Why I grow: Herbal remedies with Jackie Dobrinksa

One part education, one part magic: The Functional Herb Garden is an educational garden that allows the public to learn about the medicinal and emotional value of herbs. Photo by Carrie Eidson.
One part education, one part magic: The Functional Herb Garden is an educational garden that allows the public to learn about the medicinal and emotional value of herbs. Photo by Carrie Eidson.

In our new feature, area growers introduce their gardens. This week Jackie Dobrinska tells us about the functional herb garden she founded as part of The Lord’s Acre community garden in Fairview.

Mountain Xpress: Tell us about your garden.
Dobrinksa: Our goal is to empower and nourish members of the community through herbs and herbal education. We do this by growing and distributing free and low-cost functional plants; offering educational opportunities related to their use;  and providing a place where people can connect to the earth and to each other.

The garden started in late winter of 2012 after Susan Sides [executive director of the Lord’s Acre] and I started a conversation about beginning an herb garden. I applied for some grants, and when two were awarded, I realized the garden wanted to come into being.

With the help of many generous hands the garden blossomed. In the coming years we are looking to bridge more partnerships within the community and supply more access to herbs to those in need. Part of the goal is to work with schools, women’s shelters and other community groups.

What do you grow?
We focus on local, abundant medicinal herbs that are safe and effective at promoting health, and are self-sustaining.

Imagine all plants falling along a spectrum: On one side of the spectrum is food and on the other are toxins. In the middle are medicinals. We focus on the side of the spectrum between food and medicinals — spices, tonics and medicines that most people can use.

Some plant allies that live in the garden include echinacea, chamomile, holy basil, calendula and ashwaganda to name a few.

Plant allies: The functional herb garden teaches the public how to use herbs for common aliments and approach healing holistically, says Dobrinska. “It feels so empowering to be able to heal without the use of synthetic substances. These plants are our allies, helping us to come back into balance.” Photo courtesy of Jackie Dobrinksa.

 

Why is this your passion?
Herbs are “the people’s medicine” and are so empowering. When I get a cold, sting, cut, infection, bellyache or other ailment, instead of going to a drugstore I first go to my herbal medicine chest.

The garden is a place people can go to get their hands into the dirt and be transformed, even while they are helping others to transform. Our garden is one part magic, one part service, one part transformation and one part empowerment.

How can I get involved with the herbal garden?
The Lord’s Acre (and the herbal garden) has a garden workday every week from spring until fall — 6 p.m.  to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. You can learn more at thelordsacre.org.

This year, we will have two plant adoption days to continue to fill out the herb garden. The first of these will be held on April 26 from noon to 4 p.m. If you have herbal splits or starts you would like to donate, contact me a jldobrinska@gmail.com.

What are some techniques you recommend for people wanting to start an herb garden at home?
Go into your yard and look around. There are a lot of plants there that you might consider weeds that actually have tremendous medicinal value. Learn about them, make them your ally. It starts by making plants your friend, building a relationship with them, and bringing them into your life.

Jackie Dobrinska is a yoga therapist, author, health educator and outreach coordinator for Red Moon Herbs. For more information on the functional herb garden, contact Jackie via jldobrinska@gmail.com or asimplevibrantlife.com.

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About Carrie Eidson
Carrie Eidson is a multimedia journalist and editor at Mountain Xpress. She can be reached at ceidson@mountainx.com.

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