The Ohio Herbal Elders Project is a dynamic collaborative oral history & folklife project developed by oral historian & documentary artist Jess Lamar Reece Holler of Caledonia Northern Folk Studios, Lily Kunning of Central Ohio worker-owned herbalist co-operative Haven Herbs (originally as a part of her Sassafras Ohio statewide herbal gathering organizing efforts) and Susan Leopold, Executive Director of United Plant Savers in Meigs County, Ohio. The original project idea was developed by Lily Kunning in 2019; United Plant Savers served as the host organization for the project, & Jess Lamar Reece Holler // Caledonia Northern Folk Studios served as project director, oral historian, & media producer.
The Ohio Herbal Elders Project seeks to document & amplify the rich & diverse cultural traditions, influences, educational systems, & methods of transmission of Ohio’s founding generation of 20th century herbalists, and to document the rich flourishing of traditional plant medicine practices in our state — including through formal & informal herbalist apprenticeship programs. Ohio Herbal Elders Project interviews, folklife documentation, & media-rich pieces will be jointly displayed on the websites of Caledonia Northern Folk Studios, United Plant Savers, and Lily Kunning, Community Herbalist; and will be featured in on-site kiosks at the new United Plant Savers education center at the UpS’s Goldenseal Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio.
OHEP commenced its inaugural interview — with renowned Appalachian Ohio herbal teacher & medicine-maker Paul Strauss, of Equinox Botancials in June 2020 under rigid COVID-19-safe distanced-outdoor interviewing protocols — with the support of an ArtSTART grant from the Ohio Arts Council. We hope to grow the program with additional interviews, herb farm & sanctuary visits, and herbalist-led documentary herb walks, in 2021 + 2022.
- Narrator — Paul Strauss
- Oral Historian // Interviewer — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
- Photography — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
- Synths — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
- Soundscape Recording — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
- Media Production — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
- Project Direction — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
- Project Planning, Vision, & Administration — Lily Kunning (Haven Herbs; Sassafras Ohio); Susan Leopold (United Plant Savers), Jess Lamar Reece Holler (Caledonia Northern Folk Studios)
This project was made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Ohio Arts Council’s ArtsNEXT Grant, 2019-2020.
Interview (c) Paul Strauss & Jess Lamar Reece Holler, 2020. Project photography & edited media files (c) Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios. For personal use only. Project media cannot be used in any subsequent media production, research, or publication without the explicit permission of the rights-holders. Please contact Caledonia Northern Folk Studios for permissions or rights negotiations.
Select a track title below to listen to the recordings.
A Life with Plants: An Oral History
Full-Length Oral History