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  • Jennifer Jewell


Clare Foster and Sabina Rüber. Photo ©Eva Nemeth, all rights reserved.


The Herb Pharm is committed to educating about safe and effective herbalism. Based in Williams, Oregon, their work includes an extensive medicinal herbal display garden. Sayaka Lean is head gardener at the Herb Pharm, and now in the fullness of winter, she joins us this week. to share more about her own garden life journey and work at The Herb Pharm.

Sayaka is a Japanese-born horticulturist and gardener. She is a lead gardener at the Herb Pharm in southern Oregon. The Herb Pharm, creators of a wide array of organic, cultivated and ethically made herbal products, believe that their work can inspire more love for plants and respect for Nature, and that it will improve the health, happiness and harmony of the Earth and all of its people.

Founded in the 1970s by Ed Smith and Sara Katz, the working production farm based in Williams Oregon is also the home to an extensive public herbal display garden – featuring over 500 native and non-native herbal plants. Known as the Botanical Education Garden, where Sayaka is the lead gardener, has ongoing research and conservation collaborations with United Plant Savers, whose mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitats while ensuring an abundant ethical and renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. They are also a flagship farm for the Oregon Bee Project and Atlas out of Oregon State University, working to study and thereby protect the native bees of Oregon.

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Sayaka, with her own deep roots in Japanese culture and the nature based traditions of Shintoism, facilitates public engagement in the display garden at The Herb Pharm and she joined me earlier this season to share more from her home and garden in southern Oregon.

You can follow Sayaka and The Herb Pharm's medicinal herbal work and garden life journey on line at:, on Instagram @herbpharm/, and Sayaka @dearnaturalist, where you can follow her new podcast!

Join us again next week when our last episode of 2020 sends us into 2021 on a more muscular note in conversation with Richmond Virginia based Duron Chavis – a leading and voice in the next generation and importance of urban agriculture. Listen in next week!





This episode airs in a big 2 weeks in our seasonal, planetary, and cultural calendar year. The solstice on Monday the 21st, the appearance of Jupiter and Saturn side by side in the night sky – so close they appear as one bright Winter or Christmas Star, Christmas Eve, Christmas on the 25th, Kwanza on the 26th, and by Tuesday the 29th, the final full moon of the year and the New Year itself.

It is now winter here in the northern hemisphere. It is time to settle down, slow down, and in this dark, dreamy, resting and reflective liminal time – we are called as people and gardeners to listen to and tend to our roots.

Towards the end of my conversation with Sayaka, as she thinks back on her own childhood and the Japanese culture infused with the reverence for and belief in Nature itself of Shintoism, Sayaka expresses how her love of gardening and plants “comes deeply from her roots”. This statement stayed with me brightly, and it recalled the moment of epiphany that Amber Tamm shared with us last week when working as a farmer in Hawaii, she was encouraged and called by the work of Indigenous cultural repair and restoration and renaissance in the wake of the destruction these past many years of colonialism and extractive capitalism, and she knew she had to return home to Brooklyn to start this work not for the Hawaiian people, but for her in own people in the place of her own roots. Her work at this deepest level needed to start with her own roots, and her own people.

These two insights land directly on my heart. Our best work, our deepest most appropriate work starts in our roots, in our own homes, with our own people, whomsoever and however diverse this concept manifests for you, and it radiates out most healthfully and integrally from there.

For me my roots and my people are gardeners everywhere. Caring, tending, thoughtful and in deep relationship with their places and all the beings of their places – gardeners – you – are my people.

We can start right there.

In this rooting time of winter here - in this dark, dreamy, resting and reflective liminal time –called to listen to and tend to our roots – on the foundation of cared for healthy roots - think what progress for all we can cultivate in our places - together in this next circle round the sun?

Happy winter gardeners.


All photos used courtesy The Herb Pharm.




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