“Choose your farmer as your grocery store and your kitchen as your pharmacy” is the theme of visual artist and herbalist June Ellen Bradley’s brainchild — the first Whole Health Nation forum to be held March 3 at Zen in the West End.
According to the Whole Health mission statement, “We envision coming together as a community around plants and gardening, sourcing local farmers to supply fresh and sustainable produce that in turn nurtures the earth, connecting us all in a common unified purpose. We hope to increase our awareness, skill sets of resilience, and define our daily culinary choices in order support abundant life for all people.”
“Part of it is to try to reduce that fear and anxiety and replace it with wonder and awe and how exciting it is that we can grow our own food,” says Bradley, who has been a Greenville resident for about 18 months.
The vision for Whole Health Nation was cultivated from Bradley’s years of experience working with people, plants, agriculture, natural medicine, and other health-empowering practices. The mission is to expand the collective concept of health while supporting local connections in the community, and to educate and develop skills that empower people to live a vibrant, health-filled, and purposeful life.
Bradley’s background consists of serving as assistant to the director of Agricultural Economic Development in Polk County, N.C., for four years, interviewing more than 100 farmers, establishing an online database, installing an edible and medicinal demonstration garden, and teaching workshops at the Mill Springs Agricultural Center.
She also consulted clients in her herbal medicine practice for seven years while living in a community centered on health. The community grows produce for the on-site health food store, local CSAs, and the Polk County Farmers Market. Bradley managed the community’s farmers market booth for five years and served on the board of directors for the Farmers Market for three years, along with various other agriculture and environmental projects through the years.
She also grew up in the household of an anesthesiologist.
“I grew up steeped in the medical community,” she says. “I was dissecting frogs at 8 years old and all this other stuff, but I didn’t know that plantain, which is a common plant that you find everywhere, I didn’t know you put that on a bee sting and it will suck out the poison.”
Bradley hopes that through events like Whole Health Nation, it will start conversations that turn into actions, such as using empty lots for community gardens or growing edible plants as ground cover rather than grass.
Bradley says providing people with more information is key so that growing food and herbs doesn’t seem intimidating.
“We’ve gotten so far removed from it,” Bradley says. “There’s been an intergenerational failure to transfer information for the past generation or two. Since we don’t sit around and snap peas with grandma, it’s foreign.”
On the day of the event, registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and sessions begin at 9 a.m., with the last one at 4 p.m. Session topics during the day include Weeds: Friend or Foe?; Growing & Preparing Ginger and Turmeric; Seed Saving, Culinary Herbs for Healing Meals; Keynote – Emotions, Health, and Eating; Mushrooms for Immunity; Potato Gardening in Containers; The Art and Science of Herbal Tea; and What’s Healthful to Eat in 2018?
Many of the forums are geared toward not only learning how to grow food but also how to use it to fuel and heal the body rather than just for entertainment.
Additionally, Slow Food, a nonprofit organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking, will be holding a seed swap during the day.
“We’re hoping it will start inspiring people to do things like this,” Bradley says.
Wild Earth Botanicals
Red Moon Herbs
Drift Float & Spa
Emerald Moon Magic
Blue Ridge Brinery
Vdovichenko Bee Farms
Langhorne T Webster
S.C. Herbal Society
Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery
Pure on Main
Natural Awakenings magazine