When she returned to Kansas City in 1996, she taught her first herbalism class in the back room of a new-age shop in Raytown; only a few people attended. She later moved the classes to her own Waldo living room. Now, her Prairie Wise Herbal School is an accredited institution with 200 students taking classes throughout the city.
"When I started, I had trouble finding books," Wheeler recalls. At that time, she says, books on herbs were usually cookbooks. "Now the field has grown so much there's almost too much information." Plenty of it will be available at the first-ever Sunflower Healing Festival, which takes its cue from a popular and now defunct herbal fest in Iowa. The three-day event will feature an apothecary's worth of alternative healing, including aromatherapy sessions and yoga instruction. Among the speakers participating in a total of 46 workshops are Weed, who has now written four herbalist books, and Stephen Foster, a botanist and photographer.
The event also promises "play time, meal time and quiet time" -- so there's no need to fear being up to your neck in acupuncture the entire weekend. The Joe Roberts Band will provide a healthy dose of bluegrass. "We're like licorice," Roberts has said of his band. "Not everyone likes us, but those who do like us a lot."