Summer T-shirt & Sweatshirt Fundraiser!

Posted July 7th, 2023 by Larken Bunce

Monarch, Milkweed & Pine: Celebrating Transformation

We’re delighted to present our summer 2023 fundraiser, conceived by Miranda Resnick, of Understory Herbalism, artist, VCIH clinical graduate, and now also a beloved staff member. Miranda generously donated her artwork, pictured left, to be hand screen-printed on a range of US-made t-shirts and sweatshirts, available in various materials and colors. We think they turned out beautifully and can’t wait to share them with you!

This is a pre-order sale, meaning you’ll choose your shirt and we’ll order it and print it just for you. We have to print in one big batch, though, so the order window is short! All pre-orders must be placed by July 24th. Once they’re printed, we’ll ship shirts to you (or locals can pick up) in mid to late August.

Click here to see all of the shirts and pre-order!

What Does the Fundraiser Support?

As a small non-profit without grant funding, we count on our own fundraising efforts to subsidize the herbal care and education that we provide to clients and students all over Turtle Island (aka North America). We serve 60-70 students each year and had just under 1,000 active clients in the past 18 months. All of our clients receive herbs and consultations at half of retail price (or less, when paying along our sliding scale). In 2022 alone, we provided approximately $115,000 worth of care and herbs, while taking in just $70,000 in clinic and apothecary fees. Similarly, our students benefit from tuition rates which fall below the national per-hour average for comparable herbal education and we offer further tuition reduction to BIPOC and low-income students, totaling $17,000+ in 2022.

2023 is our 15th year in operation and we’ve got no plans to stop! We’ll continue to work towards a more just distribution of herbal care and knowledge, especially to folks who are often excluded from accessing these invaluable resources. But, we can’t do this work alone. Our budget is as slim as ever and our wish list is always growing. And that’s where you—beloved community—come in!

Why Monarch, Milkweed and Pine?

Miranda was inspired to create the monarch image to honor this time of change in our organization and our world and the role we can play as herbalists and earth-lovers. Here’s her lovely story:

After watching a monarch hatch from a chrysalis beneath VCIH’s teaching tent last summer — slowly unfurling her crumpled little wings, eventually taking flight into the pines nearby — I began to think of the monarch as a beautiful metaphor for the growth of each student, our organization, and the herbal community as a whole. 

Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies leave their summer breeding grounds in the Northeastern US and Canada. These individual butterflies will make the entire 3000-plus mile journey to their overwintering grounds in Southwestern Mexico, where tens of thousands will cluster together on one single oyamel fir tree for warmth. Come spring, these butterflies will begin their journey north… but they won’t make it all the way.

Somewhere in the southern United States, the returning butterflies stop to mate and lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Brilliantly striped caterpillars hatch a few days later, feeding on vast amounts of milkweed before wrapping themselves in a brilliant green chrysalis. Within that chrysalis, the whole organisms transforms, dissolving into cellular soup. Ten to fourteen days later, the fiery, majestic monarch butterfly will emerge. 

Only then does the next generation set off again, completing another leg of the journey before it’s their turn to mate, lay their eggs, and die. It will take 3-4 generations of butterflies repeating this process to make the whole journey north, finally returning in summer to their northeastern territory.

There is no scientific explanation of how each new generation of monarchs knows where they are heading, yet they continue to build on what their ancestors accomplished, each single butterfly following some unknown, unseen pattern, playing their role in the survival of their species. 

If you’ve gone through the VCIH program, or love someone who has, you know the kind of metamorphosis it requires. Magical, challenging, and deeply transformative, this is the kind of growth that can only occur within a sturdy and supportive container. And in the past few years, VCIH itself has undergone a similar metamorphosis, transforming its familiar structure while continuing to live into a deep commitment to social and environmental justice. Each year, we continue to watch new generations of herbalists alight into the world, taking their knowledge, skills, compassion and vision forward with them. 

Just like the monarchs, our work as herbalists and humans is to trust that we are part of a much larger scheme. That we are one generation building on the love, wisdom, and mistakes of the past, holding our part in the transformation, so those to come can keep moving forward on the journey toward something ever more beautiful and true.


We’re so grateful to Miranda for capturing the spirit of these times at VCIH and in our communities at large. We imagine that many of you will resonate with the mystery and challenges of metamorphosis, the sometimes surprising gifts of transformation and, ultimately, how crucial it is to rely on each other as we make our way towards the future.

We hope you’ll purchase a shirt or two—give them as gifts, get one in every color and style! Tell your friends by sharing this newsletter or just send a link to the shirt you love best. Remember, all orders due by July 24th!

Click here to place your order!