Down to Earth: Advice for Beginners

Jim Long encourages people to follow their love of herbs wherever it will take them.

| April/May 2001

There are many paths to a career in herbs; what’s important is joy in the journey.

I get wonderful letters from readers, and it’s probably what keeps me writing. To have someone take the time to comment on something I’ve written is priceless. Recently I got a letter from a young woman, nineteen, who identified herself as “reading me” for two years.

“What you do for a living sounds wonderful and I have some questions for you. I am in love with herbalism—the medicines, the lore, the gardening. . .herbs are what I want to do when I grow up. I would like to make medicines, teas, cosmetics. I don’t know what, exactly, and I don’t know how to make the journey—schooling and all. I’d love it if you could help me, as I have all of these ideas, but I don’t know where to start,” she concluded.

Flattered, amazed, delighted—and maybe a bit embarrassed—that my path would be interesting to someone else, I penned this reply:

Dear Melissa,

What a sweet and kind letter. One of the best aspects of writing for a magazine like The Herb Companion is knowing that from time to time, my words influence people in pleasant ways. Thank you!

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