Becoming a herbalist Blog

The Solidarity Apothecary: First-year review

While my website may have only just gone live, I actually started the Solidarity Apothecary in May 2018, sharing news about the project on my Empty Cages Design website.

This post shares my reflections on the first 10 months of the project. I use the action learning framework:

What has been going well?

  • I have supported 32 people this year with plant medicines that I have grown and made (not including close friends and family).
  • I had planned for the Solidarity Apothecary to be a small-scale project that was nourishing and sustainable for me. I knew that with my two jobs, land to care for, several campaign projects and collectives, as well as friends in prison to support that the project had to be small! I wanted it to bring joy to my life and not added stress or responsibility. I am really proud of myself that I have been able to interact with the project in this way!
  • I have made so much medicine – I kept to my pledge of making medicine everyday, there was barely a day in the summer where my dehydrator wasn’t humming or I wasn’t decanting some jar of herbs somewhere.
  • I started my apprenticeship with the School of Plant Medicine so will be able to build my knowledge, skills and confidence.
  • I felt that I communicated my limits – I had several requests for support from people with complex health needs and I referred them to more experienced herbalists beyond where I am at.
  • I think the feeling of being supported and cared about is 90% of the impact of the project. People who had received parcels felt really supported and in a time of repression or hardship, that can mean the world.

What was challenging?

  • The whole year was an absolute shit-show. I had six bereavements in a row, a best friend in a coma, and the ongoing cancer battle with my best friend in prison. It was hard to support my own health through it all, let alone supporting other people.
  • I have had to repeatedly upscale my storage for the apothecary! My room has been a bit of a mess while I build new shelving and spill over onto the floor with jars, packets, spirits and more.
  • Folks really don’t know much about herbalism – I need to improve on the information I can give to people, so that when we talk and I give them a tincture, for example, I can also refer them to a plant profile on my website where they can learn more. It’s clear that popular education around herbalism will be an important part of the apothecary.
  • I’ve mostly been supporting folks within my circles or via the Anarchist Black Cross network, it would be good to branch out more to other people experiencing repression.
  • It is hard to travel internationally with glass bottles, I will definitely need to start buying plastic containers and bottles.
  • I need to develop an improved system where I can track what has been sent and to whom, so that I can learn from my own formulations and also give people refills more easily.
  • I need to create a space on the labels I have designed for instructions for use so folks know how much to take and so forth.
  • I definitely ran out of dried plants! I need to dry more and also need to make more medicines that are not alcohol-based for accessibility purposes.

What are my next steps?

Check out my goals for 2019 to find out! (Coming soon)

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