WORDS: Nicole Stanton
IMAGE: Rachel Eva Lim
Since the arrival of autumn I’ve started each morning with a spoonful of deep red syrup, sweet with elderberry and honey. Elder-Boost syrup, made by Dynamic Roots, is stewed with Astragalus root and Rose Hips, both promising to ward off the illness that so often comes with the change of seasons. Products like this totally luscious syrup intrigue me. What a thought. Keep the illnesses that weaken my body at bay, instead of waiting for the inevitable with antibiotics in one hand and ibuprofen in the other. In Loam’s recent interview with Dynamic Roots, the maker of my new favorite remedy, they emphasized the importance of, yes, this preventative medicine I find so enticing. However, the brilliant women behind this herbal product line have a mission profound in its breadth and thoughtfulness.
I sat down with two of the three Dynamic Roots team members, on a cloudy September day in a nook of the Basalt Library. We sat just a block away from the Basalt Food Garden, where I first learned of Dynamic Roots. Stephanie, a co-founder of Dynamic Roots, also runs the food garden. It became instantly clear that both Stephanie and Dawne are experts in more fields than one. Around our small table littered with fire cider ingredients and dried Moringa seeds, I was doused with knowledge about herbalism, motherhood, teaching, medicine, community building, and on it goes.
Dynamic Roots is a female-run, herbal product line who also operate a Community Sustained Herbalism (CSH) founded in 2013. They are one of the twelve CSHs around the country. CSHs are modeled after the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model -- one that supports herbalists before and through the growing season. Dynamic Roots’ customers sign up for an herbal share that is anywhere from one season to a year in length. Every season the three Dynamic Roots women pack up boxes full of six seasonal remedies, herbal elixirs, salves, and lip balms. All the products are made with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, hand-grown and handcrafted by the Dynamic Roots women, and support customers’ health through the seasons. They can package an astounding 200 of these boxes, four times a year. Oh, and between the three of them they mothers, community activists, gardeners, radio show hosts, and now business women.
Before Dynamic Roots grew into its current size and shape, it started with teaching, still a key component to their work. Steph and Dawne met each other while working at a local permaculture greenhouse. “Finding each other was the perfect balance,” says Steph. “We both were committed to the idea of teaching people to take control of their health. We started teaching community workshops, and our combination of knowledge sets was the catalyst for starting an herb company.” Their goal was and still is the empowerment of their community to be responsible for their own health.
Their work is founded on principles of which I knew little. I eventually got up the courage to ask what “bioregional herbalism” was -- a term endlessly peppered throughout our conversation. Dawne explained it beautifully, “Well, it’s the idea that sickness and health originate in the same place. One’s health is therefore closely linked to the natural resources available in their local area.” In the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado, for example, both plants and humans must adapt to drought, cold winters, and extreme sunshine. Thus, how logical it seems that the very mechanisms that keep plants vital could be used for human vitality. Our mechanisms for survival may not just be in our technologically advanced solutions, but in local, plant-based prevention. Another limb of their philosophy is “biodynamic growing.” Steph helped me out with this one. The idea itself is sourced from the founder of the Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamic growing is a farming practice that treats the whole farm as one living organism. All pieces of the farm are connected, each feeding one another, ideally becoming a closed loop, meaning that the farm produces its own means for survival. The farmer, as well, becomes a part of this loop -- nurturing growth and in turn being nurtured by the fruits of their labor. Biodynamic growers also operate on the lunar cycle, using a Biodynamic calendar like Maria Thun or Stella Natura calendar to forecast the most optimal planting and harvesting times.
What was so moving about Stephanie and Dawne is that they insist on making their knowledge accessible to their community. Dawne explained how medicinal security and empowerment are all tied into their mission to educate. Their workshop, “Seed to Skin,” is intended to give people the tools the needed to grow their own resources, make their own remedies, and tend to their own bodies -- closing the loop.
Dynamic Roots is achieving just what their name suggests. They have found an innovative model for connecting people to their local environments, both physically and spiritually. Dynamic Roots finds its rootedness in the traditions of Western Herbalism, while exploring the ever-changing relationship between humans and the natural world.
Interested in learning more? Or becoming a member of the Dynamic Roots CSH? Look to their website: www.dynamicroots.com.
Stay tuned for Dynamic Roots' Fire Cider Recipe.