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183. Urban Gardening the 1849 Medicine Garden | Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis | Bonnie Rose Weaver | San Francisco, CA
8th July 2017 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:56:07

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Another Rockstar Millennial here to tell help educate people about caring for our environment! From 1849 Medicine Garden Bonnie Rose Weaver is here to share her story! She’s written a book called Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis which I know many green future growers will be interested in!

During the first three years, we grew over fifty western medicinal herbs in 1/16th of an acre in San Francisco, CA. Our goal was to increase our regional medicine chest and promote the use, knowledge and access to medicinal herbs in our city. 

1849 Medicine Garden

Somewhere between a small urban farm and a demonstration garden our principal question was: What is local medicine?  How do we cultivate a local medicine movement and local healing communities?

Beginning in January 2015 we offered an 18 month herbal subscription (or CSA, Community Supported Agriculture) from 1849 Medicine Garden to our San Francisco community consisting of a tincture and a informational piece of art.  We also used the garden to host classes and events. 

Tell us a little about yourself. Is 1849 Medicine Garden your address? 

I used to have a garden in the middle of San Fransisco in the Mission District it was located on Guerrero St and 18th and a lot of times people would confuse the address of the garden with the name of the Garden or the name of the project is 1849 Medicine but the address was actually on the 500 block. 

The name 1849 Medicine Garden

is the same 1849 Medicine Garden comes from the history of the land from Northern California. You can trace our history back to what we know about the gold rush, that’s what made San Francisco the beginnings for the city today.

  • It was  boom town
  • kind of built overnight in a sense
  • as much as a legacy

Americas and especially of the United States one of colonial history. I use that name to root the name in where we are now.


I’ve been working on growing medicine

similar type of boomtown here based in the second tech boom and so I just try to point that out, try to acknowledge the affect the land


Appropriateness of time and place as medicine in my work as an urban farmer.

IDK what made me think it was the address, now that you say that it does look like a year. 

Maybe that’s the ambiguity of it, I almost put it out there as a thiking piece let’s try to remember where we come from.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I love that question. It’s one that I like to ask people as well.

Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis by Bonnie Rose Weaver

Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis

I wrote a book as you mentioned and it’s called Deeply Rooted. It starts out with my very first gardening experience, when I was probably 3-4 I was in preschool. 

another part of my story

I have a love and admiration for is I was born and raised here. I went to pre-school a couple of blocks from where my medicine garden was. I remember arguing with my 3-4 year old peers, that plants take in water. I don’t remember what we were growing  it could have been a tomato or a pea it could have been anything

My peer was adamant that they take them in through their roots! I thought they took water in through their leaves, I didn’t know what roots were I had never seen them before because I was 3! Just that whole consciousness raising of what plants are and how they work. 

It’s funny the weird things we remember from childhood! The things that stick out.

It’s very telling… I thin some of my most early memories of life have to do with being outside and being with plants.


How did you learn how to garden organically?

It took me a long time to realize it was a calling and path of mine. Certainly being reaised in the city. I didn’t have a lot of access to plant medicines etc. My family went camping a couple of times a year, there was a kind of otherness to the natural world, that was  outside of me and outside of the city it was something I was certainly raised to appreciate.

I didn’t garden much as a kid but as an adult I came full circle with my interest in gardening. As a young adult kind of persuing that as an extracuricular. Then along the way when I was living in Olympia, WA began to get this exposure to plant medicines. 

So not just being aware of plants but being aware of them as beings and forces of healing

never let go of what it was to relearn that take that into my being it was such a divorce between what is medicine and the natural world

the idea

idea of plant medicine was quite intense for me at the beginning because I had never been around it. I never want to take that for granted I have a really big emphasis and compassion to people who aren’t exposed to plant medicine. 

The mission of 1849 Medicine Garden is access to an education about herbal medicine

a couple of different projects

a medicine garden

incarnation of this book

I’m not sure what else is next… I am definitely passion

Do you want to talk about what herbal medicine is I imagine it’s taking herbs and using them for medicine. 

I think, there’s a lot of different layers to what plant medicine is,

Your Plant Medicine Connection

I’ll just start off with the idea that all of our ancestors practiced plant medicine so that’s one unifying piece that I like to draw people in with. 

  • where’ve you are
  • who ever you are
  • whatever your doing…

you had ancestors who used plant medicine. So that’s your personal connection!

My ancestors come from Italy, Croatia and Europe. That is what we currently call western herbalism. That being a differenciation from a 

  • traditional Chinese
  • classical Chinese
  • Aurivata
  • those are the more well known
  • truly medicine from all over the world

different forms

probably were related at some point have also shifted with the influence of time, trade, and place and so much is based on place becuase it’s based on plants that one has access too

collection of herbs that I used as medicine that are from Europe and ones that were native to the Americas. All of them grow in the San Francisco Bay area

Urban farmer background

when I started getting interested in herbal medicine

urban farming

What is local Medicine?

beginning herbal farming

transfixed by this idea that we are able to grow our own food! How powerful is that?

That you can see an artichoke growing

As an urbannite there’s not much of a connection between food and people. I cultivated this collection of herbs and medicines. 

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I had 50 different medicinal herbs growing at 1849 Medicine Garden

certain ones that really stood out because they grew so well, in this way that if I had enough abundance to process them. In a traditionalist way to process and preserve and herb

is to

  • take the herb fresh
  • weighing process the weight of herb to amount of liquid you are going to use
  • essentially you are puttin gthe herb into an alcohol to create a tincture.


If you have ever walked into a health food store or an herb shop that is a tincture

it really just depends on what angle your coming at, some people were raised using tinctures – that’s what I use as the main medium for herbal medicine

A tincture lasts for 10 years.

If I have an amazing passion flower vine that is ready for processing it’s in full flower, it’s probably mid to late summer. I can collect my passion flower and preserve it in alcohol. I have enough nervous system support for me and my friends for many many years.

There’s other ways to use herbal medicine  

  • drying herbal medicine
  • tea
  • vinegar
  • oil
  • lotion
  • put them in your bath
  • smudging
  • in ceremony
  • infinite way of how to use herbs

That’s part of the medicine is truly just being the tender of the medicinal and appreciate and acknowledge the energy the plants give  you. Part of the medicine for me has been in being a medicinal plant cultivator and the energy I get from that and a part of having them be a part of my life on an energetic level. 

I think all gardeners, because we get to be around the plant and they feed us in a spiritual way. 

How would somebody know what Passion Flower’s for? If someone is just starting out and wanting to plant are there some basics to start with?

Another aspect of my work.

My story I came to herbal medicine like many people because I was sick

  • grew up with asthma. 
  • I had been taking inhalers for most of my life.
  • steroids
  • those types of medicines don’t fix the problem
  • they’re not preventative or part of a long term solution.

My first project was to find plants that were good for the lungs. After several weeks of research and starting to take the herbs every day for 3 months, I notice my lungs were much stronger and I have never taken another inhaler. 

That experience was one of the most profound experiences, in my life. 

I wanted to share that feeling and share that empowerment that I got.

Sharing your story is probably helping other people. A lot of people have asthma or kids with it.

people all the time

  • adults
  • kids

live with asthma. Everybody’s different. We are biology and chemistry in action!

All herbs affect different parts of the body. 

Asthma is just one example. 

People tell me all the time! Oh I have asthma.  I want to say have you tried herbs? There’s a lot of herbs that can support the lungs and can help you move mucus or help you have greater lung capacity.

keep the lungs healthy

Your questions was how does one know how does a plant work? What it works on in the body.

That is certainly a whole different repertoire the growing aspect.

Half of it is stories and essays and being a medicine farmer and how I came to it. The 2nd half is a collection of monographs which is a collection essays about individual herbs. I called the herbs we grew at 1849 Medicine Garden the Bay Area Medicine Chest because they grow in the San Francisco Bay Area but they grow all over the country. A lot of them are weeds.

One thing a newly interested excited medicine gardener would want to look at on plants. 

if you want to learn, there are tons of books

You could order my book 

Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis by Bonnie Rose Weaver

Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis

you could order any book on herbalism

good photos you can start to id them

Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs a Beginners Guide

Rosemary Gladstar

Reader’s Digest has good books for beginners.

But when you’re starting to understand there is nothing better then really just studying them when you are in the garden. 

There is the Doctrine of Signatures.  It’s a very old idea.

I believe it was developed by Paracelsus 

It’s the idea that something looks like it helps

with food

walnut has omega threes and 6s but it has the omegas’ that are good for the brain and it looks like a brain. 

Passion Flower

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