Plants & Farm StoriesFeb 2, 2022

Root values: Our founders’ long-term plan for our land

Our Root Values: Our values are deeply rooted in doing what’s right for community and nature — as farmers, as herbalists, as stewards, as educators and as employers. This article and video series explains our commitment to doing right all the way from our farms to your home.

As Stewards

Our co-founders, Sara Katz and Ed Smith, have always seen Herb Pharm as more than just a company. They felt a keen responsibility to care for the land, in the moment and long into the future. As a manufacturer of herbal products, we use plants and draw on the Earth’s resources, but we also do our best to give back more than we take, in ways that extend beyond our bottom line. Two projects — our sanctuary for at-risk Appalachian herbs and our erosion-control efforts — will have ripple effects that outlive any of us. Sara and Ed saw these projects as a different type of cost of doing business, one that repays Mother Nature. Doing right by the land is part of their legacy and Herb Pharm’s heritage.

More than 25 years ago, fellow herbalist Rosemary Gladstar sounded the alarm that native herbs were under threat in the wild. It was an a-ha moment for many herbalists, Sara and Ed included. When Rosemary founded United Plant Savers, we quickly embraced the nonprofit’s mission, of ensuring these beloved and valuable herbs will be here for generations to come. As a company that uses plants like Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and other Eastern woodland herbs in our products, we felt a deep responsibility to do our part.

That’s how we decided to plant Poplar trees and create a partially shaded area that would provide the ideal habitat for these herbs — most of which are not for commercial use. Eventually this area of the farm became an official UpS Botanical Sanctuary.

We also planted hundreds of trees and shrubs along our creek banks, to keep water temperatures cool and reduce bank erosion. This project, one of the ways we nurture the land we call home, restored habitat for local salmon to successfully deposit their eggs.

These projects helped offset the inevitable impact humans have on the planet (we’re still repairing the impact of humans who came long before us). Over time, we saw that, the more flowering herbs and trees we brought in, the more butterflies and birds arrived on the farm. We saw more animals — both predators and prey. The circle of life continues and we get to bear witness — that’s the beauty of it.

Watch Sara and Ed tell the story: