Voices from the land

by Susan Leopold

This year’s Journal celebrates 25 years of Medicinal Plant Conservation and is our most extensive publication to date. The theme is Voices from the Land, with intent to share indigenous perspectives in relationship with plants. This perspective is most profound in the article on white sage and the conflict with commercialization and cultural appropriation of a plant sacred to many. These issues have been a part of United Plant Savers discourse since the inception of the organization. I looked back over all the past publications and discovered an article from 2005 by Karyn Sanders, “Wildcrafting: Why We Should Not, A Native American Perspective”, who put forth a call for herbalists to consider not harvesting wild plants for seven years. Her article presents plants as people, living beings with capacity for knowledge, intimacy, relationships, and communication. This perspective aligns with another article by Dr. Jody E. Noé, MS, ND, from 2010, NO -DA -TSI A- DI -TA -S –DI “Tea That Makes Friends out of Enemies”, Spicebush, Lindera benzoin.” It shares the Cherokee traditional use of making peace with ourselves, with others, and with our environment. Certainly plants are teachers, offering wisdom and healing, as our ancient ancestors here long before us. Over the years we have had wonderful contributions such as Kat Anderson’s, “The Original Medicinal Plant Gatherers and Conservationists”, published in 2016, and in 2013 we published “DOING IT RIGHT, Issues and Practices of Sustainable Harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Products Relating to First Peoples in British Columbia” by Nancy J. Turner. All of our Journals are online free for download under the resources tab, and we look to publish our Journals into one book to offer a reflection of voices and stories over the last 25 years of the organization’s diverse contributors.

We have filled this issue with international perspectives on how medicinal plants are managed, such as the innovations in Bulgaria and the impact of communism in regards to the medicinal plant trade in Albania. Stories from the Sacred Seeds international network of botanical sanctuaries share how India is trying to manage and protect its medicinal plant diversity and the work of Holt Woods in England, a medicinal forest garden teaching and networking farmers and herbalists. In a rapidly changing environment we have a story from the Marshall Islands dealing with climate change, the opportunity of using invasive plants as medicine; and “For the Wild,” a project to restore the Redwoods; and a podcast, described as, “a love song to disappearing wild places.” “Romancing the Root” is an article that reveals how ginseng works its magic bringing together important people\plant relationships to explore plant conservation and herbal medicine.

Our Journal is truly unique in the diverse and eclectic voices from our members. Stories from our Botanical Sanctuary Network and featured artists from our Deep Ecology Art Fellowship bring creativity to how we can enrich our relationship with plants and in return heal ourselves and the planet. We hope our Journal inspires, uplifts, and engages those who read its pages. Our members are critical to the work of United Plant Savers, and we thank you as we celebrate 25 years with the Opening of the Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation.