As many of you know, I have been spending most of my time this summer tending my little patch of plants and working on restoring a more balanced ratio of native to non-native plants on our property.
I have been thinking a lot about the power of language; whether that’s the appropriative language a lot of herbalists use — hi, really, what is your relationship to Ayurvedic medicine?; the inclusionary language of intentional, intersectional communities for BIPOC medicine makers; or, the pragmatic language we use to describe spaces, places, and stuff.
I have been struggling to figure out how to call what I am doing. Herbalism is a thing, but it’s a thing that chafes. The idea of having a body of knowledge that originates from my people packaged and sold back to me as something new is…troubling. (I have much to learn, that part IS new, it’s the packaging that chafes.)
In my studies I am finding BIPOC medicine makers who continually reflect on how alienating and strange it is to have to use a label at all. Like, at some point in our own histories we simply would have been living, as black indigenous folk, because to live is to make medicine, to tend to your people.
Do I want to be called an herbalist (one day?), a medicine maker? No idea, I think for now we’ll just stick with calling me shiny.
I do believe in the power of names and the ritual of naming. Many of you have been bringing me animals, objects, and other such for years and saying “What is its name? I’m not hearing it,” and I say things like, “Sabine. This bicycle’s name is Sabine. Duh.”
I have also been absorbing a lot of content from urban farmers. Greg Peterson’s Urban Farm podcast really shook up my understanding of the idea of farming and what a farm is. Greg makes the case that if you are growing things and sharing them, nourishing people with things you grow, you are farming; you have a farm. In fact, he’s on sort of a call to arms to get people to call what they do farming so as to demystify and bring more intersectionality to urban farming.
That part feels really good to me and uncomplicated, aside from some pangs of impostor syndrome. (I mean, we have “real” farm pals in our midst, it’s hard not to feel doubt.)
So, after all of that rambling… I’m pleased to tell you that I renamed our property to Scrapberry Farm and it feels really good.
Folks who have been following my alchemical adventures for years may recall that my first ever winemaking attempt involved fighting an incredibly surly old lady for a flat of berries at the Kruger farm stand. Like, she kept trying to steal the berries from me and I wasn’t having it. I was prepared to scrap.
I was scrappy. The berries were scrappy. They made AWFUL wine. Well, I made awful wine out of them, which became awful scrapberry vinegar, which became a potent and highly effective weed killer for a while.
So yeah. Me and Chris live at Scrapberry Farm, where I grow things and make things, like food and medicine and booze.