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The Bilingual Flower-Powered Bus

Reflections from volunteering with Sonoma County’s bilingual mobile herb clinic

On a beautiful Saturday morning in October, I had the pleasure of working with a diverse community of integrative healing practitioners. The practitioners included promotoras (for those not familiar, promotoras are traditional community health workers in Latin American communities), an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, herbal apprentices, spanish-english translators, and myself, a clinical herbalist. We had come together under the hard work of The Botanical Bus, to serve the Latine and Indigenous community at La Luz Center in Sonoma, California.

The Botanical Bus is a bilingual mobile herb clinic. The pop-up events are hosted by family service centers, community clinics and, sometimes by vineyards for the wellbeing of their workers- in various parts of Sonoma County. Last summer I got to work with the organization (through a partnership with SFUSD) and see a bit of the inner-workings of the inspirational program. This was my first time returning as a practitioner in over a year.

I am ever inspired by the organization. Operating primarily in Spanish, and translating where needed to English, the clinic events truly center the needs of the clients. Each clinic is divided into three sections, where clients rotate through two workshops on topics, such as self care, nutrition or breath work and then are paired with a practitioner for one-on-one consultations. Throughout the clinic, which lasts a couple hours, there are gentle bells that ring to remind us all of when to transition from one session to the next.

Additionally, the clinic starts and ends with circles led by clinic elders, with prayers and introductions primarily in Spanish.

The clinic is a powerful space. While I don’t know what it’s like to be on the other end of the consultation, I do know that the time I’ve spent listening to people tell their stories at Botanical Bus clinics have been unique honors to witness. The growth, pain, questions, curiosity and joy each person brings to their healing journey is humbling and inspirational.

In a recent interview with Jocelyn, the founder and executive director of the Botanical Bus, she stressed the importance of how the organization thrives because it is BY and FOR the Latine community in Sonoma. I could not say this any better. As a person with white skin privilege, It is a huge honor to be welcomed into this space, led by Latine women with traditional knowledge.

Jocelyn reminded me that “herbalism is a mental health service.” By this she means that herbalism offers effective solutions to reduce stress, overwhelm or anxiety. Herbs can help back off the intensity of many health condition or crisis. She reminded me that in the Bay Area we live in places that have a plethora of health organizations and services, even many offerings for low income people, and yet “herbalism is often what is missing.” This is what made way for the Botanical Bus to take off and find a community of over 1000 clients since its inception.

At the end of the event, the whole community sits down for a lunch of tamales. (OK, this might by my favorite part :) All of us; clients, practitioners, clinic organizers, translators. Every participant leaves with a fully belly, tools for healing, herbs and the experience of being connected to an accessible holistic healing community.

This feeling, and experience deeply inspires me every time. This is health equity in action.


If you know of organizations in SF that are open to partnerships of free or low cost herbal services, please reach out. I am curious about how to get more community organizations off the ground to support people with accessible, herbal medicine.

Are you curious about how local herbalism can support you leading a more embodied and authentic life? I invite you to join my newsletter with weekly tips for holistic wellbeing, event announcements and more. 🐋


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