Take a walk on Blessed Thistle Farm in eastern Kansas and you’ll find a land covered by herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruits. Audrey Klopper, herbalist and owner of Blessed Thistle Farms, grows medicinal herbs and prepares tinctures for a host of ailments.
Klopper founded Blessed Thistle Farm in 2007, and since then, she has seen a growing demand for locally sourced herbs in her area. She sells her salves and tinctures at The Community Mercantile and farmers’ market in Lawrence, Kansas.
“I don’t know if it’s the economy or if people are just starting to take healing into their own hands. But when I first started at the farmers’ market, people had no idea what I was selling,” Klopper says. “It has changed a lot since then. People understand or are learning about the medicinal use of herbs and they’re not just giving the doctors all the power anymore.”
In late spring of this year, Klopper was selling plenty of her immune-enhancing tinctures, such as ashwaganda root and echinacea.
“The season’s been so strange in Kansas,” she says. “It has been so damp and cold, so a lot of people having respiratory problems are buying my immune-enhancing formulas.”
Buying locally grown herbs is a great option for health-conscious consumers. Dana Berge, an urban farmer in Berkeley, California, says culinary and medicinal herbs shipped overseas lose much of their potency by the time they make it onto the shelves of your local grocery or health-food store. “It’s not the same when it’s wrapped in plastic and sent overseas,” Berge says. “I think people often forget that plants were alive. The fresher they are, the more medicinal value you get from the herb.”
Buying herbs grown in the United States (or better yet, locally) reduces fossil fuel consumption and gives farmers another crop they can grow organically, says Mercy Yule, licensed acupuncturist and former chair of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance herb committee.
Nina Libby is an intern at The Herb Companion.