How The Essential Herbal Came to Be

I often think of the magazine as my own version of what used to be called a “change of life baby.”  Menopause is nothing to scoff at and I scoffed.  Everything was a mess, and I was basically starting over again with a fulltime job and a very patient pre-teen.  Funds were non-existent… so I’m proud of how it happened.

Writing had always been my thing, so I decided to put the word out that I was starting a newsletter and asking for articles and starting subscriptions.  It seemed like there was a need for a down-to-earth source for everyday herbalists and enthusiasts to share and receive information, instructions, and recipes, and it was going to be in print.  Each issue would have at least a taste of all the ways to experience herbs – medicinal, culinary, fragrant, decorative, bath/body, and foraging.  We don’t always make it, but that’s the goal.

As luck would have it, I was working at a printing shop.   I learned to use every machine needed to print and bind the magazine myself, after hours.  Unfortunately, my word-processing skills were nil, and that meant that I literally cut and pasted the articles after printing them out.  There was no affordable digital camera back then, but there were some pretty fancy copiers at work, and they helped a lot.  I haunted the stock room, keeping an eye out for leftover cover stock in attractive colors or patterns, and when the magazine was finished, I weighed them and shaved all three open edges to lower mailing costs.

For the first 3 or 4 years, it was pretty tough finding ways to get the word out.  Building a website alone during a snowbound Christmas week in 2003 was a “treat” I’ll never forget.  The internet was still pretty young, but there were some groups and forums out there.  I got up a couple hours early every day before work to find places to get that URL in front of people.

Eventually Maryanne took note of what a struggle the layout of the magazine was for me, and since she’s got an art background, she actually enjoys it.   She, Molly and I would sit on the living room floor surrounded by magazines, stacks of address labels, and mail sacks, chatting and prepping the mail every other month.  Nowadays mailings are done at the printer (whew!)

Along the way, wonderful people have wandered in and out of the pages and my life.  Some have just stopped by while others stay.  It’s a little bit like a long, long, open house party.  There are no people as much fun or as warmly nourishing as herb people.  I couldn’t have done anything without the generosity and love from talented and knowledgeable friends – and strangers.   It wasn’t easy by a long shot, but I wouldn’t change anything.

By the way, we offer a 10% discount on everything except wholesale and advertising for the students of The Arts and Science of Herbalism!  Use the code RosemaryStudent
on our website –