by Anita Burke


No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main….
– John Donne

During my search for local organic herbs, I visited supermarkets, farmers markets, and community gardens. Starting a neighborhood herb study group wasn’t part of the plan, but that is where my search led.

As I looked for local herbalists, I found weekly herb classes held at a shop on the other side of town. After attending several of these classes, I gained valuable plant knowledge and learned of additional sources of local organic herbs. As an introvert, I find it difficult to start conversations with strangers or engage in idle chit-chat with people I don’t know well. I would go so far as to call myself socially awkward. But there’s something about sharing observations of the effects of Shativari over a cup of tea…maybe it’s the intimate setting or simply the tea itself. Perhaps it’s the shared passion for plants. Whatever the reason, it is a bonding experience.

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

For various reasons (mainly the distance to the shop), I am not able to attend as many of the classes as I’d like. This inspired me to start a neighborhood herb study group. After all, isn’t that what the vision of the Sustainable Herbs Project is all about? Imagine if every neighborhood had an herb study group!


No (Wo)man is an Island

The initial excitement I felt about starting a neighborhood herb study group has not dwindled. In fact, it increases with every meeting of the group. However, I confess to difficulty overcoming the introverted herb nerd who wants to bury herself in her herb books, studying alone. But that won’t help further the vision. Meeting folks who share a passion for herbs and sharing knowledge and experience with other herbalists will further the vision.

The Bluff Park Neighborhood Herb Study Group was officially formed in August 2017. The group has two members, with a third person committed to joining this month. We take turns choosing the herb and areas of study to focus on (more about this in my next post). So far we’ve studied Canadian and Japanese Honewort, Fennel, Basil and Burdock. We are still feeling our way along and making changes as we go, but these curriculum guidelines were an excellent place to start. Being a part of this group has been so interesting and fun that I’ve put off writing this blog post for way too long.

Over the next few months, I will share my experiences with starting the group…the challenges, the mistakes, the benefits. Hopefully you will be inspired to start your own neighborhood herb study group! If you are already a part of an herb study group, please share your experiences in the comments section below. As for me, I’m off to track down a burdock farmer!