Our Instructors

Get to Know Us

Albuquerque Herbalism is proud to feature classes with a range of perspectives informed by the varied professional backgrounds of our instructors. What we have in common is deep connection to our beloved Southwestern landscape. Read more about our approach to herbal education here.

Dara Saville

Dara Saville

Founder; Series Courses, Herbal Products Making Courses

Meet Dara

Dara Saville is the founder of Albuquerque Herbalism and the Executive Director of the Yerba Mansa Project, a nonprofit organization. Her work involves teaching herbalists, organizing the community to undertake native medicinal plant restoration on public lands, writing on medicinal plants and landscapes of the Southwest, and fostering a renewed land connection through public events and field trips.

Dara is the author of her first book through the University of New Mexico Press, The Ecology of Herbal Medicine: A Guide to Plants and Living Landscapes of the American Southwest and a contributing author to several herbal compendium books. She is currently a Geography PhD student in a joint program at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University with a focus on GeoHumanities and medicinal plants. She is also a graduate of Tieraona Low Dog’s Foundations of Herbal Medicine program and an instructor in UNM’s Holistic Health Program.

Donna O'Donovan

Donna O'Donovan

Constitution & Energetics + Hydrosols & Distillates + Fermentation Courses

Meet Donna

Donna has had a love of plants and nature since her youth, foraging briar leaves, admiring club mosses and orchids of the New England woods. She is ever grateful to her nature science teacher as a child. Violets and lemon balm in her grandmother’s garden and foraging wild mushrooms with her Aunt in Ireland are formative experiences. She has learned from a number of herbal teachers, programs, practitioners and a walkabout apprenticeship in the Sandia Mountains. She also studied at Albuquerque Herbalism in the Advanced Program.

Other pursuits have combined herbal activism and education through a weekly herbal radio program featuring folkways and herb talk along with many guest speakers.

She has gained great knowledge through the varied and often under radar experiences of working in herbal retail settings for the past number of years. She currently lives in the Chihuhuan desert in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she helps run the Wellness Department at a local Co-op. Her favorite strategy, while perusing the herb and supplement aisles, is to inspire people by educating about simple, accessible lifestyle supports. Offering ideas for tea blends and recipes. You will find her there doing what she loves and sharing that enthusiasm in her community herbal classes that she is offering at the Mountain View Market Co-op.

She can be contacted for classes and offerings at maytreeherbals@gmail.com

Anna Marija Helt

Anna Marija Helt

Medicinal Mushroom + Aromatherapy + Chronic Inflammation Courses

Meet Marija

Dr. Anna Marija Helt is an herbalist and microbiologist in Durango, Colorado. Before falling in love with all things plant, she researched cancer development and pathogenic viruses for a dozen years as a research scientist. After career burnout hit, she switched to running a motorcycle cafe in San Francisco while studying western herbalism, aromatherapy, and a smidgen of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Upon moving to Colorado, Marija became a full time botanical geek, clinical practitioner, and writer. She incorporates weeds, only the most abundant native plants, mushrooms, and aromatics as her allies. Her continuing goal is to help clients to reach their greatest health and to introduce botanical medicine to folks who are not already on the bandwagon. Her approach involves a deep study of herbal traditions combined with a critical evaluation of botanical research science.

Through Osadha Natural Health, Marija works one on one with clients to help them achieve their health goals. She also teaches classes and workshops on a wide range of topics in natural health and biological science, as well as working one on one with students wanting a more personalized education plan.

Atava Garcia Swiecicki

Atava Garcia Swiecicki

Mexican Traditional Medicine/Curanderismo

Meet Atava

Atava Garcia Swiecicki, MA, RH (AHG) is guided by her dreams and her Mexican, Polish, Hungarian and Diné ancestors. She studied Feminist Studies at Stanford University and received her master’s degree in the Indigenous Mind Program at Naropa University Oakland. Atava has studied healing arts extensively for over thirty years and has been mentored by herbalists, curanderas and traditional knowledge keepers. She works as a clinical herbalist and teacher and is dedicated to remembering the healing traditions of her ancestors and supporting others to reconnect with their ancestral medicine. She also loves helping people build relationships with plants, whom she considers some of our greatest teachers and healers. Atava is the founder of the Ancestral Apothecary School of Herbal, Folk and Indigenous Medicine on Ohlone territory in Oakland, CA. She’s currently living in Tewa Pueblo territory in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she finished writing her first book called The Curanderx Toolkit: Reclaiming Ancestral Latinx Plant Medicine and Rituals for Healing.

Her websites are: www.ancestralapothecary.com and www.ancestralapothecaryschool.com.

Asha Canalos

Asha Canalos

Herbal Cocktails + Medicinal Gardening

Meet Asha

Asha Canalos is an artist, landscape designer, environmental justice advocate, and writer, with over 25 years’ experience professionally gardening and farming. She has a passion for community-building, knowledge-sharing, and for protection of our ecological systems and more-than-human allies. Asha received her BA in Visual Arts from Antioch College, and a dual degree MFA and MS at The Pratt Institute. Most recently, she has been a regular Visiting Artist with The Land Arts of the American West program at The University of New Mexico, and a guest instructor in the Art & Ecology program, also at UNM.

A decade of environmental and community activism has taught Asha how critically important it is to establish healthy foundations of self-care and resilience-building. For her, this includes connectivity to plants as healing allies and teachers, and a determination to inject joy into her work, through playfulness, creativity, humor, and deep engagement with community. Asha believes in the power of collaboration and communication to breathe life into a new and better world.

This year, Asha is launching a small business featuring an herbal products line and limited edition art posters, prints, and stationery, with a dedicated portion of profits going to grassroots environmental justice campaigns across the country. You can follow Asha’s projects at her website, www.ashacanalos.com.


About Our Team

We offer a variety of classes, including one-day topics as well as in-depth series courses. Making herbal education accessible through affordable classes, community partnerships, native plant restoration and increasing the health and well-being of our human community via connection to the common wild and cultivated plants of our local area is our goal.


Natural Strategies for Autoimmunity & Chronic Inflammation

“I thought this was a very informative class and would really like to learn more of what you know…There was so much information to take in and I am so appreciative of you forwarding on to us the wonderfully detailed notes. If you have the class again I know several other people that…wish they had taken the class. I never met anybody who gets autoimmunity the way you do. Again, thank you so much.”

— Nancy

Herbalism Series

“Just wanted to say first of all I have really enjoyed your class….you have SUCH good positive energy about you! Looking forward to class in May and I have started dreaming/planning my herb garden this year. Cannot wait to start working with these “beings” myself and really getting to know them on a level I never realized was even possible. I have really started looking at and moving in the world very differently on hikes etc since becoming your student.”

— Molly

Advanced Herbalists Group

“I had been wanting to e-mail you and just say how amazing your medicine is…. I used the cough tincture combo and it got rid of my sore throat and prevented a cough like never before for me. I just wanted to compliment you on your medicine making and say I am a believer more then I was before which I didn’t think possible!”

— DeAnn

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms: Hawk’s Wing (Sarcodon imbricatus)

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms - Hawk's Wings (Sarcodon imbricatus) by Dr. Marija Helt   With its brown cap layered with dark, protruding scales, this large mushroom does indeed resemble a hawk’s wing. As for the botanical name, sarco is derived from Greek for “flesh”,...

Anthropocene Apothecary

by Dara Saville Native Medicinal Plants That May Proliferate with Disturbance Events: . Recent news cycles have been dominated by stories of climate change including floods, extreme heat, and wildfires. Disturbance events such as large-scale and high-intensity fires...

Bokashi! The Fermentation That Builds Soil

by Donna O'Donovan The Ubiquitous Microbe Lactobacillus: . Cabbage leaves provide good habitat for air borne Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus also stars in a compost method known as bokashi, where food waste and scraps become "pickled" via the bokashi process. And,...

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms: A Lot About Artist’s Conk

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms - A Lot About Artist's Conk by Dr. Marija Helt   Artist’s Conk. People actually do create art on it. More on this momentarily. But first… A conk is a shelf fungus. “Shelf” because the fruiting body (aka. the reproductive bits) sticks...

Oaks: Acorns, Flour, Perspective

by Donna O'Donovan Acorns from Oaks + Making Acorn Flour + Oaks in Perspective The English words for flower and flour come from the old French word flor or flour. This means blossom or the finest thing. Such as a flower can be. The ground flour from wheat, rye,...

On Healing: A Gardener’s Perspective

In the author’s garden, mounds of Wormwood, Bee Balm, Sage and Lavender benefit from peripheral shade and dense plantings; the Pollinators have a buffet of nectars and pollens to choose from.On Healing: A Gardener’s Perspective by Asha Canalos A couple of years ago, I...

The Normalcy of Nature in Otherwise Odd Times

The Normalcy of Nature in Otherwise Odd Times by Dara Saville Some people say they fell in love as their eyes met with their partner’s across a crowded room. They describe it as love at first sight. I know what that is like. Stopping at a roadside pullout in the...

Artemisia: Excerpt from The Ecology of Herbal Medicine

Artemisia/Sage: The Ecology of Herbal Medicine The following is an excerpt from Dara Saville's new book The Ecology of Herbal Medicine: A Guide to Plants and Living Landscapes of the American Southwest from the University of New Mexico Press (2021).  Artemisia...

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms – Puffballs 101

Rocky Mountain Mushrooms - Puffballs 101 by Dr. Marija Helt   Did you know that mushrooms are more closely related to animals than to plants? Or, that what we generally refer to as a “mushroom” is actually the reproductive apparatus of the fungus? We don’t...

Cultivating Mental Health During the Pandemic Winter

Cultivating Mental Health During the Pandemic Winter by Angie True ...in the midst of horrorwe fed on beauty—and that,my love, is what sustained us. — Rita Dove, “Transit" To cultivate mental health during the pandemic winter, the first thing is to avoid categorizing...