Recently I attended an herbal conference I hadn’t been to but have heard a lot about. This particular event was geared more towards an urban setting. As a non-city girl, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was there to take classes as well as teach. I learned a great deal.
While walking from the parking lot to the venue I spotted old friends such as chickweed and dandelion, and was surprised at the large amount of wild oats making a home there. I am what another friend calls an extroverted introvert. When I have something to talk about, I can talk your ear off, and when I don’t, I am silent. I bring this up because I spent time asking people where they travelled from , what they do, and how they got there. The majority of people were from various urban areas around Boston. They wanted to learn more about plant medicine and so they came. Vendors surprised me a lot. Why? Plant and herb growers arrived from just north or northwest of Boston. Many had 150 acres or less, but produced beautiful herbs and products. What surprised me was that I have never heard of these farms. These are dedicated people spending a lot of time, sweat, and love to grow plants that will offer healing and comfort to others, and yet they are often unsung heroes.
I thought a lot about why I felt so surprised by this event. It was very eye opening. Here’s the thing, just as there are food deserts in cities, there are herbal medicine knowledge deserts too. Why wouldn’t urban folks want and need what plants offer? Living in suburbia, despite my best attempts to pay attention to what people do and don’t have, I missed this knowledge. I didn’t see this need.
I will be attending another conference very soon. This one has a more international flavor. The one thing that this conference and the urban one have in common is plants. Plants bring people of all races, genders, and beliefs together to share knowledge, open eyes, and create healing. It is never comfortable to be shown that I have been unable to see clearly, but the plants brought people my way to help me learn. Plants create community.