The Apothecarian and Land Steward: Dana Eudy
March 24, 2016
From the moment I met Dana, long ago in NYC, I knew she was destined to make a difference. She is the embodiment of my kind of Girl Crush… she had a vision, sent it to the universe, jumped, and POOF! Her dream came true. Of course, there was a lot of hard work before the POOF part happened, but it DID happen!
(This is why I share stories about what women do; to provide a platform where we can find inspiration from each other, to encourage change, and to prove that our epiphanies can become a reality.)
And now, some motivational bullet points from this story: don’t ignore epiphanies, warm water is a wonder drug, soap in private parts only, oils are more nourishing than soap, glass jars only, mindfully raised foods + herbs = health, herbs “potenize” food with superpowers.
Get ready to become empowered…
where are you from?
My birthplace is San Antonio Texas and I was schooled at University of Texas at Austin where I studied Communications. I spent many formative years in Willamsburg and Gowanus Brooklyn working in Photography & Advertising. Currently I call the Hudson Valley, in upstate NY, home. Germantown to be exact. It is very Normam Rockwell. I put it out there to the universe and came up with a wish list of wants that included a pond and the ability to walk to a small grocery store. Talk about setting intention – the only thing I absentmindedly left off my list was a fireplace. Otherwise, all the items I had listed were granted as if I had my very own genie in a bottle.
I left NYC almost 5 years ago drawn to the desire to raise my kids closer to nature and inspired to develop my intuitive self. I consider myself very fortunate to live where I am. I often tell others I won the community lottery. Our community is quite eclectic since we have such close proximity to NYC. It is a great place to inspire and be inspired.
what do you do?
I am an apothecarian and land steward at field apothecary & herb farm. I tend to 1 1/2 acres of land growing medicinal herbs and making herbal remedies. At the field, each season (Spring, Summer, Winter & Fall) I prepare a wellness box that is available to help others get more acquainted with herbs. I am very clear on being on borrowed time with this land. I don’t “own” the land in the sense that I’m not taking it with me when I leave this current body. My responsibility to the land (and mother nature in general) is to improve it from how I first found it.
My vision and goals are to help others transform their medicine chest like they have done with their food pantries. I want to see others getting more comfortable with using herbs in their daily practice. There is so much health & preventative medicine that can be done in the home to help our overburdened medical system. And growing your own or knowing where your herbs are coming from is key.
how did you get into farming herbs?
I was experiencing a lot of burn out and anxiety living in NYC. I had two children, was working incredibly long hours as a photographer agent, studying homeopathy & herbalism nights and weekends – basically trying to be wonder woman. I had an epiphany “life is short. Do I really only want to do one thing for the rest of my life?” I was growing as many herbs as I could in our backyard in Gowanus. The only downfall was that our backyard was the only one with any sort of living turf (which we brought in I might add since the canal is known for being so toxic and we had grave concerns over the soil conditions). We attracted all the “pests” b/c the environment was pretty out of balance. You know the saying concrete jungle. I was making all sorts of teas and noticing my family wasn’t ever getting sick. I was very aware that the majority of herbs on the market where coming from overseas and realized the importance of locally grown herbs just as we have locally grown food. I saw the farming of herbs as a necessity. I wanted to create a space for others to experience what herbs have to offer.
what’s a typical day like?
Seasons are actually different for me much more so than my days. Spring and summer are full of energy and intensity. In fall I get to start thinking about slowing down a bit, and winter is about going inward and planning. I love living seasonally as hard as it is in the modern world. I also notice my diet changes. Heavier foods in the winter lots of soups and warm bread with butter. Summer is full of salads and eating a bit less.
I like to get up before anyone else in the house. I typically start my day with a cup of warm water and tinctures ranging from our clear thinking, adrenal support and digestive bitters. Warm water is truly a wonder drug if there ever was one. Something so simple yet so life transforming. I do a bit of kundalini yoga and meditation. When I shower part of my routine is abyhanga (special thanks to my ayurvedic practioner Cynthia king of 5element spa) which is an ayurvedic self care body massage which i do alongside “dry brushing” prior to showering. I use soap only in private parts as it tends to be drying. Oils are much more nourishing for our skin. In the winter I prefer to use sesame oil for its warming benefits (glass jars only ladies!) infused with essential oils, and in the summer I switch to coconut or grape seed oil (used when it is in its liquid form and more cooling) I like to be in bed by 10:00 – 9:00 is really dreamy if I can swing it.
was it scary changing careers?
For sure! Over time I have learned though that the universe really has our best interests in mind. And sometimes we just have to jump. It is easy to get caught up in stuckness and fear. The more we believe and have faith, the more space we create for dreams and miracles to happen. I loved my job and former life. I miss the people I got to work with – farming can be isolating and lonely at times. I am lucky because we have a lot of volunteers that want to come and spend time working in the healing gardens though. It is fascinating to watch the field take on a life of its own.
To be totally transparent – I still do some freelance work in photo with certain special talent who I adore (Vincent Laforet and is ever amazing Air series) – It keeps me farming! Someone once asked me, “if you won the lottery, what would you do?” I was so happy someone forced me to think about this. In the answer of this question, we can find what our passions truly are. I am fortunate and blessed to be able to say that the answer is; what I am doing now (only then, i would be able to give the medicine away freely).
what was happening around the dinner table when you were a kid?
My mom and I ate home cooked meals every night together. It is something that we continue to do in my own home today. My husband is particularly talented in the kitchen. We have a hard time going out to dinner b/c often what we make at home exceeds what we are able to find when we go out. Mindfully raised food cooked with herbs are the seat to health. If you have this foundation – chances are medicines are unnecessary. Herbs “potentize” food, giving them superpowers, and who doesn’t want super powers?
what happens around the dinner table now?
My kids request tea all the time. They understand it is part of our daily routine. My children know so much more about herbs than I did even up until the point of having kids. They can identify and know what herbs are used for. I want them to have these skills and let them be second nature for them. Being able to take care of oneself is so empowering. In the summer we eat a lot of meals outdoors and in the winter our wood stove is on and it is in our kitchen. My kids are pretty active participants in our kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of our home. We could practically live in this one room if we had to. When we designed our kitchen, I wanted it to have the feeling of bringing the outside in and the inside out. I guess you could say my goal is to spend time with nature. Nature is where true healing and wisdom occur.
who were your role models growing-up?
Growing up I would have to say Frida Kahlo and Madonna and Anais Nin. Some of my role models today would be Patti Smith and Vandana Shiva (I was lucky enough to go to her farm, Navdanya) in India this past winter. I have always had a bit of a pioneering spirit.
what would you do if you could spend time in any era?
I think I would have to say working with a medicine (wo)man in a tribal village. I still hope that somehow I might be able to do this post kids living in my house. I’d like to find a remote place where this traditional form of healing is still be utilized and do some sort of understudy. I would have like to have walked these lands with the native American Indians. Communal living in this way seems to make so much more sense to me. I also think we’ve lost so much of our connection to nature and ritual. Personally, I have found that answers come when we are able to be more present in our natural world.
who are your favorite artists?
No doubt Cy Twombly whom my son is named after, Francis Allis, Francis Bacon (see a trend here!?) Louis Bourgeois, William Kentridge and Peter Doig – I could go on and on here but I will stop with these
what is your other dream job?
I think part of my dharma or life’s work is helping others. I certainly did that when I worked in photo and I like to think it is a large part of my work today at the field. I think sharing cultures in a non traditional way some sort of herbal travel tour guide is hopefully also in the cards at some point. I love to host others!