Sagewood Herb Farm Botanical Sanctuary

2010 Medicinal Plant Conservation Award has been awarded to Kate and Dan Rakosky of Sagewood Botanical Sanctuary in Kingston, Rhode Island

When they first bought their historic home in densely populated southern New England, much of their 2 acres was mowed. Slowly Kate and Dan began replanting medicinal species, letting the lovely vernal pool return to a diverse wetland ecology, and encouraging the native flora left to blossom again.

Shortly after becoming a UpS Botanical Sanctuary in 2006, the Rakoskys put on a garden tour fundraiser for UpS, and asked the local paper to do a story on their event. Little did they realize that publicity sparked many invitations to host tours of their Sanctuary and speak at a variety of other local events, including the RI Master Gardeners’ meeting, the Connecticut Herb Festival and the Sustainable Living Festival. Kate and Dan also staffed tables for UpS at many of these events, further publicizing the work of UpS and the message of stewardship generally. They have prepared a beautiful slide show of their Botanical Sanctuary that’s been shown at herb gatherings like the NE Women’s Herbal Conference, and they sell propagated native medicinal plants at their local farmers’ market and herbal events. All the while, they are planting seeds, literally and figuratively, raising awareness of the conservation of native flora.

Their Sanctuary is a beautiful and inspiring example of what two people can do on a small piece of land. Kate told me a story about Dan observing a flock of blackbirds descending upon a patch of goldenseal, full of ripe berries, in their little patch of forest. The birds ate berries until they noticed Dan and flew off. They wished the birds and the seeds well, wondering where they may end up. Truly, the seeds the Rakoskys plant do find fertile ground – our most recent Sanctuary steward, Katy Locke, credits Kate’s slide show with the inspiration to create her own Sanctuary, also in a suburban yard in New England!

UpS is happy to recognize the work of these two dedicated herbalists who have done so much to raise awareness in their area by reaching out to gardeners, nature-lovers, and conscientious green folks about our proper role as stewards of native plants. And they have done it in such a beautiful and inspiring way through their lush, absolutely gorgeous gardens and wild plantings throughout their land. The Medicinal Plant Conservation Award will be presented to the Rakoskys at the International Herb Symposium in June 2011 in Massachusetts.

May the seeds you plant continue to find fertile soil and grow beyond your fondest dreams!!