Besides exploring the rich array of aromatics in Madagascar, meeting farmers, harvesters and exporters, my host and I hope to build a small distillation unit with the goal of training local artisans to produce high quality essential oils and direct more of our Western dollars to their communities.

I have been offered the opportunity to spend two weeks working in Madagascar this October. Short notice and an unexpected expense, but full of potential. I will stay with Vanilla farmers, distill an unusual Elemi, and look at creating value added products and direct sales that will benefit harvesters, farmers, and their communities. If I can get myself there.

Carefully veiled around us, is a world of ancestral knowledge and timeless wisdom. Within it we find ancient mysteries, lost sciences and arts, dormant magic and technology both forgotten and yet to be discovered. It is ours to draw from if we so choose.

I want to thank everyone for their generous donations to my work with indigenous harvesters and efforts to establish fair and sustainable trade of resins and other fragrant/medicinal materials. I could not have met and worked with Civet farmers, Somali resin co-op managers or the resin harvesting women of the Samburu tribe without your financial support. This influx was unexpected and heartwarming. Much more than money, I was bolstered by the appreciation and warm moral support for these ventures. It makes me feel like change is possible in our world. That we can all work together to make this a better place for everyone, plants, animals and people. It felt like a net of love that somehow appeared under a crazy idea and a leap of faith. My deepest and most sincere gratitude to you all!

"Samburu women singing" by Wouter van Vliet - Flickr: P1010736. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samburu_women_singing.jpg#/media/File:Samburu_women_singing.jpg

I have just been invited to Northern Kenya to work with the women of the semi-nomadic Pastoralist Samburu tribe with their wildcrafting business and help set up a fair trade platform that will make their lives a little easier, especially through the unpredictable droughts. As it is in many Patriarchal societies, life as a woman is no easy thing. Doing this work has been a dream of mine.

Young Frankincense harvester bringing his daily harvest down from dangerous rocky terrain where the Frankincense Frereana trees grow.

We have become accustomed to a Colonial/Capitalist approach to natural resources. Our western corporations take the precious stuff from poorer countries at the lowest possible price, taking advantage of cheap local labour and poverty, then sell it to us at the highest possible price. This is one reason developing countries are still only developing, and corporations are doing so well. The harvesters of our wild medicinals and aromatics see very little of the money we consumers pay for their resources. I think it’s time for a change.

Plant Medicine- Ancient and Modern As inherently creative beings, we aspire to meet or exceed ourselves in all we do. Part of our joy and satisfaction in any given creative field, is to push the boundaries and bring our work beyond where others have taken it. We are drawn to evolve and grow as individuals […]