Afro-Botany:  The interdisciplinary study and forthcoming implementation of traditional botanical strategies used by Africans and their descendants throughout the African Diaspora. Afro-botany includes ethnomedicine, history, environmental science, spirituality, trauma recovery, educational repatriation and health policy decolonization.


Mission:  To provide a safe, academic yet traditional community space to explore, experience and document the botanical and wellness knowledge of the African Diaspora, and to create relationships which empower us to contribute to the survival of Afro-botany and Traditional African Medicine.

The First Annual Afro-Botany Conference

From September 2nd to 4th, 2017,  Hidden Garden Ethnobotanical Sanctuary inaugurated its new Bush Medicine Circle with the First Annual Afro-Botany Conference. In a traditional style, we celebrated with a gathering of elders, teachers, students, plant lovers and community members, sharing wisdom as well as food, music, dance and ceremony. Here are a few highlights!

Participants:  A total of 40 people participated in the Afro-Botany Conference, with a range of 15 to 30 people per individual activity. Ten of the forty were teachers, 7 were volunteers / staff of Hidden Garden, 3 volunteers from Rich Coast Project, 7 paying participants and 13 members of the community who participated for free. The costs for community member participation were covered by Hidden Garden and other event sponsors.

Schedule 2017:

September 2
10:30 – 12 pm Keynote Speaker Yeye Luisah Teish *
12 – 2 pm Storytelling Luncheon
2 – 3:30 Plant Walk with Wilfred Cornwall
3:30 – 5 pm Keynote Speaker Angelique Moss-Greer
5:30 – 6:30 pm African Dance Class
7 – 9 pm Dinner & Live Music
September 3
7 am – 11 am Jungle Tour & Breakfast in the Bush with Victor Umaña
2 – 3:30 pm Keynote Speaker Rafael Ocampo *
3:30 – 5 pm Healing Wisdom Over Time with Siany Palmer and Miss Sam *
7 – 10 pm Live Music & Dancing in Town
September 4
8 am – 11:30 am Cahuita National Park Beach Tour with Wilfred Cornwall
1 pm – 2:30 pm Afro-Costa Rican Health Agenda with Arthur Samuels
2:30 – 4 pm Integrating Traditional Medicine with Dr. Pablo Ortiz
4 – 5 pm Garden Tour with Rafael Ocampo


* Audio Recordings Available Through Rich Coast Project


Wilfred Cornwall is a local Afro-Costa Rican herbalist, who serves his community and its visitors in…

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Yeye Luisah Teish is an initiated edler (Iyanifa) in the Ifa/Orisha tradition of the West African…

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Angelique “Sobande” Moss-Greer received her herbal traditions first from her great-grandmother, who was born into slavery…

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Rafael Ocampo is one of Central America’s leading ethnobotanists. He has written numerous books over the…

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Dr. Pablo Ortiz is a pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine. He started Costa Rica’s…

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Victor Umaña grew up with the stories and home remedies of his grandparents and village elders…

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Arthur Samuels is a leader in the Afro-Costa Rican community and an advocate for the rights…

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Hazel “Miss Sam” Miller was the primary midwife and herbalist of Puerto Viejo and the surrounding…

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Register for 2018


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Costs Early Bird After June 5th
Complete Package w/ Shared Lodging $1050 $1150
Complete Package w/o Lodging $800 $950
Conference w/o Excursions $550 $650
One Day Conference w/o Excursions $100 $120
Indigenous Reserve  7 am – 4 pm $80 $90
Breakfast in the Bush  7 am – 11 am $50 $60
Cahuita Park Tour  7 am – 11 am $50 $60
Limon Parade   11 am – 4 pm $30 $40
Night Walk   4 pm – 7 pm $40 $50
Night Walk w/ Sleep Over  4 pm – 7 am $80 $90

Support Our Work!

This event is made possible by contributions from the community.

Our Unique Approach

The work team of the Afro-Botany Conference has created a format in which academic, technical and policy presentations take place concurrently with traditional and Afro-centric models. These include elder hierarchy, creating community, respectful relationships, meal sharing, song, dance, honoring elements of nature and story-telling.


Instead of the conventional strategy of one-way knowledge harvesting, our model includes returning information to its rightful owners or their kin. This is achieved through inviting community members to activities, posting information digitally, offering free online classes, and encouraging ethnobotanists to turn over copies of interviews with Afro-Costa Rican elders if they contained ancestral wisdom.


In addition, the conference serves as a space for policy creators to educate themselves and each other, with the goal of sensitizing the health and education systems with respect to traditional Afro-based wellness strategies. The team invited a number of community members representing politics, health care, law, traditional medicine and advocacy. The Conference budget covers the costs of participation for these community representatives, as well as any family members that they choose to bring.


  1. The Bush Medicine Circle will be open year round at Hidden Garden. Visitors will learn about Afro-Botany through our new numbering system, accompanied by an online database, choosing either a self-guided tour or with one of our local herbalists. We will continue to offer onsite learning experiences to students, academics and community members.


  1. Hidden Garden and the Natural Choices Botanica School are hosting a virtual Afro-Botany Research Seminar. We hold free, weekly Afro-Botany Research Seminars to provide a safe, academic environment for personal exploration, relationship building and advancement of our brand new field. Current topics of study include Pan-Diasporic Health Terminology, Sickle Cell Anemia, International Public Health Models and African Plant Spirit Medicine.


  1. Hidden Garden will continue to organize the Wellness Traditions Alliance, a community initiative started with Rich Coast Project in 2015. The Afro-Botany Conference provides a networking opportunity for the policy makers, academics and allopathic doctors who are pioneering the field of hybridized and culturally-sensitive health practices.


  1. The Afro-Botany Conference will be held annually at Hidden Garden, at the end of August, to accompany Afro-Costa Rican Day, which is always the 31st. It is our goal to contribute the honoring of the botany and wellness strategies of African descendants in addition to other cultural pillars such as music, dance, fashion and food.

Meet Our Supporting Organizations…