I spent half a day on this past Saturday at the Bastyr Herb and Food Fair and came away completely recharged on my “herbal thing.”
Bastyr University is one of the premier colleges for naturopathic education in the United States, and holds the annual event in early June every year. It’s a chance to visit the college campus and shop the various vendors’ wares (herbal products for whole health running the gamut from beauty and skin care to flower essesnces and herbal tonics), including the university’s bookstore, with it’s wealth of herbal tomes (my personal interest) and medical texts.
I haven’t been for about three years, and was toying with going this year. Since I don’t have a garden of my own right now, and my medicinal herb garden was sold with my house in 2007, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go and “tease” myself. I downloaded the schedule of events to find that the keynote speaker was none other than Richo Cech, of Horizon Herbs in Oregon. I’ve been a longtime fan of his fabulous seed catalog, as well as a customer in years past. His knowledge is expansive (the seed catalog is almost as good as many of the herbal books I have) and his products are unmatched (a vast selection of medicinal and culinary herb seeds, and plants too, that I dare you to find anywhere else). On top of it, the keynote was at NOON, instead of the usual 9:00 a.m. thing, so I had plenty of time for a leisurely Saturday morning with the dogs.
I got there with enough time to park down the street and walk in though the footpath in the adjoining St. Edwards State Park. It was a warm day, though overcast for the first day in weeks, and I enjoyed the trot in. I perused the vendor’s booths (resisting the herb sales) and signed up for a university study on the immune enhancing properties (or not) of medicinal mushrooms, specifically turkey tail mushrooms. They were also conducting the same study on echinacea, but I’m not an echinacea acolyte so I passed on that one.
I viewed the Horizon Herbs table, again resisting purchasing seeds (all in good time, Maureen), and then headed inside for the keynote. I got there in the nick of time, as the room filled up and it was literally standing room only (or sitting on the floor room only). I’m not sure why it wasn’t held in the auditorium rather than just one of the classrooms, but it was a great talk nonetheless. Richo had a PowerPoint presentation (photos) that he narrated like a true storyteller. He spent over a month off the east coast of Africa where he collected seeds and quickly became known as Docktari, using his herbalist skills to help heal minor ailments with the locals. His knowledge of the area and the language (Swahili) stemmed from a stint 30 years ago as a young archaeologist and he described his history and this trip with equal parts humor and a captivating appreciation for herbs, the people, and the serendipity of life. He’s in the process of writing a book about the experience and I am looking forward to its publication.
Perhaps the best part of the whole day for me was the reenergizing of my interest and desire to grow medicinal herbs. I’m not sure where or when just yet, or how/what I’ll do with them once I grow them (thinking herbal business), but I’m positive this is in my future and I can hardly wait.