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One of my dreams is to visit gardens, sanctuaries, farms dedicated to sustainable food and wildlife management. To share with others the wonderful, careful work being done to preserve and propagate plant species in thoughtful ways and to write about it. In May I enjoyed my visit to The Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary in Floyd VA. In June I wanted to head to Ohio and visit The UpS Botanical Sanctuary. I will be devoting several blogs to this adventure ones that I hope you will enjoy.

United Plant Savers is a grass roots organization dedicated to the conservation and cultivation of native North American medicinal plants. UpS, as we refer to it, has been a voice for plant stewardship and sustainable harvesting practices, especially important today with increased demands for many medicinal species. The question remains: Can we protect our resources and still meet these increasing demands?

UpS maintains a botanical sanctuary in Rutland Ohio. I had the privilege and joy of finally traveling to this place I have read and heard about in the herbal programs I have attended over the years. When I teach my “Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Nutritional Self Care” class at the university we do a section on western medicinal plants. I encourage students to consider supporting an organization such as UpS if they choose to consume herbs for their health. Small contributions by many of us go a long way to support the Sanctuary’s efforts. Plus UpS offers a plant sale in the spring and goldenseal, ( more about goldenseal later) an at risk plant, is often offered to members at an affordable price.

The Sanctuary offers two 4-6 week internship programs, one in spring and one in fall. Interns learn plant propagation, general farm up-keep, and medicinal plant identification, sustainable wild harvesting principles, medicine making and trail building. What caught my attention is the notion of a “Talking Forest” I wanted to see for myself this idea applied to a hiking trail.

I spoke with Chip Carroll, intern manager and confirmed dates. The Summer solstice seemed like an ideal time to spend a few days in this forest.

Bags packed, GPS routed I left my neck of the woods early in the morning. Mist and haze blocked the first rays of sun. By the time I headed west towards the Blue ridge Mountains the sun broke  through the cloudy mist  and the views were breathtaking.

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