In this series we will be talking with experts in the fields of health and wellness, herbal medicine, foraging and more! Learn what it’s like to be part of these professions along with some of their favorite tips and tricks!
In this first interview of the series, we are talking with Abby Artemisia of The Wander School. I recently had the amazing opportunity to talk with Abby on her podcast, The Wander, Forage, & Wildcraft podcast, which is available on her website.
1. What is your name, and the name of your company or organization? (please include website and social media handles and any other contact information you wish to a potential customer to have)
Abby Artemisia, The WANDER School
http://www.thewanderschool.com @thewanderschool on Facebook, Instagram, and The WANDER School on YouTube, patreon.com/thewanderschool, The Wander, Forage, & Wildcraft podcast.
2. What made you choose the career path that you are on?
I have always loved plants ever since I was a kid running around outside, climbing trees and exploring creeks. I started working on organic farms and in health food stores, then lived with Native Americans. Later I went back to school and got a degree in Botany. I also apprenticed with a great Herbalist, Leslita Williams. I combined all of it with a lot of self-teaching to do what I do now.
3. How do you describe what you do?
Up until now, I have mostly offered botanical education, including wild plant ID, foraging, and DIY herbal medicine making. Now I’m transitioning to a nonprofit to make herbs and botanical education accessible to communities in need.
4. What is your greatest accomplishment having to do with your business?
Becoming a nonprofit that can serve many communities and empower all of us with our own healthcare, to be able to give back for the knowledge I’ve received directly and indirectly from Native Americans and enslaved people and their descendants.
5. What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
Raising my daughter as a single parent and providing for us in ways I feel proud of.
6. What is one health secret you wish everyone knew?
Being disconnected from nature and each other is detrimental to our health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I believe the best thing we can do for our health is to spend time every day turning off electronics and wifi, going outside, and spending time in nature with our feet on the earth. Try it and see how your mood and energy change.
7. If you could sit with one person alive or dead for a day who would it be and why?
Any of my ancestors that had knowledge about the herbs around them. There’s so much we could learn from the generations before us. I know that many of my ancestors were health practitioners and I’d love to know what they believed, which herbs they worked with and how.
8. Who has had the most influence on you and your journey with health and wellness?
My teacher, Leslita Williams, an Herbalist. I have been working with her for 16 years! She has studied Ayurveda, Native American herbalism, Chinese medicine, and more, and has worked with rural communities for many years. She has taught me so much of what I know.
9. Where is one place that you traveled (or visited locally) that has helped you on your journey?
I lived with Native Americans in Oregon. It taught me not only about plants as medicine, but also about the spiritual medicine of plants and how to have reverence for them. This has guided much of my life as a plant person.
10. Is there somewhere you would like to travel that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Hawaii! I’d love to see the biodiversity of the flora in those places and learn from the Indigenous Herbalists there.
11. What one herb or plant do you identify with the most?
That’s a hard one, but probably dandelion. It’s stubborn as heck and can push its way through anything, still has a sunny exterior, and is a great tonic.
12. Who is someone in your field that you look up to the most?
I look up to and admire Linda Black Elk, a Native ethnobotanist in North Dakota. She is amazing for the way that she has learned, shares, and preserves the traditional medicine of various Native American tribes, how generously she gives food, medicine, and her time to people in need, and her social justice activism.
13. Is there a malady that you get asked about more than others? What do you recommend for it?
I am often asked about allergies. This is a great example of how herbalism is a wholistic science. I talk to people about how, as Herbalists, we don’t just work on the symptoms, but the lifestyle as a whole. I recommend to cut out (or reduce as much as possible) sugar, dairy, and alcohol. This alone usually helps a lot. I recommend stress reduction techniques, liver support with herbs like burdock; tonifying and antihistamine herbs like goldenrod, stinging nettle, and/or Spanish needles; and increasing antioxidants in our nutrition, by adding foods like greens and berries.
14. Because shopping locally is so important, what is a place local to you that you like to shop and why is it your favorite?
The farmers market. We have to support our local farmers so they can keep farming. Plus, I love socializing and fresh-from-the-ground food.
15. Where do you see alternative medicine in 10 years?
My hope is that it is more accepted by the mainstream, that it’s covered by insurance, less expensive, practitioners are at a much lower risk of persecution, and more people are educated about it.
16. What is your biggest challenge in your business?
Being of service while still supporting my family financially
17. What other jobs have you held or has this been your only profession?
A lot! I’ve farmed and worked in retail and restaurants. I learned a lot about what I did and didn’t want to do.
18. What would you say to someone who wants to go into alternative medicine?
I would be honest: it’s tough, requires a lot of education, you have to be willing to work hard and do lots of marketing, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do and you can help lots of people.
19. What is something that you would like our readers to know about you?
My life is not all frolicking in the forest; there’s a lot of behind the scenes administrative work, but being in nature is what keeps me healthy and sane and I hope to inspire that love of nature in people, along with empowerment with their own health care.
20. Who are some of your favorite bloggers and podcasts?
Of course my podcast, Wander, Forage, & Wildcraft, Kelly Moody’s Groundshots Podcast, Thomas Rashad Easley’s Heartwood Podcast, and Herb Rally Podcast.
Thank you to Abby Artemisia for her amazing answers and insight! I can’t believe she did not mention her amazing book! The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders which is available on her website! Thank you again and be sure to check back next week for another great interview!