In 2023 we organized 53 Wellness Workshops, in addition to those offered at our clinic, to reach 310 unduplicated clients through 490 visits at vineyard worksites, schools and partner organizations in Santa Rosa, Guerneville, Sonoma Valley, Cloverdale and limited sites outside of Sonoma County.
The following monthly series offer unique topics per session determined by community needs assessment and Promotora CHW expertise:
¡Presente para Nutrirnos![Present to Nourish Us!]:whole, accessible Indigenous foods and traditional recipes for type two diabetes prevention and care.
Sembrando Semillas de Autocuidado [Planting Seeds of Selfcare]: Indigenous herbalism and cycles of healing connected to the seasons.
Reposo en Respiración [Rest in Your Breath]: breathwork and meditation for inner strength and stress relief.
Cuidando los Cuidadores [Caring for Care Providers]: herbal medicine and mindfulness practices that center our own unique sense of wellbeing and commitment to self-care as essential to care-providing.
¡Arte! [Art!]: art therapy for whole person care.
Ciclos de Sanación [Healing Cycles]: feminine care connected to natural healing cycles.
In recognition of the disproportionate access to education and certification programs in integrative health and in alignment with our mission to empower holistic healthcare by-and-for Latine and Indigenous people, we provide Latine and Indigenous herbalists paths into clinical practice.
In 2023, year two of our clinical apprenticeship program, 70% of previous year apprentices joined our team as staff to provide specialized care in their own communities. We welcomed three new apprentices to 180+ hours of paid training March – November 2023. This year’s apprentices joined us for additional training opportunities including; six hours of trauma informed care training with On the Margins Inc. that centers Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and sociocultural and organizational trauma; and 24-hours training with our team of Promotora CHWs as part of our Land-Based Convivencia Training Program for intergenerational knowledge sharing and mentorship.
A word from last year’s apprentice and newly hired Clinical Herbalist, Daniela Myers-Guzman: “I cannot express enough how much this mentorship opportunity has deepened my education and widened my perspective on working with someone as a clinical herbalist.”
This year we witnessed the great value of cultural knowledge in the clinical setting, creating platforms for equitable learning between herbal apprentices and certified/licensed practitioners. This learning (and unlearning), allows us to provide safe, effective and culturally centered care to our clients through the incorporation of clinical protocol, evidence based practice and expertise in Latine and Indigenous healing traditions.
The Botanical Bus is founded and led by Latine and Indigenous Promotora CHWs, many of whom identify as Campesinas [people who know and work the land]. Promotora CHW workforce development is a direct investment in the Latine and Indigenous community we serve and central to our mission of empowering holistic health by-and-for Latine and Indigenous people. 80% of our staff identify as Latine and/or Indigenous and 100% as Spanish speaking. All of our outreach, forms, programming and services are provided in Spanish and take into consideration literacy levels, limitations using technology, and levels of trust accessing care.
In 2023 we provided our team of seven Promotora CHWs 79 hours of paid training in first aid certification, CHW certification, trauma-informed care, and self-understanding, healing and growth for mental health practitioners.
In addition to our paid training program, Botanical Bus Promotora CHWs access an education benefit towards tuition costs of continued education and certification programs.
Healing Harvest Program
Botanical Bus Promotora CHWs participate in a Healing Harvest Program, launched by Botanical Bus in 2022 in partnership with Traditional Medicinals Foundation at Green Valley Mill + Farm, a .65 acre, 100 varietal herb farm located in West Sonoma County. In our second year program, we have made the following impact:
Job Creation for Promotora Community Health Workers (CHWs)
The program creates a part-time paid position with the Botanical Bus to facilitate the harvest, processing and distribution of local, organically grown herbal medicine through our Farmworker Clinics. The position is currently filled by Juliana Jimenez, certified CHW and Indigenous woman from Oaxaca, MX. Juliana leads the Botanical Bus wellness workshop series “¡Presente para Nutrirnos! / Present to Nourish Ourselves!, which centers Indigenous foods in diabetes support and prevention. Juliana works 6-12 hours a week harvesting herbal medicine. She shares: “My work with the Healing Harvest program allows me to connect to the earth. This is our best medicine.”
Land-Based Convivencia Training Program
The program includes quarterly, land-based learning retreats for our team of seven Promotora CHWs and three herbal apprentices. The Botanical Bus Promotora CHWs and herbal apprentices all identify as Latine and Indigenous people, the majority of whom have limited access to land where they can practice intergenerational knowledge of cultivating herbal medicine.
This year’s trainings, chosen by group interest and consensus included:
Power of Rest: restorative yoga practice, clinical training on nervine herbs and milky oat harvest
Elements of Healing: incense making in the garden, training in Ayurvedic medicine and seasonal herb harvest
Celebrating the Harvest: land tending ceremony and seasonal herb harvest
Grounded Communication: tools for non-violent communication and root harvest
Local Organic Herbal Medicine Harvest
Our harvest is determined by inventory levels and distribution needs of the Botanical Bus Mobile Herb Clinic that distributed custom tea blends to 261 clients in 2023. We distributed make-your-own-tea blends to an additional 1,322 people at vineyard worksite wellness fairs and Farmworker Foundation events. Tea blends included Relaja-té [Relaxing Tea] and Respira [Breath] tea for spring allergy support.
In sourcing local, organic herbal medicine, the Botanical Bus commits to sustainability, connects our programs to the earth and provides Promotora CHWs the powerful opportunity to tend the land.
I sit across the table from Concepción (her name changed in this story to protect her privacy) at a café up the street from her current home, a shelter for youth at risk of being unhoused. She immigrated to Sonoma County alone from San Martín, a region of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
“The water from the river pools into a deep, clear swimming hole where I am from. I stay in the water all day.My father and I are expert swimmers….and my mother knows all about medicinal plants. I think my father fell in love with her because of her expertise.” She brightens as she shares about a paste made from cacao and cinnamon that her mother uses for treating her acne.
Concepción arrived in the United States early 2023 with a serious injury to her foot and hand. Unable to walk due to nerve damage, she experienced extreme hardship. “The first week I arrived was very hard. I felt so much sadness. But the next week I started to find help.”
She first visited the Botanical Bus clinic at La Plaza: Nuestra Cultura Cura in Santa Rosa about a month after her arrival. “I had started receiving care for my injury, ex-rays and medication from the hospital, but I was in a lot of pain. I started asking around about a place to find natural medicine and someone in Roseland (Santa Rosa) told me about the Botanical Bus.”
Concepción speaks fluent Spanish and Quechua. She shares, “When I arrived at the clinic to hear people speaking Spanish, I felt more free.”
She has attended 12 clinics this year and received 36 direct healthcare services, including clinical herbalism, acupuncture and physical therapy. She tells us, “After my first few visits taking recommended herbal medicine and receiving acupuncture at the Botanical Bus, I could feel my nerves reacting to the treatments. I thought to myself, yes…this is working.”
She continues to share with pride more plant remedies: llanten [plantain] and amargon [dandelion] for stomach aches; apio [celery] and hierba larga [native plant similar to horsetail] for endurance; jengibre [ginger] and limón [lemon] for colds. I am happy to see her recovery. Over the last few months, her limp is barely noticeable and there is joy in her voice and eyes.
“My mom sent me looking for natural remedies. It is because of her advice that I found the Botanical Bus and that I am feeling better.” She smiles. “My mom always told us to trust our knowledge.”
Concepción confirms our commitment to cultivating spaces of belonging where Botanical Bus clients can communicate in the comfort and ease of their lengua materna[mother tongue], celebrate their knowledge of herbal medicine and connect to the place- to the plants, the land and the river- where they are from.
Maria Rivera was born in the pine forest, on a mountain twelve hours outside the nearest town in Michoacan, Mexico. “There was absolute green everywhere,” she shares. “Living in an isolated place, I felt fully accompanied by my surroundings… by the wind, the sun, the corn, the plants in our home garden. We spent our days in the open, harvesting verdolagas, nopales, quelites, plums, plátanos, y todo del jardín.”
Midsummer, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Maria about her life and somatic therapy practice with the Botanical Bus Mobile Herb Clinic. Maria moved from her mountain home of Buena Vista to Santa Rosa, California when she was 15 years old.
She smiles as she reflects: “Just a few days ago, I was walking down the hallway at work and I placed something on my head to move it from one office to the next. I was reminded of carrying water back home from the spring in the mountains, one bucket on my head and two in my hands. I was born drinking that water from the source. I was completely cared for by nature.”
We sit together in the shade of a fruit tree in the community garden. She continues, “I was a nervous child. I felt alone when I was not outside collecting plants or gathering firewood. I used to lay in bed at night unable to sleep with the feeling that I was disappearing, diminishing to nothing. I would place my hands on my chest, line them up there and I was able to calm myself. I see now that I was offering myself love and kindness.”
“As an adult, I continue being anxious. But something led me back…the realization that we all know how to nurture ourselves. The knowledge is in all of us, in slightly different ways. I found my way back with breath. My breath brought me right back to earth, right back to where I began. And that continues to be a source of strength, a source of peace, a source of love, a source of grand understanding.”
At the Botanical Bus Mobile Herb Clinic, Maria leads Reposo en Respiración [Rest in Breath] workshops, in which she guides small groups in breathing practice that connects each of us to our unique sense of wellbeing. She encourages us to follow the craving to feel the wind, to sit in the sun even for just a few seconds, to listen to ourselves.
“We all crave connection to nature. The craving, the calling to be back home is with us all. The challenge is silencing ourselves long enough to hear that clearly and rest our hearts on it. It might be in prayer, desperation or joy that we take a deep breath in. That is the source. The source is within.”
Maria affirms, “We all have breath. It’s accessible to any of us at any given moment. It may be when we are sweeping the floor, smiling at a loved one, or claiming a moment alone.” Her practice centers access and self-knowing. She asks, “What about those things you do in your everyday life that somehow feel right and good, where your heart feels at ease? Stick to those, dig through those, discover those. We all are walking through life with an abundance of those connections.”
Let me tell you a story about how plants connect us to each other and to our deepest sense of wellbeing.In a system that prioritizes individualism as productivity, we can lose touch with our intertwined roots. Interdependence underpins all healthy ecosystems. We need each other to feel good. The plants show us that.
It’s a Thursday afternoon and I have a couple calls to make before I go home to confirm staffing for an upcoming wellness fair at Korbel Vineyards. “Hola Juliana, cómo está usted [Hi Juliana, how are you],” I begin.
Juliana joins The Botanical Bus as founder of the Botanical Bus, Presente para Nutrirnos [Present to Nourish Us] program, wellness workshops that center whole, accessible Indigenous foods and traditional recipes for type two diabetes prevention and care.
At a Farmworker Clinic, a client had invited us to the land where her husband tends to harvest Nopales. When I ask if Juliana can participate, she happily agrees, excited to take part in this generous invitation from a Botanical Bus client. Juliana… ¡Presente!
The thick juicy green pads and crimson fruit of Nopal [Prickly Pear Cactus], high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory quercetin, fiber, vitamins and minerals, can help control blood sugar level. I smile because Nopales have guided the work of our organization since our foundation. For Latine and Indigenous people, nourishment is synonymous with Nopal. We trust her. We identify with her. We find strength in our knowledge of her cultural importance and healing properties.
Juliana grew up wild harvesting Nopales outside of a small town in La Mixteca, Oaxaca. She shares, “I would pierce the center of the cactus pads and spear them on two long sticks to carry over 20 at a time home with me to be peeled. We eat Nopales raw, roasted, stewed or with black beans.”
She brings her knowledge of nutrition and powerful testimony of the impact of type two diabetes in her community, to centering Indigenous foods as medicine.
A powerful care plan is set into motion. I close my computer. There are no bounds to the work that is done beyond the limits of colonial individualism. Love for our community just grows and continues to nourish us. We will connect with our client, head out to the land for the harvest and prepare a Nopales salad for the 200 farmworkers and their families at the Korbel wellness fair.
My next call is to Doña Norma, who co-facilitates wellness workshops with Juliana. Norma manages her own diabetes with a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet full of fresh plants. She shares her recipes and lovingly prepared foods at our clinics. “It’s best we harvest the Nopales the day before we serve them at the fair,” she suggests. Norma… ¡Presente!
In accepting our client’s offer of land access, we honor reciprocity in caregiving. In harvesting abundant nutritious plants, we share in the generosity of mother earth. In preparing and sharing cultural foods, we connect community to our common roots. We are mapping our interconnectedness and in the process, building systems of caring for each other that are profoundly effective and fulfilling.
“I know that the farmworkers and their families will feel our love in the Nopales,” concludes Juliana. Thank you, Nopal.
In 2023 we organized 21 clinic events in Santa Rosa, Guerneville and Sonoma Valley at vineyard worksites and family service centers to provide 261 clients with 1,872 direct healthcare services. Botanical Bus Clinic events are scheduled during paid shifts at vineyard worksites and on regular Saturdays at trusted family service center community hubs.
At the Botanical Bus clinics we weave culture into every process as clients are welcomed with music, agua frescas and traditional foods; clinical intake guided by an opening blessing circle; and exit surveys accompanied by a tamale meal. Direct services include massage, acupuncture, somatic therapy, tapping, diabetes prevention and care, physical therapy for repetitive use injury, clinical nutrition and herbalism.
In anonymous exit surveys, 80% of the Botanical Bus clients report attending the clinic with specific intent, and 87% report therapies received were effective.
Attendance & Services
March- November 2023
Clinic Attendance by Client Visit
Total Unduplicated Clients
Number of health services provided
Demographics & Symptoms
All data is collected through clinical intake and exit surveys that take into consideration literacy levels, limitations using technology, and levels of trust accessing care
Age (% of clients)
Preferred Language (% of reporting clients)
Ethnicity (% of reporting clients)
Gender (% of reporting clients)
High Level: Anxiety and/or Depression (% of reporting clients)
At The Botanical Bus Farmworker Clinic: 88% of Latine and Indigenous clients report acute stress in the form of anxiety, depression and fatigue. 36% of this group identify their stress as debilitating. We believe that this mental health crisis needs to be met with culturally relevant care– care that empowers wellbeing though self-healing.
Culturally relevant care honors our abuelita’s knowledge of plant medicine for calming the nerves and easing a cough. It honors the way the earth smells where we were born. It allows us to feel seen, respected and capable of caring for ourselves.
Herbalism and massage therapy are at the heart of Latine and Indigenous healing traditions. At our clinics, we witness the power of these trusted and effective therapies to connect people to a vital sense of self and place.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Agromedicine: of the 20% of Farmworkers who access massage therapy, 85% seek treatment for an acute condition and 100% feel the treatment is very helpful. And of the 65% of Farmworkers who use herbal medicine, 79% seek treatment for an acute condition and over 90% have found them very helpful. (Arcury, Furgurson, O’Hara, Miles, Chen and Laurienti)
“Me siento mucho mejor. Vine estresada y angustiada y me voy mucho mas liviana. I feel much better. I arrived stressed and anxious and I am leaving feeling much lighter”, shares a recent client of The Botanical Bus Farmworker Clinic.
At our clinics, clients are welcomed with music, tamales and herbal agua frescas. Care stations are staffed by bilingual, bicultural practitioners who provide massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, somatic therapy and clinical herbalism. Promotora Community Health Advocates lead wellness workshops on diabetes support, stress relief and immunity- all topics determined by community needs assessment.
Culturally relevant care empowers people to embody their intergenerational knowledge of health and to seek out complimentary and conventional mental health therapies. Our Latine and Indigenous community face disproportionate exposure to toxic stress from social determinants of health including economic security, immigration status, access to health insurance, safe home and work environments. By investing in Promotoras and culturally relevant health care, we take a stand for health equity and send a strong message “Our knowledge and power to care for ourselves and our community is part of who we are and where we come from.”
Thomas A. Arcury, Katherine F. Furgurson, Heather M. O’Hara, Kenya Miles, Haiying Chen & Paul J. Laurienti (2019) Conventional and Complementary Therapy Use among Mexican Farmworkers in North Carolina: Applying the I-CAM-Q, Journal of Agromedicine, 24:3,257-267, DOI: 10.1080/1059924X.2019.1592049
Over warm bowls of Chupe de Pescado (Peruvian fish stew), I sat down with our newest team member and The Botanical Bus’s Clinic Coordinator, Yatziry Galvan, to learn more about what inspired her to serve her community and embark on a new journey of herbalism.
At the sound of rain, Yatziry is transported back to family dinners on the beach in Oaxaca. After a long day of work, her grandparents would take little Yatziry to watch the sun set into the Pacific, rain or shine. Yatziry’s large brown eyes smile as she recalls this memory, one that is filled with such warmth, love and security.
Yatziry lived in a small village near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. Her parents entrusted her to the care of her grandparents so that they could seek out economic opportunities for their family in Napa, California. Each day,Yatziry would help her grandmother at their barbacoa stand, marinating the chivo (goat) meat her grandfather had butchered, and then steaming it all day long. The vapor from the pot would radiate out through holes of the clay top, warming tortillas for the next customer. Yatziry remembers the mouthwatering combination of juicy chivo, soft tortillas, salsa verde and a squeeze of lime. Though they did not have a lot of money, this was a very happy time in Yatziry’s life.
Starting a New Life
When Yatziry was seven years old, her parents brought her to the US to live with them in Napa, California. They were able to place her in a bilingual school, easing her transition, but certainly not eradicating the tremendous culture shock she experienced. The following year, she changed schools. Being one of the only Latine kids at the school, she felt isolated not only culturally, but also linguistically because she did not speak English. Napa then and now, is a town of tremendous economic disparity between the vineyard owners and the farmworkers who tend their vines, and Yatziry’s elementary school was no exception to this socioeconomic chasm. Though both of her parents worked all of the time, they were paid very low wages, and so money was tight. Yatziry remembers having very few clothes, and the ones she did have were ill-fitting.
This feeling of being an outsider in a foreign land continued on until her freshman year of high school when Yatziry slowly began to feel at home in Napa. Yatziry attests that a key person in this transition was her best friend, Marisol. Though Marisol had moved away from Napa when they were in elementary school, Yatziry was thrilled to see Marisol reappear in her freshman art class. Marisol helped Yatziry navigate the challenges of being bicultural, bilingual and low-income in a town that was monocultural, monolingual and expensive. As Yatziry’s confidence and sense of belonging began to build, one thing became very clear to her—if she wanted to break free from the harsh economic realities that her hardworking family faced, she needed to go to college.
A dedicated student, Yatziry was excited to begin the process of applying for college her senior year of high school. She was devastated to find out from her college counselor and teachers that her dream of going to a four-year institution was not possible because she was undocumented. Despite door after door closing on her goal of going to college, she remained resolute to pursue higher education. She then found a new scholarship called TheDream.US inspired by the DREAM Act that would cover the costs of attending college. Yatziry shared that she was the first student to receive this scholarship at Sonoma State University, which inspired her to work at the school’s Dream Center, and as a student ambassador where she helped other undocumented students navigate higher education and helped inform high school students how to apply for and finance higher education.
Yatziry completed her first two years at Napa Valley College and then was able to transfer to Sonoma State, where she graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration with Cum Laude Honors. During her time at Sonoma State, Yatziry was awarded both a national and state fellowship. She continued her work empowering other undocumented students to seek educational opportunities, as well as her younger siblings and cousins. Yatziry smiled as she admitted that she made all of her younger family members take the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) course in high school, which helps prepare students for college and their careers. Reflecting on her youth, Yatziry shared,
“The struggles that my family and I faced, both economically and because of the language barrier really motivated me to help others in my community that might be facing some of the same challenges. My hope is to be that helping hand that I needed growing up.”
Yatziry’s Herbalism Journey
When asked about what lead her towards herbalism, Yatziry shared that she recently embarked on this journey this year when she decided to prioritize her mental health. She realized that after a lifetime of trauma, struggle and challenging familial dynamics, it was time to prioritize her own wellbeing, and so she booked her first trip to Maui. There she participated in a profoundly healing retreat based around meditation in nature that shifted her attention towards herbalism. Slowly, memories of herbal remedies that her grandmother utilized when she was a child began to come back. Yatziry shared,
“I think that herbal medicine has come into my life to reconnect with myself, with my roots, my ancestors, madretierra (mother earth) and to my community as well. Being a part of The Botanical Bus has brought me deep healing and it is so incredibly rewarding to be able to help create a bilingual, bicultural space where our community can come together to nurture each other.”
Recalling her birth story, Yatziry said that she owes her life to herbalism. Her mother had gone into labor when she was only seven months pregnant, and they lived over three hours away from the nearest hospital. While experiencing contractions, her mother hobbled onto the bus for the long ride to Jamiltepec, Oaxaca. When she arrived, all of the beds were full, and so she had to wait on the floor until a bed opened up for her delivery. Yatziry was moved to an incubator, but there was nowhere for her mother to stay so she continued to sleep on the floor after having just given birth. Eventually, her mother needed to return home to heal herself as well, so they took Yatziry home, tiny and weak. Yatziry’s grandmother told her that they used herbal remedios y recetas (remedies and recipes) to nurse Yatziry to health. Yatziry never learned the exact contents of those herbal remedies, and so her new goal is to spend more time with her grandmother, and write down her remedios y recetas. Thankfully, Yatziry’s grandmother was able to move to the US a few years ago, and so Yatziry tries to see her every week.
As The Botanical Bus’s Clinic Coordinator, Yatziry works directly with our Promotoras (Community Health Advocates) to facilitate Farmworkers Clinics and Wellness Workshops, as well as participate in our Promotora Training Program. She has been able to develop friendships with the Promotoras, who have been seminal in her herbalism education. At a recent Wellness Workshop Yatziry co-facilitated with Promotora, Lulu Pérez, she found herself drawn to Salvia (Sage). As Lulu and her discussed the healing properties of this plant, a hummingbird buzzed by, dipping its perfectly designed beak into the Sage flower and relishing in its sweet nectar. Yatziry paused mid-sentence to marvel at not only the beauty of this Joyavoladora (hummingbird or translated literally “flying jewel”), but the significance of seeing this tiny creature with an enormous heart at this particular moment: her grandmother adores hummingbirds.