Emily Ruff, founder of the Florida Herbal Conference and Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living, is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade.
Her studies have taken her around three continents where she has studied under healers of many traditions. Her background in gardening and botany came in childhood while wandering the wilderness and digging in the sandy soils of Florida with her grandfather, a tobacco farmer turned urban gardener, and her father, a botany and astronomy professor. Her journey into herbalism continued through apprenticeships in Guatemala under the tutelage of local healers on the southern coast of Lake Atitlan, in the mountains of Vermont at the feet of Rosemary Gladstar, and in the Central Florida apothecary Leaves & Roots with herbalists Carolyn Whitford and George D’Arcy. Emily’s academic studies include Ethnobotany, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida and Curanderismo with the University of New Mexico. She is a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner.
Emily’s dedication to preserving bioregional medicinal plant traditions and ecosystems led her to become active in the organization United Plant Savers. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the Florida Herbal Conference event in 2012, an event which continues to sell out annually. In past years, she served multiple terms as president of the Herb Society of Central Florida and as co-founder of Homegrown Local Food Cooperative. Most recently, in response to the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Emily founded the Orlando Grief Care Project. From the community relationships cultivated through the national response to this tragedy, Emily has formed the Herbal Action Network to continue weaving the web of compassionate herbalism into community engagement. Her most recent work has taken her to Cannonball, North Dakota where she served with the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council.
Emily’s classes have been described as “heart-filled,” “enriching,” and “empowering,” creating a bridge between the teachings of our ancestors and the technologies of our modern world. Emily can be found in joy cooking, practicing yoga, writing, photographing flora, creating music with family and friends, and digging her fingers in the dirt. The plants continue to be her greatest teachers.
Emily’s 2019 Florida Herbal Conference class:
Sacred Passage: Providing compassionate care at the end of life
Our culture’s glorification of youth discourages healthy discourse around death, and often leaves us ill-equipped to address the complexities of end of life, when our own family faces loss or when it touches our herbal practice. This class will explore how we, as herbalists, can better support our loved ones during the end of life process. We will discuss physical and emotional care of the dying and the surviving family and friends, the art of holding sacred space while protecting our energy and practical strategies of providing support and care. Herbal allies and holistic tools will be highlighted as part of a framework for bringing beauty and grace to the last season of life.