“We’re not just here to go shopping.” Sebastian Pole
We had such a rich, informative visit to organic farms, fair for life projects, and primary processing facilities in Karnataka State, India with Ben Heron and Sebastian Pole of Pukka Herbs. I can’t do justice to everything we experienced here, except to say I left deeply impressed by the depth of commitment required to source medicinal plants responsibly – to do, as Sebastian said, more than go shopping. Years of time and money, hours of driving along bumpy roads, walking fields, trouble shooting, problem solving and so much more is involved. By traveling with Ben and Sebastian, we were able to see firsthand the ways this time pays off in the quality of the fields we visited and the depth of trust we witnessed.
Transparency in the Herb Industry
Ben and Sebastian don’t pretend that they or Pukka have all the answers. Nothing is so simple. But to me their willingness to let us tag along, cameras in tow, listening in as they talked about buffer zones and crop rotation with farmers was as inspiring as everything else we saw. Companies like Pukka Herbs and Traditional Medicinals (I know naming companies gets dicey. Though there are others, I include Traditional Medicinals because Josef Brinckmann has been an incredible source of contacts, information, and advice on this project from the outset) are working hard to bring more transparency to an industry known for its secrecy. This in turn lets us all know more about where our herbs come from so we too can do more than just shop when we buy herbs. We can support values that do – they really do – make a difference on the ground.
Ongoing Herbal Education
The other best way to do more than shop is to educate ourselves to both grow and prepare our own remedies. And so I want to highlight a free webinar this Wed. night. Rosalee de la Forêt and John Gallagher will be talking about herbal remedies for cold care this Wed. night. Rosalee is a fantastic teacher and offers clear, concise information based on both the chemistry and the energetics of plants. Take a moment to check it out!
SHP Next Steps
Now that we’re finished most of the traveling (we might try to include another trip or two in the US), I’m glad to finally be settling down to the logging and editing portion of the project. I’ll be editing short video clips, 2-5 minutes or so, to include on the multi-media website (i.e. interactive documentary) that is being developed by a student team at the Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab at Dartmouth College. I have lots more footage than will ultimately make it onto the site and so I’ll also explore other venues for sharing this and making it accessible to as many people as possible. I’ll continue to post up dates on our progress here.