Rosemary Gladstar Receives First-Annual ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award
The American Botanical Council (ABC) has announced that its first Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award will be given to Rosemary Gladstar, the renowned herbalist, teacher, and author known to many as the Godmother of American Herbalism. Among her many accomplishments and efforts that have helped grow a rich herbal community in the United States, Gladstar founded several schools of herbal education, founded and organizes annual herbal conferences, leads international herb-focused journeys, and has authored or coauthored about a dozen books on topics ranging from herbal medicine recipes to medicinal plant conservation.
“I know of no other herbalist who has done more to create a sense of relationship, community, and identity among herbalists and others with a strong interest in herbs and herbal healing than Rosemary,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “Her energy, enthusiasm, passion, creativity, love, and generous spirit are bountiful and contagious. There is no one like her."
Gladstar, the daughter of Armenian immigrants, first learned plant medicine during informal garden walks with her grandmother, Mary Abelian Egitkanoff. She was instantly interested in the plant world, which was apparent in the middle school projects she chose to do on medicinal herbs. In the early 1970s, Gladstar opened her own herb shop, Rosemary’s Garden, in Sonoma County, California. Then, in 1974, she co-founded the tea company Traditional Medicinals with Drake Sadler and created many of the teas’ original formulations, including the popular Smooth Move®, Throat Coat®, and Mother’s Milk®. In 1978, she founded the California School of Herbal Studies (CSHS), which is still in operation today as the country’s oldest herbal school. In the following years, she founded the Breitenbush Herbal Conference, the International Herb Symposium, and the New England Women’s Herbal Conference — the latter two of which she still directs.
“In those early days,” said Gladstar, “when herbalism and herbalists were first peeking up from ‘underground’—where they had rested quite contentedly, it seems to me, for a number of decades — there really wasn’t very much going on herbally at all. We were rather isolated; there weren’t newsletters, gatherings, or schools that I know of in the US that served to bring us together. [So,] these early gatherings were revolutionary, really, and had a lot to do, I think, with nourishing and creating an herbal community. When I look at plant communities, they thrive together. The greater the diversity in the garden (or meadow or woodland), the better the health of the community. And it’s certainly true of herbalists, as well.”
In the 1980s, Gladstar created Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center, a 500-acre botanical sanctuary in Vermont where she currently lives and hosts educational events and programs. Additionally, she runs her commended herbal home-study course, “The Science & Art of Herbology,” and has been leading the internationally focused Plant Lovers Journeys since 1986. Gladstar’s several books on herbs — including Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal, and the 2012 Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide—regularly sell well and receive glowing reviews from her herbal peers and loyal readers. The United Plant Savers, which Gladstar founded in 1994, remains the project that she is most passionate about due to its focus on preserving and conserving native North American medicinal plants and their habitats from unsustainable wild-collection. She continues to serve on the group’s Board of Directors as founding president.
“For Rosemary, the linking of herbs to humans is only a mechanism for people to bring awareness to Mother Earth from whom we all originate,” said ABC Board of Trustees President Steven Foster. “Rosemary laid the foundation for the rise of traditional herbalism, which has blossomed into touching the hearts of and teaching tens of thousands of people. Small gatherings of a couple dozen folks of like mind grew into international conferences, symposia, classes, and retreats that were key to the rise of two generations of practicing herbalists in the modern herbal renaissance.”
“Rosemary Gladstar introduced herbalists to each other, and to the world,” said fellow herbalist Cascade Anderson Geller. “She gave herbalism a face, approachable and lovable. She gave a big leg up to herbalists of current renown, helping them to achieve success and grow their reputations. [She also] is a brilliant business woman. All of her businesses, even when she has moved on, continue to flourish in some form. To achieve such success, and to be so well loved by colleagues and students alike, is remarkable. Her trustworthiness shines because it is legitimate emanating from an open heart and mind with roots entwined deep in Mother Earth. By walking her talk, Rosemary’s achieved incredible energy that she has generously shared.”
Ever humble and modest, Gladstar gives much credit to her herbal peers. “We help each other grow,” she said, “either by pushing, pulling, encouraging, tugging, or just pure nourishing love. At this point in time, the herbal community is really comprised of many communities, all interlinking through our love of plants. But as extraordinary as the plants that bring us together and unite us as an herbal community, are the people who love plants. They are an amazing group of diverse, bright, eccentric, talented, and amazing individuals. I count my lucky stars to be amongst them… Again, I am humbled and honored by this award.”
Although she is unable to be present in person due to a prior commitment, Gladstar will accept the Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award via pre-recorded video at the 8th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony in March in Anaheim, California. The ABC event occurs during the annual Nutracon conference and Natural Products Expo West.