ERIN DOMAGAL is the founder of Wild Seed Apothecary (WSA) a company that creates natural products that support the wellbeing of our bodies, minds, and spirits. Erin attended the University of New Paltz to study fine art and after graduation, stayed in the Hudson River Valley to support the ecologically sustainable cultivation and conscious use of plants. WSA’s mission is to foster learning about the edible, medicinal, and aesthetic values of plants, and the relationship people have with them. She wild harvests fields and grows her own gardens to craft the balms, tinctures, tonics and teas that make up her apothecary. WSA has something for everyone; my first purchase was a soup-to-nuts camping kit equipped with an all-natural bug repellent and anti-itch balm. My current favorite is her mouth rinse that comes in a perfectly sized cobalt blue bottle that I can throw right in my bag. Unlike other mouth rinses, it doesn't make the insides of your mouth peel away and leaves it with you a pepperminty, non-chemically refreshed feel that doesn't obliterate your tastebuds. Her product listings are thoughtful and smart, not at all overdone or over the top. If you're looking for an easy entry into the world of herbalism, look no further than Wild Seed Apothecary.
What’s your first memory of being crafty?
There was a lot of art making in my house growing up, and certainly a lot of nature-related crafts (my mom was an elementary science teacher). We did a lot of Andy Goldsworthy-esq art, collecting seedpods and arranging rocks and leaves. I remember in second grade making plans to start a “stone business” which involved rubbing rocks together until one was very, very, very smooth. It didn’t really take off, but I still have that first super smooth stone. And Queen Anne’s Lace (QAL) is the first herb I learned the name of as a kid, picking it from the fields that lined our house, fitting of course as its medicine is all about women’s empowerment. I actually still harvest QAL for my work from that same property.
What’s your process? How do you create?
Setting the stage for creating is key. I make a tea or herb-infused seltzer, burn some sage and listen to music, everything from Fiest to Aloe Blac, Modest Mouse to Stevie Wonder. Or, if I need to seriously concentrate, Miles Davis radio on Pandora!
Describe your workspace?
My workspace is multifaceted. I make my products in a certified kitchen space, but spend a lot of time tending to my medicine garden and wild-harvesting in the fields and forests of the Hudson River Valley. However, most of my time is spent in my office, at a table underneath a huge red window overlooking the creek outside my house from which I often watch the birds—including a great blue heron and occasionally a bald eagle!
What do you want people to know about herbalism and Wild Seed Apothecary?
The study and use of plants as food and medicine is an ancient practice that WSA is working to revive in contemporary culture. It’s not an attack on, nor a dismissal of allopathic (western) medicine, rather, a complementary practice for people’s lives. WSA is focused on tonic, nourishing recipes used regularly and seasonally to maintain health and connect people with plants!
Where do you find inspiration?
Nature has always been my primary inspiration—for my art, Wild Seed products, my understanding of how the world works and spirituality.
Can you explain what “wild harvesting” means?
Wild harvesting is the term used to describe picking herbs that grow freely in fields and forests, not cultivated by humans. Sometimes these are native plants and sometimes they are non-native or invasive type species, often they are plants considered to be “weeds” by the general public – St. Johns wort, yarrow, goldenrod, clover, plantain, dandelion, etc. An important piece of this practice is to harvest in a sustainable manner; choosing only plants growing in abundant numbers, not harvesting a majority of what is growing in a specific area so as to not harm the plant population, and to give thanks to the plants, the sun and the soil for their work.
What are you working on for 2016?
Revamping my website to include a shop (instead of just linking to etsy), and adding more info to the energetic and soul-centered parts of the wellness shares and seasonal products is definately top of list. And as always, I want to continue to help people relate to how we heal ourselves in conjunction with herbs.
Tell us about your seasonal shares.
The Seasonal Wellness Shares combine eastern and western herbal philosophy with local herbs to provide a seasonally appropriate medicine chest. The share includes two tinctures, two skin care products, one tea blend, two specialty items, one plant card (hand drawn image with horticultural and medicinal info), and written information regarding the nuances of the season and how to use each herbal product. Many of the products are tonics and work to nourish the body and protect from common ailments of the season. Each product is handcrafted using organic and (mainly) local ingredients.
Where can we find more of your products?
Online at WildSeedApothecary.com or etsy.com/shop/wildseedapothecary. Select products can be found at Rodale’s online organic shop. If you want to catch me in person, I attend farmers markets in Chappaqua, Hastings On Hudson, Irvington, the SOL Market at Water Street Market in New Paltz, the People’s Cauldron in Rosendale, and select specialty markets in NYC and the Hudson Valley—check the calendar on the website for updates!
Thanks for telling us more about yourself and WSA, Erin!