Our Instructors

We’ve brought together several experts in the fields of nutrition, herbs, cooking, and gardening to make sure you have a comprehensive, well-rounded experience.

Joan Palmer

Joan Palmer

Joan Palmer, Founder and Director of The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition

Joan Palmer is the Founder and Director of The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition and owner of Real Food Matters, LLC. Joan has a MS in Human Nutrition, a BS in Education and received her certification as a Family/Community Herbalist. She has been planting the seeds of real food matters for decades through educational programs presented to schools, businesses, organizations, families and individuals. Joan presents the Art and Science of Eating as part of an accredited Masters Degree program in Ct. She has been growing and using herbs and kitchen medicine since the 90s. She raises plants, chickens, bees and boys in the beautiful hills of West Granby, CT




Alison Birks, MS, AHG, CNS

Alison Birks

One of Connecticut’s most highly recognized Nutritionists and experts in the field of Herbal Medicine, Alison’s breadth of knowledge has ushered in her success as a holistic health counselor, nutritionist, and clinical herbalist for more than thirteen years. Alison received a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and has five certifications in Herbal Medicine including Chinese Herbology and Aromatherapy & Western Clinical Herbalism. Alison is an esteemed member of The American Herbalists Guild, one of the most prestigious organizations in her field.


Nigel Palmer

Nigel Palmer,

Nigel Palmer, BS, MS Outside Consultant

Nigel has a BS & MS in Engineering with concentrations in modern physics. He has been an aerospace engineer for 30 years sorting, organizing and resolving complex technical issues, and 35 years as an organic New England gardener.

Nigel is a Bionutrient Food and Soil Consultant practicing sustainable, regenerative mineralization programs. He develops plant and soil improvement products by fermenting local plants, extracting minerals, and capturing then cultivating indigenous microorganisms. He uses the refractive index of plant saps and crops as a way of monitoring long and short term plant health trends and the efficacy of the products developed.

Nigel is the Outside Consultant for TIOSN. He teaches sustainable regenerative gardening techniques, the keeping of bees, and discusses monthly, the night sky and many subtle nuances of the world out of doors.

Nigel enjoys climbing and skiing mountains, paddling with bears, and watching the garlic grow.