The BC Medicinal Plant & Seed Project

Posted on Wednesday, 8 May 2024 under Stories Featured

As the adage goes, “Food is medicine”. People worldwide have been using plants for centuries to maintain and regain health. Whether these plants are used as food or as supplements to our meals, Indigenous peoples the world over have deep knowledge about specific plants and varieties of those plants regarding their health-improving qualities. Alongside Western medicine, we have practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, naturopaths and clinical herbalists. These practices use raw, unprocessed plant material harvested from specific known cultivars at specific harvest times for optimized nutritional qualities.

When it comes to food, many of us have heightened awareness about the importance of how and where our foods are grown. We want to know that safe environmental practices have been used for the production of our foods, and in most cases, we want them to come from a local source. But what about our herbs? Do we know how they were grown or where they come from?

We have heard from several practitioners that many herbs that were once fairly easy to source are becoming harder to come by, and that the demand for alternative medicine is steadily on the rise. Some of the herbs’ production methods are questionable, and some practitioners would like to be able to source clean and chemical-free herb stock from more local sources. This presents a unique opportunity for BC farmers to fill those gaps.

In response, we are launching a new project, The BC Medicinal Plant & Seed Project. Through this initiative, we plan to study the medicinal herb landscape of BC. We will bring together current and potential herb farmers to share growing knowledge and gather data about which herbs and varieties are best suited to BC’s microclimates. We will also learn the best practices for their production. The hope is to eventually start a seed bank of the best-identified varieties of these plants for farmers and the public to access. We also hope to engage medical practitioners who use raw herbs, especially those interested in sourcing them from local and sustainably managed BC farms.

If you are a farmer, a medical practitioner, a gardener or an herb user interested in this project, we invite you to check out our web page. Please complete our short form to receive communications about the project, including potential ways to become involved.

We will release findings and resources on our web page and invite people to field days we plan to host later in the summer and fall throughout BC.

This is an exciting new endeavour for us, and we are already encouraged by the response we have received about this project. Help us spread the word! If you work with a medical practitioner who might be interested, or know a farmer who already grows some medicinal herbs (or might be interested in learning how to) then please share our project with them.