I encounter, and yet the very ability to be in communion with the plants, water, and wild beings is so deeply humbling.