herbal apprenticeship programme


Phytofarm herbal learning garden is a 20 acre property in the beautiful Okuti Valley, in Little River on Banks Peninsula. The property has been developed over the last ten years by herbalist and naturopath Valmai Becker as a repository of plants and learning centre. The gardens, manufacturing and drying sheds have been purpose built to provide a practical learning experience in herbal medicine. Valmai has forty years of experience, both as an educator and clinician and has inspired many to embrace the healing properties of plants in their daily lives as medicine and as a source of well being. 

The apprenticeship programme offers a thorough instruction in the growing, harvesting, processing and manufacture of a wide range of herbal products. Students in the programme are encouraged to develop and explore personal areas of special interest and build confidence with medicinal plants that easily grow. The four seasons are celebrated with the students discovering culinary herbal delights of the spring garden, to exploring the abundance of the summer garden and blending quality products from the drying room during the autumn and winter seasons.

The apprenticeship is intended to develop in the student a passion for herbal medicine, exploring our relationship with plants in this exciting area of health and well being. 

Hands-on learning

The apprenticeship is open to anyone who has an interest and passion for learning about medicinal plants. This is a practical learning experience and will include out door activities in the garden and time managing plant material in the drying room. There will be 168 hours of instruction, 24 days, with 6 days for each season and 80 hours of home study, 20 hours to be completed at the end of each season. On successful completion of the apprenticeship the participants will be awarded a Phytofarm Certificate in Herbal Apprenticeship.


Valmai Becker has had many years of experience in graduating students into the healing profession, gardening projects, and has been successful in the management of four businesses that reflect her enthusiasm and love all things natural.

Feedback from students

”With an interest in herbs and herbal medicine a year on your Apprenticeship Programme turned that into a passion and possibly even taking me in a new direction in life!“

”Loved the hands-on learning in a small group.“

”Enjoyed realizing the amazing value of the plants we have around us.“

Apprenticeship Dates 2024/2025

Dates below:

8-11 November 2024; 31 January-3 February 2025; 21-24 March 2025; 23-26 May 2025

Attendance: 4 Weekends, each season – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Hour: 10am – 4pm
Total Attendance Hours: 96

Home Work Hours each season: 40
Total Hours: 136

Download the Apprenticeship Prospectus 2024/25 here.
Download the Apprenticeship Application 2024/25 here.