On place-based medicine and creating a sustainable herbshed

Marrubium Vulgare aka White Horehound

Marrubium Vulgare aka White Horehound

As we rediscover our relationship with plants –and what more intimate pathway than through the gateway of healing– it ignites a love, a passion for the green nations, and enables us to become caretakers of that which we love most…
-Rosemary Gladstar

Herbs have become increasingly 'trendy' of late, and with good reason: they work. Or rather, with the right knowledge and application of plants that are fresh enough to still be effective, they can effect profound changes in health.  However one side effect of the increasing popularity and demand for herbs has been the decline in quality in the bulk herbs marketplace-- herbs stay circulating in commerce for years and years while their peak best-by date passes unheeded.  Leaves and flowers are best used within 6 months to one year after harvesting and drying, while roots can stay potent from a year up to three years.  How can you tell if the herbs you receive are not longer at their prime, and therefore much weaker medicine?  Their colors will have faded --a bright orange will be replaced by a pale yellow for calendula, or an emerald green will have become a rusted brown for nettles.  Their smell will be a bit dull, as any essential oils will have long since evaporated.  Their flavor will be a bit musty, and your regularly vibrant tea infusion will have less color, and less flavor.

This problem that the herbal community is facing has a clear solution:  source herbs as close as possible to where you live, fresh in season, direct from local farmers who are organically growing medicinal herbs to meet the increasing demand.  Just as in wine manufacture there is the essence of the grape that comes from the soil they are grown on, called 'Terroir', so it is thought that herbs grown in your local bioregion have a certain something special to them --and can effect greater improvements in health because they have persevered in the same climate and environment in which you yourself are endeavoring to thrive. When we buy local herbs we are supporting our farmers in the same way as buying local food, and contribute even further to cutting down the carbon emissions caused by transporting a pound of chamomile from Egypt that you could have gotten fresh and vibrant from upstate NY! Local herbs are strong, fresh herbs that make strong, powerful medicine and we are proud and excited to be helping connect more local people to more local plants, creating a sustainable 'herbshed' from which we can all draw and grow healthier together. 

Aviva Skye