Sustainable Herbs Project Blog

Arctium lappa

Starting a Neighborhood Herb Study Group

What Herb Company to Buy From? Three Reasons Why That's the Wrong Question.

What Herb Company Do You Recommend?

I’m often asked what herb company people should buy from. I’ve been visiting herb companies for the past few years, so it’s a logical question to ask. But I find this question increasingly bothers me. I decided to tease out some of the reasons why. I came up with three.

Reflections standing in the moonlight.

The Moonlight and Meeting the Day

Of all the many things we do and do not do each day, what are the things that might add up to something that matters? Given the turmoil in the world right now, given the demands calling from every direction for our attention, how do any of us know, really, what we can do that might make the difference that is needed?

Unilever buys Pukka Herbs

Unilever Buys Pukka - What Can We Learn?

Is Pukka Herbs Selling Out? What lessons can we all learn about impact, scale, and sustainability in Unilever's recent purchase of Pukka Herbs?

Stories from India

A brief overview of my multi-sited ethnographic research project on the medicinal plant supply chain in India as a 2017 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar.

Domestic Herbs – Survey Results

As Ann mentioned in her recent blog post, Where Are the Domestic Herbs?, 2 surveys were created to better understand the domestic herb market and the key issues involved from the perspectives of both growers and buyers. Thirty-one growers/farmers and 35 herbalists/practitioners responded…not a huge response, but enough to recognize seve...

Domestic Herbs – Where Are They?

Where are the Domestic Herbs? As part of the Sustainable Herbs Project, we are working to understand the supply chain of domestic herbs more fully. So far I’ve discovered it’s a lot more complicated than saying, simply, that locally grown herbs are always best. I’m trying to tease out the key issues involved from the perspectives of...

Oregon's Wild Harvest

Randy Buresh: Connecting with the Plants

Randy Buresh, co-founder of Oregon’s Wild Harvest, became interested in traditional herbal medicine during his 20-year career as a registered surgical nurse. He noticed a pattern of unnecessary surgeries and pharmaceutical side effects and knew there had to be a better way. He started dabbling in herbs, making tinctures and studying Nat...

Ben Heron: Sourcing Medicinal Plants for Pukka

Ben Heron, Sustainable Herbs Manager for Pukka Herbs, oversees sourcing of key ingredients, ensuring that the methods of growing, harvesting, and processing the herbs meet Pukka’s quality and sustainability standards. SHP Intern Anita Burke edited the following from a Skyped conversation between Ann and Ben in October 2014.

Five Most Popular Interviews on the Herb Industry

I’ve created a list of our top 5 most popular interviews with leaders in the herb industry to make it easier to find them.

SHP How you Can Help

AHG Interview with Ann Armbrecht

Anne de Courtenay generously included an extensive interview with me about our work following herbs through the supply chain in the Journal of the American Herbalist Guild which should be available for free on the AHG site in the future. I wanted to include this one excerpt from the interview about my vision for the Sustainable Herbs Proj...

The Business of Herbal Medicine by Josef Brinckmann

This conversation with Josef Brinckmann, Vice President of Sustainability for Traditional Medicinals, for Numen inspired my current research following herbs through the supply chain of the botanical industry. And so I wanted to include some excerpts here to provide the foundation for this new project.

Stories and Sustainability in the Herb Industry

I went to Poland and Hungary this past fall to follow plants. I wanted to see how and in what ways they changed as they moved through the supply chain. Yet what captured my attention and my curiosity were the people: the men and women working hard at whatever part they play in that supply chain: collecting, drying, storing, selling, shipp...

Five Thoughts on the Herb Industry

We’ve just returned after almost five weeks of visiting herb farms, primary processing centers, and finished product manufacturers of herbal products. It’s been a whirlwind tour through three states and five countries. I have hours of footage and pages of notes to sort through, all of which will take many, many hours. But before immer...

Shawn Donnille of Mountain Rose Herbs

Mountain Rose is the go-to source for bulk medicinal herbs by most herbalists in the US and a generous supporter at herb conferences and of United Plant Savers. What started out as mail-order part of Rosemary Gladstar’s herb shop in northern California more than 20 Shawn Donnille of Mountain Rose Herbs speaks with the Sustainable Herbs ...

Contradictions in Herbal Medicine

I went to Nepal in the late 1980s as a graduate student in anthropology to look at the impact of a conservation area on a local community. It was a smart project based on a lot of research by some of the brightest Nepali researchers in the country at the time. I was interested in conservation, and I was interested in doing research that m...

Essential Oils by Cathy Skipper

At the 2013 International Herb Symposium, I attended herbalist Cathy Skipper’s workshop on essential oils. Cathy trained and now teaches at the ‘Ecole Lyonnaise de Plantes Médicinales‘ in France. I didn’t know much about essential oils and was curious to learn more.

Sustainable Sourcing: Pukka Herbs

I met with Sebastian Pole in his home south of Bristol. He served me a cup of Pukka tea and then led me to his office, a large room lined with bookshelves filled with books on India and Hinduism and Ayurvedic medicine and plants. As soon as he sat down, he began talking and, with little prompting from me, spoke for almost two hours about ...


Our Vision: A Local Medicine Movement

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.