Meet Our Makers: Barefoot Botanicals
Herbiary prides itself on sourcing all our products from ethical (and local, when possible!) farms and makers. We'd love to introduce you to some of them in our new Meet Our Makers interview series!
Meet Linda and Eric, the plant-lovers behind Barefoot Botanicals and one of our partner farms who help us create extracts, syrups, and farm-fresh herbs for Herbiary.
We sat down virtually with Linda to hear more about the story behind Barefoot Botanicals.
How did you and Eric meet?
Circa 1999, I needed a roommate, Eric had a couch surfer staying at his house. Couch surfer saw my fliers posted around University of Oregon’s campus (back then we did things like that) and on move-in day Eric and I met! He had the cutest dog named Tuesday. Hard to resist.
How did you create Barefoot Botanicals?
Eric and I moved back from Oregon to the east coast and felt both lonely and lost. We were looking for community, quality organic food and herbs, and purpose. Starting Barefoot filled all of these unmet needs for us.
What has your journey been like working with plants? Why do you feel connected with herbalism?
I had moved from Philadelphia to Southern Oregon, which was very different both ecologically and socially. I struggled to find my place there, and found the most comfort in the woods and eventually learned ways in which to interact with the plant world. I started with basket weaving with plants like willow, iris, and cattails and moved toward wanting to learn about medicinal uses. The Internet was so new, but I did a search and found Howie Brounstein and Steve Yeager in Eugene, Oregon and decided that I needed to move there and study with them. It changed my life and I have been on the plant path ever since, continuing studies with other teachers such as Colette Gardiner and David Winston as well as studying, practicing, and later teaching nursing.
What would you recommend for someone looking to begin working with plants more in their daily life?
Start with food! Make pesto with basil but also other herbs like cilantro, parsley or arugula, try using fire cider as salad dressing base, add lots of aromatic culinary herbs to foods when cooking, drink simple herbal teas to get to know the flavors and effects through consistent use. You don’t need to know how to make tinctures, create formulas, or study for years. You just need to start experimenting with food grade herbs.
If you could have a cup of tea with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and what kind of tea?
I would love to meet my maternal great grandmother. Most of my family is from Ireland but she came to the United States in an arranged marriage from the countryside around Palermo, Sicily. She tried her best to recreate life in her South Philly Row home, raising and butchering chickens in the backyard, walking to the live animal market to purchase a baby lamb for Easter and raising in the basement until butchering a few months later. She had many children (18!) and died young (from what I’m told she was depressed). I imagine that she grieved the loss of connection to the land and to herself. I drink Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) most regularly (it’s my favorite) and would share this with her.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You can do anything you want. Don’t doubt yourself so much or care what others think.
And for fun, what's your astrological sign?
Gemini (Eric is a Cancer).