| 2014 Q2 | story by LIZ WESLANDER | photos by STEVEN HERTZOG |
Sometimes, farming is just about following your bliss. This is certainly the case for Audrey Klopper, owner and operator of Blessed Thistle Farm.
Audrey specializes in medicinal herbs and grows more than 50 varieties in her circular garden near McClouth.
“I don’t plant in straight rows,” says Audrey “My garden is sort of like a mandala. I’m an artist, so my garden is my artwork in the summer.”
Audrey also forages a number of medicinal herbs – including ginseng, burdock root, and mullein – from the 10 acres of forest that surround her home. She uses the herbs she grows and gathers to make medicinal liquids called tinctures, which she sells at the Lawrence Farmers Market and The Merc Co-op.
Audrey says that when she founded Blessed Thistle Farm in 2007, medicinal herbs were not in high demand.
“I’m not a very competitive person,” says Audrey. “I just felt herbs were my niche. People used to have no idea what I was selling, but now the interest is growing and a lot of people stop to look.”
The process of making a tincture involves placing harvested herbs in alcohol, which extracts their medicinal qualities. Audrey says the herbs stay in the alcohol for an extended period, where they “age like a fine wine.” After pressing and straining, the tinctures are bottled in small amber bottles that are equipped with eyedroppers. Audrey’s tinctures address a variety of issues including immunity, allergies, insomnia and women’s issues. People typically add tinctures to water or tea, or simply swallow them straight.
Audrey first began learning about medicinal herbs from Native American healers while living in the mountains of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico more than 20 years ago, and has continued to study herbalism through reading, listening to others and simply observing the plants.
“I believe the plants speak to us,” says Audrey. “I learn a lot from being around the plants.”
Audrey, who is also an art therapist, says her 16 year-old son helps her with the work at Blessed Thistle Farm, but that she is also looking for an apprentice.