Growth and Reflection: Experiential Learning at the Gill Tract Medicinal Herb Garden
The Medicinal Herb Garden at the Gill Tract
The medicinal herb garden at the Gill Tract Farm encompasses roughly one third of the property. Dozens of medicinal herbs and plants encompass the space and are labeled with their scientific names, water requirements, temperature requirements, and common uses. These common uses include remedies for digestion, aches, stress, and beyond. The plants are arranged in a concentric pattern that allows for easy navigation and visual appeal. The plot is shaded and offers respite from the East Bay sun and a place of solace for farmers and guests.
Bodily Sovereignty and Self Care
In our most recent visit to the farm Richard Koenig shared his insights about bodily sovereignty and the unique and natural qualities of plants. Richard shared that “All plants are medicine in the right dosage and all plants are poison in the right dosage.” He highlighted the important role that knowledge plays in using plants as natural remedies and shared how non-western cultures have used herbs for healing for generations. Richard lead us in a Tai Chi exercise to harbor energy from the earth in much the same way that plants draw up nutrients and energy from the ground. This exercise left me feeling invigorated, stronger, and connected to the earth. Our group left with a greater understanding about the relationship with plants and our bodily health and spiritual health and their connection.
Meditation with the Plants
The medicinal herb garden offers a place of respite within the Gill Tract Farm. Drawing upon the spiritual aspects of plants, for the remainder of our session with Richard we set off individually to meditate with a particular plant in the garden. Richard instructed each of us to sit with a plant that we felt drawn to for color, size, smell, touch, etc. Richard highlighted the importance of intuitive guidance when meditating in the garden and encouraged us to be with the plant, feel the plant, honor it and consider what emotions, or physical sensations arise. The experience offered a chance to consider the connections between the plants being and our own and challenged us to interact with the being in a non-traditional and non-scientific way. The meditation in the garden left me feeling grounded, thoughtful, and appreciative. The Gill Tract Farm has a unique way of bringing about community through education. Richard has done just that with his medicinal herb garden – sharing a nuanced perspective through understanding and peace.