Meet Lauren Pignatello, My Village HerbalistKristin Crane
When Lauren Pignatello was a young adult, she was living on her own in New York City, waiting tables. Without health insurance, she started looking for alternative ways to stay healthy and treat sicknesses. She slowly began seeking out little shops in her neighborhood, looking for dried herbs and talking to people about making her own medicine for herself and her dog. Little did she know at the time, this would be the beginning of a lifelong journey with medicinal plants.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and she has become an expert on medicinal plants. Plants are now a grounding aspect of her daily existence. From New York City, Lauren moved to rural Maine, where she lives with her husband and seven children on Swallowtail Farm. There, they run a commercial dairy where they make items such as yogurt, cheese, and butter for sale regionally. Lauren also produces a line of health and beauty products such as tonics, tinctures, elixirs, salves, and makeup. A true maker at heart, Lauren loves to teach herself new products to make with her plants.
Lauren’s love of the outdoors is infectious. Whether foraging in the woods or along Maine’s rugged coast, she loves to be joined by others to share her knowledge. She hosts workshops and retreats at her farm or sometimes in the Netherlands (where Kristen met her) throughout the year. She hopes that the more people learn about how valuable plants are, the more they will incorporate them into their lives as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Tips from Lauren for getting started.
For those looking to connect with their local environment more, Lauren has tips for safely exploring what’s around them. First, she recommends starting at your local library to look for books on plants specific to your region. Next, visit health food stores and farmer’s markets and talk to those working there about the products they’re selling. For those wanting to go deeper, Lauren recommends finding a local herbalist to pursue additional training. Finally, get outside! Spring is the perfect time to be outside observing what is growing in your environment.
Remember, your journey doesn’t need to begin by foraging for everything yourself. Start simply by just incorporating more herbs into your cooking. Even common herbs such as sage or thyme have medicinal uses that are often overlooked. Teas are also a safe and easy way to add more plants to your diet. Also, think about switching some of your health and beauty products to natural alternatives. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Find what feels comfortable for you and your lifestyle, and make small changes that feel right for you.
And if you’re ready to try making your own beauty products, try this Rose Rugosa Buttermilk Facial from Lauren Pignatello.