Another Rockstar Millennial here to tell help educate people about caring for our environment! From 1849 Medicine Garden Bonnie Rose Weaver is here to share her story! She’s written a book called Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis which I know many green future growers will be interested in!
During the first three years, we grew over fifty western medicinal herbs in 1/16th of an acre in San Francisco, CA. Our goal was to increase our regional medicine chest and promote the use, knowledge and access to medicinal herbs in our city.
1849 Medicine Garden
Somewhere between a small urban farm and a demonstration garden our principal question was: What is local medicine? How do we cultivate a local medicine movement and local healing communities?
Beginning in January 2015 we offered an 18 month herbal subscription (or CSA, Community Supported Agriculture) from 1849 Medicine Garden to our San Francisco community consisting of a tincture and a informational piece of art. We also used the garden to host classes and events.
Tell us a little about yourself. Is 1849 Medicine Garden your address?
I used to have a garden in the middle of San Fransisco in the Mission District it was located on Guerrero St and 18th and a lot of times people would confuse the address of the garden with the name of the Garden or the name of the project is 1849 Medicine but the address was actually on the 500 block.
The name 1849 Medicine Garden
is the same 1849 Medicine Garden comes from the history of the land from Northern California. You can trace our history back to what we know about the gold rush, that’s what made San Francisco the beginnings for the city today.
- It was boom town
- kind of built overnight in a sense
- as much as a legacy
Americas and especially of the United States one of colonial history. I use that name to root the name in where we are now.
I’ve been working on growing medicine
similar type of boomtown here based in the second tech boom and so I just try to point that out, try to acknowledge the affect the land
Appropriateness of time and place as medicine in my work as an urban farmer.
IDK what made me think it was the address, now that you say that it does look like a year.
Maybe that’s the ambiguity of it, I almost put it out there as a thiking piece let’s try to remember where we come from.
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
I love that question. It’s one that I like to ask people as well.
I wrote a book as you mentioned and it’s called Deeply Rooted. It starts out with my very first gardening experience, when I was probably 3-4 I was in preschool.
another part of my story
I have a love and admiration for is I was born and raised here. I went to pre-school a couple of blocks from where my medicine garden was. I remember arguing with my 3-4 year old peers, that plants take in water. I don’t remember what we were growing it could have been a tomato or a pea it could have been anything
My peer was adamant that they take them in through their roots! I thought they took water in through their leaves, I didn’t know what roots were I had never seen them before because I was 3! Just that whole consciousness raising of what plants are and how they work.
It’s funny the weird things we remember from childhood! The things that stick out.
It’s very telling… I thin some of my most early memories of life have to do with being outside and being with plants.
How did you learn how to garden organically?
It took me a long time to realize it was a calling and path of mine. Certainly being reaised in the city. I didn’t have a lot of access to plant medicines etc. My family went camping a couple of times a year, there was a kind of otherness to the natural world, that was outside of me and outside of the city it was something I was certainly raised to appreciate.
I didn’t garden much as a kid but as an adult I came full circle with my interest in gardening. As a young adult kind of persuing that as an extracuricular. Then along the way when I was living in Olympia, WA began to get this exposure to plant medicines.
So not just being aware of plants but being aware of them as beings and forces of healing
never let go of what it was to relearn that take that into my being it was such a divorce between what is medicine and the natural world
idea of plant medicine was quite intense for me at the beginning because I had never been around it. I never want to take that for granted I have a really big emphasis and compassion to people who aren’t exposed to plant medicine.
The mission of 1849 Medicine Garden is access to an education about herbal medicine
a couple of different projects
a medicine garden
incarnation of this book
I’m not sure what else is next… I am definitely passion
Do you want to talk about what herbal medicine is I imagine it’s taking herbs and using them for medicine.
I think, there’s a lot of different layers to what plant medicine is,
Your Plant Medicine Connection
I’ll just start off with the idea that all of our ancestors practiced plant medicine so that’s one unifying piece that I like to draw people in with.
- where’ve you are
- who ever you are
- whatever your doing…
you had ancestors who used plant medicine. So that’s your personal connection!
My ancestors come from Italy, Croatia and Europe. That is what we currently call western herbalism. That being a differenciation from a
- traditional Chinese
- classical Chinese
- those are the more well known
- truly medicine from all over the world
probably were related at some point have also shifted with the influence of time, trade, and place and so much is based on place becuase it’s based on plants that one has access too
collection of herbs that I used as medicine that are from Europe and ones that were native to the Americas. All of them grow in the San Francisco Bay area
Urban farmer background
when I started getting interested in herbal medicine
What is local Medicine?
beginning herbal farming
transfixed by this idea that we are able to grow our own food! How powerful is that?
That you can see an artichoke growing
As an urbannite there’s not much of a connection between food and people. I cultivated this collection of herbs and medicines.
I had 50 different medicinal herbs growing at 1849 Medicine Garden
certain ones that really stood out because they grew so well, in this way that if I had enough abundance to process them. In a traditionalist way to process and preserve and herb
- take the herb fresh
- weighing process the weight of herb to amount of liquid you are going to use
- essentially you are puttin gthe herb into an alcohol to create a tincture.
If you have ever walked into a health food store or an herb shop that is a tincture
it really just depends on what angle your coming at, some people were raised using tinctures – that’s what I use as the main medium for herbal medicine
A tincture lasts for 10 years.
If I have an amazing passion flower vine that is ready for processing it’s in full flower, it’s probably mid to late summer. I can collect my passion flower and preserve it in alcohol. I have enough nervous system support for me and my friends for many many years.
There’s other ways to use herbal medicine
- drying herbal medicine
- put them in your bath
- in ceremony
- infinite way of how to use herbs
That’s part of the medicine is truly just being the tender of the medicinal and appreciate and acknowledge the energy the plants give you. Part of the medicine for me has been in being a medicinal plant cultivator and the energy I get from that and a part of having them be a part of my life on an energetic level.
I think all gardeners, because we get to be around the plant and they feed us in a spiritual way.
How would somebody know what Passion Flower’s for? If someone is just starting out and wanting to plant are there some basics to start with?
Another aspect of my work.
My story I came to herbal medicine like many people because I was sick
- grew up with asthma.
- I had been taking inhalers for most of my life.
- those types of medicines don’t fix the problem
- they’re not preventative or part of a long term solution.
My first project was to find plants that were good for the lungs. After several weeks of research and starting to take the herbs every day for 3 months, I notice my lungs were much stronger and I have never taken another inhaler.
That experience was one of the most profound experiences, in my life.
I wanted to share that feeling and share that empowerment that I got.
Sharing your story is probably helping other people. A lot of people have asthma or kids with it.
people all the time
live with asthma. Everybody’s different. We are biology and chemistry in action!
All herbs affect different parts of the body.
Asthma is just one example.
People tell me all the time! Oh I have asthma. I want to say have you tried herbs? There’s a lot of herbs that can support the lungs and can help you move mucus or help you have greater lung capacity.
keep the lungs healthy
Your questions was how does one know how does a plant work? What it works on in the body.
That is certainly a whole different repertoire the growing aspect.
Half of it is stories and essays and being a medicine farmer and how I came to it. The 2nd half is a collection of monographs which is a collection essays about individual herbs. I called the herbs we grew at 1849 Medicine Garden the Bay Area Medicine Chest because they grow in the San Francisco Bay Area but they grow all over the country. A lot of them are weeds.
One thing a newly interested excited medicine gardener would want to look at on plants.
if you want to learn, there are tons of books
You could order my book
you could order any book on herbalism
good photos you can start to id them
Reader’s Digest has good books for beginners.
But when you’re starting to understand there is nothing better then really just studying them when you are in the garden.
There is the Doctrine of Signatures. It’s a very old idea.
I believe it was developed by Paracelsus
It’s the idea that something looks like it helps
walnut has omega threes and 6s but it has the omegas’ that are good for the brain and it looks like a brain.
- In the garden there’s passion flower it’s a vine and trails all over the place and has these beautiful complex flowers and a lot of people there’s a saying that Passion Flower clears chatter of the mind
- helps us kind of slow down…
- great remedy for tuning
- getting ready for bed
being a little bit more relaxed
beautiful leaves and intricate flowers and the way it
The nervous system is like a web and passion flower is like a web.
Mullen That’s plant
- It’s a biennial
- grows a rosette of green furry leaves
- 2nd year or 3rd years it shoots up a big stalk.
Leaf looks like a lung,
It leaf is traditionally used as a good lung tonic
The lung has all these crevices and the mullen leaf is covered in all these fine hairs
A lot of herbs that have a lot of leaves support the lungs.
It’s the Doctrine of Signatures.
If it needs a big breathing pallet, it’s gonna gonna help you with your breathing surface
The stalks look a little bit like ears people use them for ear aches.
The list goes on for the Doctrine of Signatures.
It’s really totally up to you and see that and how you look at the plants in the garden. There’s a really great book that I like
by Julia Graves….
That’s really interesting to folks.
The plant that I have the most of Oregano, is there anything I can do with Oregano?
Totally, the beauty of herbs is that they kind of live on a spectrum of edible to medicinal. You can pick any herb any plant and say is this a medicinal plant or is this an edible plant and there are even some that are toxic and what you need to know the importance with the appropriateness of all that. You need to gain a familiarity with it and get to know them well, I recommend that. When you’re jumping into anything you don’t know what your doing.
For example garlic.
garlic it is going from medicine to food
Take carrots you eat the whole vegetable.
put it right in the middle
we eat a lot of it but we don’t eat
Mabye between medicine and garlic
Something we use on our food more sparingly
You wouldn’t want to put passion flower as food on your topping because of what you are
Something like oregano any herbs that you know as a spice that you would find in a kitchen. That is kind of the test to how safe it is
No one’s worried your gonna put too much thyme.
With medicinal herbs you do have to wonder more about dosing, so that needs to be more controlled.
Oregano is more of a
- Italian herbs
- great for the immune system
- antibacterial essential herbs
- that is why we put them in our pasta
- food and medicine
- allowing food to be our medicine
symbiosis that we have with plants as people. Plants produce phyto-chemicals – plant chemicals that enable them to keep them safe
we’re abel to break them down we have coevolved with all of these plants so they produce things that are beneficial for us.
Wild Vs. Cultivated
- a lot of the plants are wild
- others are cultivated in gardens
loved by a human
working for the pant
isn’t working for you
It’s kind of a complex web, getting your feet wet and dirty in the garden while allowing the earth and loving the earth and letting the earth love you.
Awww I like that. Do you want to talk about one of the stories in your book?
There are a lot of great stories I feel in this book. I mean every plant has it’s own stories.
The book started out as a good-bye project to the garden.
At 1849 Medicine Garden I was farming a 1/16 of an acre but in San Francisco that’s a big backyard. A big Backyard!! I had been there for 3-4 and my landlord asked me to leave.
I think that says a lot about where we are in a country.
- most expensive place to live ever
- everything’s expensive
- consider things to be resource
I live inside of the internet there are aspects of technology that affect me on a daily basis.
- twitter is on market street
- google buses that run up and down
lives and works as an medicine maker and a farmer and as an aspiring community herbalist. I just don’t have the capital to afford to compete with something with a roof over my head in the most expensive city of the world. So, a lot of my pursuit of herbalism has been an experiment.
There’s a sister project had I learned a lot from called Little City Gardens. I had urban farm called inherited my land from them
- built my own political stance
- understanding of place
- local medicine local food consciousness
that was the development of a CSA community supported ag
So every month my clients would get a tincture and a little booklet and an essay about the project, and when I decided to leave I decided to put them all together in a collection and add some more stories because every plant had a story.
What I would like to share, is an essay about a
- It kind of talks about how complicated our life is now, so much access to so much info
- in cities we live really densely
- a lot of our natural needs of space and connecting with the earth are disrupted but
- and at the same time we are connected though social medial
- people all around us all the time
So living in balance with the earth can be an extreme blessing
harvest talks about how I relate to the land
let my garden be for a portal for other people to relate to land
we live on stolen land
built by gold miners and shaped by history by
- LBGTQ movement
- Latinos in the mission
developed the land
now run by
what we call techy’s people who run the internet
how herbal medicine is this component of health and well being that live really deeply within us and also hae a bit forgotten and how to do we uncover that and live in what is
- truly healing
there’s one part of this essay
A friend came to the garden she was an herbalist, but she wasn’t as familiar with the plants. Sometimes you work with the plants but you don’t know the plants by hand, you know how to grow them but you don’t necessarily know what they do.
She was wandering about garden and came across a plant and she had had such a long term connection with the plant
- after break up
- mother wart
- mint family
- heart tonic
- really special plant
When I told her what it was she was just totally transfixed, she hung out with the plant for along time. She got to it experienced what it felt like to be with that plant.
a piece harvest
another piece of the book that I wanted to share with you today
a piece I have never been asked about not in an interview or by a friend not by anyone. It’s a piece called
it’s just a couple of paragraphs
funny backstory, I wrote it on my phone, a lot of the book came to me, I would get a message, I would get the meaning at work or when I was meditating, maybe somewhere on the bus and I would have to get it down.
It came to me when I was sitting in this empty lot
in the back of a lot that had been a farm, a piece that wasn’t developed yet as a farm. I was sitting on a rock, and all around me was growing I was surrounded by really tall fennel.
- blackberry on the ground
I was transfixed by this feeling of not being around combination of plants they all grow wild in San Franscisco
3 Wild Plants
all three of them are not planted they have ways of protecting itself
- if you have ever tried to dig a wild fennell
- will sprout back
- blackberry has a very strong root and it’s also really pokey.
- and mug wart is kind of
- this swamp
- disturbed soil
really incredible smell
one of a kind
- picking up their energy
- super powers
- defense mechinisms
that little essay
what is the medicine of the plants as they grow together, and the context of them growing together. This particular place I was sitting
was a like a riverbed
beginin to learn about the plants
- by observing it
- need shade
- seeing what does it need to thrive
that’s really where people who are gardeners should begin…. developing that observation pack, you can learn a lot from plants like that.
I think you did a good job of presenting that eloquently. I think a lot of listeners will be interested in your book.
I’m just like that, I have over 2000 notes on my phone, but I’m like that too, I hear it and have to get it down right them, the right time comes along, it seems like you hear voices here or see a vision of a piainting, I can’t just sit at a white page.
The juxaposition of living in San Francisco
id think I mentioned this has this other component of time and place
doing something really old in a modern hip place
reason and ability
action and place to learn about herbal medicine
I didn’t want to work on the internet
to do herbal medicine
to do anything that I love
It was only through persistent encouragement through friends and family
through instagram I could meet more people where they are at
being able to create a tincture I can inspire lots of people at one time.
do it quite instantly
really tying these things together
finally coming together
Im gonna get a smart phone
like any tool you can get a hammer and you can
- build a house or
- whack your finger
I’m a younger person in this field
The people I study with
- urban farmers
- master herbalists
I come with kind of an offering
- how do we combine how do we bring herbalism in the 21st century?
- how do we use it to the best of our ability?
That’s why I wrote a book, a little bit of a blend but enables us to put something in people’s hands
- somewhat a dying art
- filled with illustrations and graphics
I was able to work with friends who did an incredible job. I poured my heart and soul into this book if you are interested definitely check it out.
People can get the books on my website
on social media
My handle on Instagram is eighteenfortynine
I love herbs
I love talking about herbs
I think getting to know some herbs in your garden is a really great way to be going the relationship with healing and your energy. If you are a gardener there are lots of ways that ouch can begin to cultivate herbs into your landscape.
beautiful flowers like echincea
food medicine garden
more edible plants
bring them into your life that way
If you are somebody has a certain issue
- working on digestion
- wanna get pregnant
- chronic yeast
There are all different ways to tap into them and start getting to know those plants, a lot are weeds….
One of my goals is to grow more herbs this summer, they bring in bees, and they are perennials a lot of them. there’s probably lots of medicinal plants. A lot of them are probably made for your area, and that’s part of the natural landscaping piece.
Yeah! You can definitely weave plants into landscaping…
There are plants that are definitely region specific oyou just have to be specific.
Like Mullen you were talking about it’s very drought resisitant, it thrives here in Montana where you don’ get a lot of rain. I think some medicinals are tricky, basil is a tough one for me because it’s so susetible to frost you just never know you can get a frost one night in August and that’s it.
how to use them
plants that want to be babied and others people have told me just shows up in their lawn when they had a bronchial infection!
aspects of the herbs being wild
encourage them to have a rougher time
higher photo chemicals
If you pamper a plant it’s not going to be as effective
piece in the book about that in the book
there’s the multi cycle germination issue
- plants that have to go through a frost or
- intestinal tract of an animal
- beat plants that start from seed
more resistent and resilient
a lot are perennials which is a beautiful part if you just put in the medicine garden he keeps giving back, if you harvest it properly
if you are in Montana and you can’t grow basil so easily
Tulsi and Holly basil I love doing medicine trades
I’ll grow holy basil and send it as a tincture to my friends and she’ll send me Oregon grape root
I just love Faccebook and through my podcast I have met people all around the world, and close to me next week we’re going to the Free the Seeds this event because of people I met through my podcast and yesterday I interviewed Julia Howard from the Saratoga Farmer’s Market and she was talking about the impact social media and instagram, she was having a harder time with Facebook, it’s more pay to play now, but I still love facebook, and how social media posts, helping them to connect their farmer’s market being able to expand.
There’s definitely pros and cons.
I feel like millennials people don’t connect as much or look each other in the eye but it has helped me connect I didn’t think I would one to say that, Also living in the times that we live in the political climate we truly have to see our tools for what they are and use them in powerful ways.
Live Social Media
When there’s a live video of a young black man being murdered by the police it’s a great way to acticate people and hold people accountable. I encourage people to use tools responsibly.
Look at the water protectors in the North Dakota I think Mike just said they were gonna raid the camp, and how many people went to Standing Rock because of social media and he turned to me one night and said, look here’s Neil Young on FACEBOOK LIve right now walking around the Standing Rock Campground. And I have a friend in Chicago who said she can feel lonely as a podcast not having an office to go to.
Go down to your garden root into the earth. Another really powerful
I hope listeners will order Bonnie’s book, I ordered my copy.