Medicinal Plant Conservation Award 2021

This year’s award goes to Penelope Beaudrow of the The Ginkgo Tree and Kina Gegoo Botanical Sanctuary in Cannington, Ontario.

penelope beaudrow
Penelope Beaudrow

Penelope debuted a wonderful film, ‘For the Love of Medicinal and Native Plants” featuring her journey in created a botanical sanctuary. Furthermore, she helped launch a Sanctuary Dreamers a meetup group for AHG along with Mimi Hernandez to support and encourage those thinking about creating a botanical sanctuary. Her passion to encourage herbalist to include native plant conservation as a part of the herbalist core curriculum is deeply inspiring and critical to the mission of United Plant Savers. Rosemary Gladstar among others reached out to nominate Penelope for this award. We decided to share this touching letter of nomination that was submitted by Conrad Richter another UpS member and avid plant saver and known propagator.

“Giving Back – It’s Good for the Soul”

This may be the mantra that resonates with the wider herbal medicine consuming public. Yes, there is a general awareness that some herbal medicines come from the wild, and that some herbs may be getting scarce. But in a worldview that sees plants as an inanimate resource to be taken and used whenever we like, Penny’s mantra may be what gets people thinking not only about safeguarding this precious resource that gives us health but also about giving back to the plants.

Penny’s path from family farm to joining a nearby company that makes herbal medicines is not unusual. She earned two diplomas in herbalism and became a registered herbalist in Ontario. But over more than two decades of studying and working with herbs, giving back knowledge to the herbal and health care communities gradually rose to become an important part of who she is. She became a community outreach specialist and educator, a conference coordinator, and founder of a herbal festival, all while she continued her work as a product development specialist for the herbal medicine company she joined in 1997.

Throughout her career she never lost touch with her roots while living on the family farm she shares with her husband. Even before she knew it, she was creating a sanctuary for medicinal plants. She decided to give back 60 acres of her 100 acre farm to nature because of her love of the outdoors. And she planted a teaching garden for her herbal education business, The Ginkgo Tree, which she runs on the farm when she is not busy developing products or away at conferences.

When she learned about the work of the United Plant Savers she immediately became a member. She realized that what she was doing on her farm was what UpS has long encouraged. She was planting “at risk” and “to watch” plants in her teaching garden where she teaches students the importance of treating these plants as precious gifts to humankind. She also realized that giving back tillable land to nature where these plants could flourish was helping to ensure their survival for future generations. The ideals of UpS excited her so much that she soon decided to join the Botanical Sanctuary Network as the first sanctuary in Ontario.

With infectious enthusiasm Penny encourages her students, her clients, and her professional health care colleagues to plant herbs such as arnica, bloodroot, black cohosh, blue cohosh, echinacea, goldenseal, trilliums, and many more, as she has on her farm. She regularly leads a medicinal plant sanctuary walk on her farm in which she talks about the loss of wild medicinal plant stocks and about the urgent need to plant “at risk” and “at watch” plants. Her mantra is already bearing fruit for the benefit of us all.

Penny has set aside a separate portion of her land — about five acres — to be what may be described as a “whole ecosystem” sanctuary, where nature can unfold without human intervention. Human access is limited to only an occasional visit every few years, otherwise the area is left undisturbed. That wild turkeys, coyotes, and hawks are common sightings, and even bobcats, bears and cougars have been seen in the area, suggests that the ecosystem is becoming healthy again. In the coming years it will be interesting to follow the progress of natural unassisted development of medicinal plant communities in this area.

I believe that Penny is worthy of the Medicinal Plant Conservation Award. Her work and beliefs are eminently aligned with the goals of the UpS. She is strong advocate of medicinal plant conservation. In the years to come her “giving back” to these plants will inspire the souls of many to give back also.

Respectfully submitted by:
Conrad Richter President
Richters Herbs Goodwood, Ontario

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