Get to Know Your Farmer: Nancy Graden
I grew up on a small 17 acre farm in Southern Indiana with a running creek, forested hills and two big gardens. Playing indoors was something we rarely did or even thought about doing. It was just natural to want to be out of doors. My younger brother and I spent most of our time in the woods, climbing trees, jumping from rock to rock in the creek, looking for crawl dads and exploring the world of nature around us. We raised most of our own fruits, vegetables and meats. We kept sheep, chickens, one annual cow and rabbits. One of my chores was picking clover for the rabbits to eat. The Red clover flower was the very first herb I remember eating. No one told me to do this, it just seemed natural to pop those subtly sweet pinkish-red flowers into my mouth.
My interest in plants as medicine began over 30 years ago while living in the Ozark Mountains. I was fifteen miles and five cattle crossings away from my mailbox. Electricity was five miles away. This is where I met and became friends with one-hundred year old Mamaw Calhoon. She gifted me with my very first book on herbs. This began my informal study of medicinal plants and exploring their use for my own personal health and well being. The Ozark Mountains were an untamed place to live in many ways. The ruggedness of the place kept most people out, so the flora and fauna were still wildly intact. The Dogwood trees dotted the landscape in the spring and Wild Ginseng grew on the shaded north facing slopes of the creek. After leaving the Ozark Mountains and returning to Minneapolis, I studied therapeutic massage and had a thriving practice for 26 years. During that time I studied herbalism at Australasian College of Health Sciences, Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Minnesota (along with art) and received my associates degree in ‘Western Clinical Herbalism’ from Minneapolis Community College. In 2009 I started my herbal practice. What I enjoy most is hanging out with the plants in their native environment.