Summer Southern Oregon Trip: Part Two

Continued from Part One…

We toured the farms of Herb Pharm, a very forward thinking medicine company and received an incredible opportunity to experience the behind-the-scenes-generation of tinctures and all the checks and balances associated with good manufacturing practices for a company with such a wide distribution. We drove past Herbal Ed’s mansion and swimming pool, “the house that echinacea built,” and learned that Herbal Ed always had a vision to create a multi-million dollar herb company. Dr. Yew told us to “dream big, for you never know who will be the next Herbal Ed. It could very well be you!”

Dagmar, a brilliant chemical engineer with a beautiful and thick German accent, started us off Tuesday afternoon with information on manufacturing tinctures on such a large scale, and all of the ways that Herb Pharm takes care to maintain the integrity of their organic ingredients. We toured the drying rooms and fields, where we were able to hand pick Calendula with the interns and hear Dr. Nagel recount his time there in the 1980s as one of Herbal Ed’s first apprentices. Truly, we were on a tour of Dr. Yew’s old stomping grounds visiting his friends from before his time at NCNM and since.

A huge highlight for most of us was a day or two later on our tour of Seven Seeds Farm owned by the charismatic and passionate Don Tipping. He led us on a energetic, excited tour of his permacultured property that surely smacked of Eden and held a special mystery and future-oriented vision of what agriculture. As he explained, a berry that has 10 times more antioxidants than blue berries, “the next Acai berry, for sure,” a herd of sheep cantered by us and his dogs begged to be petted by those of us hanging onto his every word. Truly Don Tipping and his land changed my life. We swam in his pond and learned about his irrigation practices. When he took us inside after dark, we drank in the essence of his greenhouse built with reclaimed materials and the lodge where they harvest and process seeds. Since their main produce is seeds, along with CSAs, they feel they have a responsibility to future generations to hold and host seeds that have long been heirloomed or reclaimed. I think each of us were tempted to quit school, leave “Good Medicine,” and knock on Don’s door begging to learn from his seeming unending well of wisdom on the future of farming and how permaculture techniques can help heal the planet.

Mark Weiler of Pacific Botanicals proved to be just as endearing to us, but in a quieter, gentler way. He kindly ushered us along many of his 150 acres and told us to “take whatever you like” from his gorgeous fields hosting Echinacea, red clover, wood betony, thistles (“Mark, they’re paying you to grow weeds?” laughed Dr. Yew), ashwaganda, and so many more. His calm and sweet presence trickled over us on our last big tour, and we drank in his wisdom and the hard work of decades dedicated to growing medicines for the planet.

Kevin returned to us to close out all the amazing experiences from farm to outdoor classroom and helped us deliver our presentations under the gazebo in Herbal Ed’s herb garden. From Herbal Mad Libs, elegant poetry, Dr. Stanisbury’s Cedar Tree song to a plant spirit meditation, we communed together to close out a cleansing, healing, and ultimately transformational class. None of us wanted to leave Williams and the magic we found there. Luckily, we take with us the teachings of the botanicals, planted deep within our hearts and our spirits. With an overflowing and grateful heart, I encourage each of you to take an elective that takes you outside the buildings of NCNM and into nature’s truest classroom to experience why you are here and what this medicine means to you. I for one am so excited to return to school, renewed and ready to embrace another year of knowledge, with a widened and wondered sense of appreciation for the wisdom we have at our fingertips always just a breath, a word, or a road trip away. Aho!

by Mary Browne, NUNM naturopathic medicine student