On a warm October afternoon in 2021, roughly 40 personnel from Oregon forest agencies, area tribes, and conservation groups, including the Long Tom Watershed Council, gathered on the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve outside Eugene. Among them were a dozen Native American firefighter trainees who had spent the week learning the essentials of wildfire suppression. That the culmination of their training would be the deliberate burning of an eight-acre parcel of land might strike some as contrary, even outrageous. As a former National Park Ranger who served as a firefighter in the early 90s, this certainly flew in the face of the training I’d received.
You already know that Mountain Rose Herbs is a purveyor of organic herbs, essential oils, teas, and exceptional botanical offerings. And you’ve probably read that we are serious about putting people, plants, and planet before profit with everything we do: from supporting sustainable agriculture to encouraging employee volunteerism. What you may not have known is that in 2018 these values led us to become an Oregon Benefit Company.
We believe that the traditional definition of a corporation is outdated and does not align with our commitment to creating a healthy community for all. Our stakeholders are the growers, customers, employees, and ecosystems that sustain our business. That’s why we’re always seeking new ways to redefine the role of business in the world!
Our Oregon Benefit Company legal, corporate designation states that Mountain Rose Herbs provides “a general public benefit” by making a positive impact on society and the environment through ethical business practices and operations.
With so many options on the shelf at the grocery store, not to mention the enormous number of food selections from online sources, it is difficult to know that the food we eat is nutritious, delicious, and free of unwanted pesticides or preservatives. We see a lot of hype around one certification or another, with new standards being presented to us all the time. How do we know that the food we put on the table supports the health of our families, communities, and the planet?
Organic certification is Mountain Rose Herbs’ go-to standard for ensuring that our herbal offerings are grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, GMO seed stock, or irradiation. However, truth be told, there can be a lot of variation in the quality of offerings from brands displaying an organic certification. Because we sell predominately organic certified products, we rely on industry partners like The Cornucopia Institute, as well as rigorous in-house testing for quality and purity, to ensure that the herbs and spices we provide enhance the lives of our customers.
In June of 2023, we embarked on a journey to meet with one of our farm partners in Wazuka, Japan. After a long and exciting travel day, we arrived in the bustling city of Osaka.
Our old friend, Masashi, welcomed us with excitement and an eagerness to share the 350-year-old tea plantation with us. We loaded into his sedan and headed for the misty hills of Wazuka. We first toured the fields where we learned about the growing, shading, inspecting, and harvesting of the fresh and vibrant green leaves. From there we got a behind-the-scenes look at how these organic tea leaves are turned into the vibrant powder we know and love. After fully experiencing the tea planation and all of the heartfelt work that went into making this fine tea powder, we were invited to take part in a traditional matcha tea ceremony.
Having worked with this farmer for over a decade, it was an honor to connect with him in a way that celebrated his culture and to recognize the people that grow and process this special tea for the world to enjoy.
Enjoy a cup of ceremonial matcha: https://mountainroseherbs.com/matcha-tea
Try matcha with a traditional whisk and spoon: https://mountainroseherbs.com/matcha-set
Since its inception, Mountain Rose Herbs has put plants, people, and planet before profit. Led by these values, we’ve been a longtime leader on the list of green companies, helping to positively shape the herbal industry with environmentally focused initiatives. Our core values revolve around sustainability and as such, we’ve implemented innovative programs in energy efficiency, zero waste, and alternative commuting incentives.
WHAT ARE GREEN COMPANIES?
While the definition can vary in its details, green companies are essentially businesses that commit to practices that positively impact their community and the environment. Most states have created an award system to recognize the regional businesses that are the best employers based on their commitment to employees, community, and the planet.
This brings us to Oregon Business’ 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon. To win this award, employees throughout the state participated in an anonymous survey, rating the sustainable initiatives in their workplace and their satisfaction with those policies. In addition, employers were independently scored on their answers to a list of 15 sustainability-oriented questions.
As many of you know, at Mountain Rose Herbs, we invest time and energy into striking a balance between offering as many sustainably grown and harvested organic herbal allies as possible and simultaneously supporting the conservation of at-risk and endangered plants. We are excited that more and more people are recognizing the abundance Mother Nature has to offer and the many benefits that the botanical world provides. Unfortunately, the increasing impact of overharvesting on wild plants has left many of our most important botanicals at serious risk.
With this in mind, Mountain Rose Herbs has been working with United Plant Savers (UpS) to launch a new Seed Stewardship Project! With the help of UpS Executive Director Susan Leopold, we have chosen a variety of at-risk plant seeds that we are giving away to people who are able to plant them and help rebuild our at-risk plant communities. Now, when you place an order on MountainRoseHerbs.com, you will have the option to select a seed package for FREE. Plant them in a window box, in your back yard, or in a natural area where these plants once thrived—together we can ensure their survival one seed at a time.
At Mountain Rose Herbs, botanicals are our business, and the industry has been growing year over year as more people realize the health-supporting benefits of our plant allies. Sounds great, doesn’t it? In many ways, this is a wonderful return to valuing the abundance the natural world has to offer while utilizing the myriad benefits that botanicals provide. Unfortunately, the ongoing and increasing impact of overharvesting wild plants has left many of our native populations at significant risk of decline or even extinction. For this reason, we have invested our time and energy in striking a balance between increasing the availability of the number of botanicals we offer and supporting the conservation of the most at-risk plant varieties.
Dr. Athene Eisenhardt, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, found her path in life by way of the plant world. Working professionally as a field botanist for Yosemite National Park led her to begin wildcrafting and using native California plants as medicine, and to study the Taoist 5 elements in nature. She maintains a private practice in Oakland, California, offering 5 Element Acupuncture and Integrative Herbalism. Athene is also on the Herbology faculty at the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA.
Athene and Jiling discuss:
The Five Elements of East Asian medicine
How the five flavors relate to the Five Elements
Examples of native California plant and Five Elements’ interrelationships
How climate informs plant intelligence
Ethical harvesting of native plants
Some of Athene’s favorite plant meditations!
In 2018, we launched Grants4Plants, a grant program that supports those that are improving the accessibility of herbalism and herbal education, protecting native and medicinal plants, ensuring the future of organic agriculture, and much more.
Each year, we receive hundreds of applications for inspiring projects across the country and are faced with the difficult task of narrowing them down to four of the best. Our favorite part of Grants4Plants is when we get to review the updated videos from the winners to see how winning the grant has improved their work and helped communities across the country. We hope you enjoy watching these inspiring videos.
We had the pleasure of interviewing our good friend and esteemed herbalist, 7Song. This conversation was recorded in the Winter of 2022. Learn about 7Song’s upbringing, his path and approach to herbalism, as well as his general advice to up and coming herbalists including practicing in a clinic. Humorous and entertaining, we hope you enjoy this meandering and wonderful conversation.
7Song is an herbal practitioner and Director of Holistic Medicine at the Ithaca Free Clinic and Founder, Director, and main instructor at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine. 7Song has been studying plants, people, and herbal medicine for over 30 years and currently teaches at schools and conferences throughout the United States. His focus includes herbal practice, free clinic work, first aid, wildcrafting, and botany. He also spends a lot of time taking photographs of things that run, crawl, fly, or photosynthesize.