Our Vision: A Local Medicine Movement

The Sustainable Herbs Project Vision for a Local Medicine Movement

Here’s our vision:

Households, urban and rural, with pots of medicinal herbs: Thyme, Sage, and Rosemary on their back porch. Echinacea and Garlic grow in their garden. Grown ups and children know where and when to gather St. John’s Wort and Stinging Nettles. They know how to dry them for tea, prepare an oil or salve, and when to use each.

Herbalists and farmers offer classes in their community; share medicinal plants and resources. These become skills everyone learns to keep themselves and their family well, as important to the sustainability and viability of their communities as growing their own food and producing their own energy, as important to the education of our children as learning to read and do math.

Medicinal plants grow in empty lots in town, in community gardens, in meadows and fields and forests outside of town. Much of the herbal medicine dispensed in the community comes from these plants.

Scattered throughout the community are community herbalists to whom people can turn for more serious conditions and who know when to send them to the hospital.

The hospitals are green, in every sense of the term: surrounded by gardens growing food that supplies the cafeterias and peaceful pathways where those who are ill can walk or sit. The medicines dispensed and the products used aren’t toxic: for the patients, for those using and producing them, and for the earth. And, most importantly, administrators, doctors, nurses – all the staff of the hospital – make decisions based on the realization that human and environmental health are inextricably connected: that what we do to the earth we do to ourselves, and that we can’t be well until the planet is well.

I could keep adding to this vision… making it sounds more and more fanciful and far-fetched.

The thing is, it isn’t that far-fetched, at least not where we live in central Vermont. Steps are being made in each of these directions, steps that, individually feel small and easily overwhelmed, but together show that we are making progress toward the transformations needed.

I believe that sharing this information is a crucial step in building on this momentum. And that’s why this website was born.

Read the interviews with individuals doing what they can in their community, no matter how big or small. Let us know what you are doing in yours and how, together, we can turn these small steps into a local medicine movement that is as widespread and powerful as the local food movement.

 

16 Comments

  • Reply March 14, 2014

    Woodland Herbals

    A beautiful vision indeed!

    • Reply March 14, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      Thanks so much for your comment. Something worth working toward, no?

  • Reply March 14, 2014

    Stephany

    You have something special there in Vermont, that’s for certain. It will take years for this to be a reality in many places. But such a beautiful vision. Thanks for this.

    • Reply March 14, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      Yes, I know we do have something special here… Thanks, Stephany, for your comment and your own good work to spread this vision!!

  • Reply March 16, 2014

    Amanda

    What a beautiful vision! I hope each of us out there can strive to bring it a little bit closer to reality each day. Living near Boulder, CO we see a lot of community gardens and hospitals are at least using bio-degradable eating utensils. There are still leaps and bounds but any progress is better than none. Let us at Natural Herbal Living know if there is any way we can help!

    • Reply March 16, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      Amanda, Thank you! I would love to talk with you about ideas about what to do. I’ll send you a direct message. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Best,
      Ann

  • Reply March 26, 2014

    jim mcdonald

    this makes me think of (one of) my favorite ever Wendell Berry poem(s):

    Vision

    If we will have the wisdom to survive,
    to stand like slow growing trees
    on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
    then a long time after we are dead
    the lives our lives prepare will live
    here, their houses strongly placed
    upon the valley sides…
    The river will run
    clear, as we will never know it…
    On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
    the old forest, an old forest will stand,
    its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
    The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
    Families will be singing in the fields…
    Memory,
    native to this valley, will spread over it
    like a grove, and memory will grow
    into legend, legend into song, song
    into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
    the songs of its people and its birds,
    will be health and wisdom and indwelling
    light. This is no paradisal dream.
    Its hardship is its reality.

    • Reply March 26, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      Jim,
      What a beautiful poem – I’ve never seen it before. I’ve felt so discouraged lately, with the news and how little, really, seems to be changing no matter what so many people are doing. And so I appreciate even more this reminder of the long view and that what we all do now does matter… and also for a poem of Wendell Berry’s I didn’t yet know – that in itself such a gift.
      Thank you, Jim.

    • Reply March 27, 2014

      Stephany

      I saw the poem before I saw who posted it. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it was you , Jim.

  • Reply March 26, 2014

    Clara

    Not fanciful at all…and although Melbourne isn’t quite as far along as I imagine Vermont to be, there is plenty of infrastructure and enthusiasm waiting to be kindled. It’s initiatives like your Numen that are sending out the sparks. I love your work Ann and am so grateful for it!

    • Reply March 26, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      Clara, Thank you so much! It seems that lots is happening in Melbourne, and we’re always surprised by the number of orders for Numen that come from Australia… glad that what we are doing helps… And than you for letting me know!

  • Reply May 14, 2014

    sharon

    I love this idea! To be community, to share our gardens, woodlands and herbal preparations, to heal and ease the woes of our friends and family…awesomeness! It’s what a Woodwife is all about!

  • Reply May 14, 2014

    Ann Armbrecht

    Yes, Sharon, I know! And there are glimpses of this, amidst all the busyness and the un-careful ways we as a society are living… would be so wonderful for it to become more widespread…

  • Reply November 24, 2014

    Norma Fernandez

    Hi! I live in Princeton, WV. I have a similar vision that I am trying to make a reality in my community. I was wondering whether there are any resources or support for getting a movement like this started.

    I see a great amount of potential in my area, but getting others on board is quite challenging.

    There is a community garden where I live and I asked the owner if I could help incorporate some medicinal herbs in it next season. I was given the go-ahead and there seems to be support there, but I’d really like to pull others in my community into a conversation about medicinal plants. That’s why I created my blog (appalachianplantmagic.blogspot.com) – to try making the topic accessible to my community, and to get a feel for what people might want natural remedies for.

    Do you have any ideas what other steps I might take to get others involved making your vision a reality?

    • Reply November 25, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      Thanks, Norma. I’m from WV : ) though now I live in Vermont. Have you tried contacting other WV herbalists? The WV herb association? I’m not sure where Princeton, WV is – but I do know there is what seems like a strong network of herbalists in the central/eastern part of the state. Also, you could organize a screening of Numen – I’m not saying that to sell our film, but it can be a good way to present the issue to others and then have a conversation about what people who were interested enough to come to a film on plant medicine might do to bring some of these ideas into the community. The home screening license isn’t that much more than the film. We’ve listed some other ideas and discussion questions to ask under the community based medicine section of the main site for the film: http://www.numenfilm.com Hope this helps some! Good luck!!!

  • Reply July 30, 2015

    Victoria

    Hi Clara,
    I just discovered you! I thought you might be happy to hear that our garden is, for almost 9 years now (since we got married and moved in here), totally chemical free!!! We first focused on veggies, now my husband planted fruit trees, and I started ( a few years back) my medical and culinary herb garden!!!! Keeping the trees healthy and pest-free without the use of chemicals proved to be the hardest.
    I was born and raised in Germany, which has a very large “green” following, and my family always used natural remedies. So when I married my “all American” husband, we had several disagreements about how to deal with so called pests and weeds!
    Now!!! He might still not eat my Dandylion, but at least, No more chemicals!!! AND!!!! I finally got him to agree to build a bee sanctuary, and a couple of bat houses to keep the chickens and rabbits company!!!
    Let’s keep this beautiful planet healthy, and it will keep us healthy( and )!!!!

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