September 7, 2013

If you’ve ever been to the Green Farmacy Garden on a Wednesday, then you’ll know that Wednesdays are volunteer days. The garden is buzzing with people chatting away as they weed, seed, move plants and otherwise tidy up the place. If you’ve never been to the garden – well, go.

Dr. Jim Duke’s garden is a treasure – a four-tiered medicinal-plant-lover’s paradise where the plants are organized by the disease or condition they help. As you walk past the gazebo and down the grassy walkways, you’ll find stones engraved with disease titles in each bed. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and valerian (Valeriana officinalis) are nestled near the “Insomnia” stone, while chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) and motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) hang out in the PMS plot.

When Juniper and I showed up last Wednesday, we spent a few minutes catching up with Peggy as she took inventory of her gorgeous plant drawings. Jim graciously hosted us in his office, a man-cave extraordinaire filled with books, notes and other signs of a great mind at work. It’s the perfect place to work on the database <– and if you don’t already know about this, check it out right now. We’ll wait.

The interview below covers territory relevant to people who are making a living from their love of plants. I picked Jim’s brain about pursuing a job you love, even when it doesn’t have a name. And about his thoughts on the role of herbalism in modern healthcare. And other stuff, too. He even talks about herbalists versus “supplementologists” (my new favorite word, by the way). And he winds up with some good wishes for all of us, which I think we all need to hear. Repeatedly.

Here’s the audio version of the interview with Dr. Jim Duke

(I have a the audio version of this interview dubbed over a walking tour of his garden on my YouTube channel, but it didn’t turn out that well… I’m sure that has NOTHING to do with my skills as a videographer/editor, of course. Anyway, you can check it out here if you really must. Sorry that the picture is sideways. You’ll have to exercise your neck.)

After our interview, we were in for a special treat. Dr. Duke played us a little tune – “Old Bay” (see the lyrics here)

And after that?

More music. June and I hung around for a while as the sun went down. As the volunteers picked up their tools and wandered back to the garden entrance, Jim’s musician friends started showing up. By the time we left, a full bluegrass band was jamming away. Couldn’t ask for a better afternoon. Or a more awesome grandpapa of herbal medicine.


Next Saturday, September 14th ~ 1 – 5 pm  you can attend this workshop at the garden: Supernatural Sodas, Magical Meads and Local Liqueurs and Ethnobotany. Looks awesome. Details on the GFG Facebook page. 


About Camille Freeman, LDN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for highly-trained herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating.

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