Nov 12, 2013

Community Supported Herbalism // Portland Apothecary

The meaning behind the acronym CSH means a lot to us. CSH stands for Community Supported Herbalism. When we started Portland Apothecary we began with the concept of medicine boxes and used the more familiar term CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. As all new ventures we morphed and reshaped our ideas, getting rid of the idea of boxes and moving into shares much like a CSA. We then started realizing that while we aspire to have a small Portland Apothecary farm someday (and please do contact us if you have a lead on land near Portland for us!), we weren't quite an agricultural business even though we support small farmers in our process. We do use a similar model to a CSA still however, but instead of monthly or weekly shares we work on a seasonal basis and have CSH Shares available in Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Our supporters preorder their Shares and then we ship them out or they are picked up on or near the Solstice or Equinox of each season. 

We thought about it and for our first Autumn Share we used the term CSM, or Community Supported Medicine. That felt like a better fit and also felt empowering like we're taking the term back from Western Medicine's stronghold. Great. But then Elie went to California to help her father by working on the biodynamic farm he tends to, and off point, where some of our herbs come from. From what I could tell from our instagram feed they spent many nights after work grilling amazing food, drinking wine and talking about everything from the night sky to Portland Apothecary. After one of those nights it was clear to Elie that we should change once again. This time to CSH, or Community Supported Herbalism. Very specific, and very important to us to call our work what it is. Herbalism. A long line of tradition that both of us have ultimate respect for.

Calling our work a CSH has been very important in helping to define our desire to be educators as well as makers. We try and bring other herbalist's work into our collaborations and acknowledge our elders and teachers along the way. To stand in the continuing practice of such long held traditions can be breathtaking at times and we love our work. Both of us have over two decades, or more, of Western Herbalism training and practice and have dedicated our lives to this art. There are hardly minutes where we are not engaged with the practice. We are also blending in TCM herbalism because I (Kristen) am a licensed acupuncturist, and am dedicated to taking some of the mystery out of that art form and knowledge and translating it to be readily incorporated into daily practice.

We recently did a quick online search for CSH to see what would pop up and we're so happy to see that there are so many people adopting this idea, and whether it be from our influence or just one of those ideas whose time has come, it is amazing to see. The desire to reconnect with nature is strong for many people right now, and we are so encouraged by it. Here's to a wonderful and inspired movement!

Here are some links to people, places and events that we are enjoying right now! Of course this is an ever evolving list, and just a small sampling of people doing wonderful work!

>>>Mountain Rose Herbs has a wonderful resource in their blog.

>>>Wildcraft Studio School is doing amazing work with natural dyes and hosting both day and weekend classes at their studio. 

>>>Portland Plant Medicine Conference is coming up and hosts an amazing weekend of lectures and workshops, along with a community vendor space. 

>>>Botanicals Folklorica in Austin is making beautiful infused honeys that we are dying to try.

>>>Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine is gearing up for another year of studies in the beautiful Northern California area near Mount Shasta. 

We'll keep adding to this list in different posts! Fun to group together such amazing resources. 

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