Virtual Discussion with Joe Hollis on Chinese Medicinal Herbs
Time & Location
About the Event
For the past 25 years, Joe Hollis has been engaged in developing a Paradise Garden on several acres of mountain woodland in western N. Carolina.
For Joe, Paradise Garden is both a place to live and a way to live, and, above all ‘visionary ecological theater.’
Almost from the beginning, an aspect of this project has been the botanical garden of useful plants in accordance with one possible definition of Paradise: a garden in which everything you need is there for the taking.
An extensive research project was undertaken to identify the thousand ‘most useful’ plants which might grow in this bioregion.
Originally, ‘medicinal’ was just another category of useful plants to Joe; but starting about ten years ago it became increasingly obvious that there was a crying need for medicinal plant nurseries in this country and that, based on his collection and Mountain Gardens location, it was an obvious candidate for the job, so he began to make medicinal herbs a specialty.
About the same time, Joe also became interested in Chinese herbs, as a result of a chance encounter with the book Chinese Tonic Herbs (Ron Teeguarden), which alerted him both to the existence of a category of health-promoting herbs, and to their long association with Taoism. These seemed obvious candidates for the Paradise Garden, and Joe began ordering the herbs and acquiring and learning to grow the plants.
Joe’s interest quickly expanded to other categories of Chinese herbs. He now grows about 500 species, and stocks about 300 dried, imported Chinese herb . Several years later, Joe became aware of increasing interest in fresh medicinal herbs. Since he had by then quite a large collection of medicinal herbs in the garden, and was already wildcrafting medicinals for seed, this seemed again an obvious direction. Joe began preparing tinctures for personal use, and acquiring information, texts, and apparatus. He now prepares over a hundred tinctures, mostly from fresh garden or native herbs.
Some of these are individually bottled and labeled for sale; but Joe shies away from getting into the tincture business. He is more interested in providing a service and a facility for persons who want to heal themselves with plants, and in trying to develop a model for a garden/pharmacy to serve the needs of a local area.
The garden continues to generate projects. Joe offers a series of workshops, plant walks, garden tours and other events; and the seed business wants to turn into a nursery, offering plants, rooted cuttings, dormant roots, etc. of those species which are difficult from seed; and he would like to dry more of his own herbs (they are so much more vibrant than what is on the market), and to offer fresh herbs harvested on-demand…
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