Q&A with garden pharmacist, Reece Carter
Self confessed ‘herb-nerd’ Reece Carter, has transformed his passion of all things alive and green into a career as a naturopath while building a profile as a garden pharmacist.
25 November, 2015
Growing up in a farm in WA, Reece is now busy developing his brand in the city of dreams, Los Angeles. We steal a few moments with Reece to chat about his childhood memories, garden inspirations and how we can use herbs and plants to create our own pharmacy.
First things first, what is a ‘garden pharmacist’?
Garden pharmacy is all about relearning which of our favourite plants and ingredients can be used to treat common ailments. It used to be a household skill – most of us grew up with a grandmother with at least one home remedy up her sleeve – but it’s been lost. We run to the pharmacy at every itch, scratch, or tickle. Getting out there and becoming a garden pharmacist is all about growing and preparing medicines for you and your own family, without the side effects that come with some pharmaceuticals!
You grew up on farm in country WA, how much has that influenced who you are today and what was it about the lifestyle or landscape that inspired you?
It probably reads as a bit of a cliché, but growing up on a farm really is what you’d expect: wide, open spaces; good, wholesome cooking; and lots of playing with plants and animals. It was this lifestyle that really highlighted to me the healing power of nature. And not just in terms of good nutrition and herbal medicine, but even the simple therapy of having bare feet planted on the earth. I started playing in the garden and setting up my own vegetable patches from a young age, and I’ve still not grown out of it!
Favourite childhood memory in the garden?
I think my favourite childhood memory in the garden wouldn’t actually even be in my own garden, but rather my Pop’s. He had the most amazing garden, and he himself could usually be found stewing nectarine, or tinkering away in the shed on some new wind-chime or miniature greenhouse. My fondest memory is probably running around his garden with my brother and sister, picking tomatoes and stuffing our faces full of gooseberries.
As a kid you got your hands dirty in the veggie patch, is that something you continue to do today?
In Melbourne I had space in my yard to build a few planter boxes and fill them up with yummy veggies and medicinal herbs. Since relocating to LA at the start of this year, it’s been a little harder since I’m in an apartment. In a way though, it’s been a really interesting lesson: I had to choose a few of my ‘must-have’ herbies and grow them in the windowsill. I can’t wait to have the space for a full garden again, but until then I’m proof that even in small, urban spaces, there is room to be a garden pharmacist!
What are your top three favourite therapeutic plants and why?
That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say lavender and passionflower are two of them. They combine beautifully in a fresh-leaf tea to combat the stresses of modern life. Both reduce anxiety, promote calm, and help with sleep. After graduating from my degree, I launched a sleep tea called SUM T Lights Out, which combines these two plus a whole heap of others at therapeutic doses.
At the other end of the spectrum is peppermint, which can be used to pep you up and banish the brain fog, without the need for caffeine or sugar. In an upcoming episode of my web series, I’m going to show everyone how to make a simple peppermint mist to keep you alert at your desk, completely naturally.
Do you have any tips for people who are wanting to dabble into a little garden pharmacy at home?
Start off my picking one aspect of your health you want to change. Do you have trouble sleeping? Or are you battling eczema? Does bloating get you down? Once you know what you want to tackle first, you can find out which handful of herbs to grow, or to stock in your pantry. You don’t need much space to get started. My web series might be a good place to start in terms of finding out which herbs are for you. The Herb-Nerd Hacks are brief snippets that reveal the therapeutics of different plants, and the full-length The Garden Pharmacist video blogs show you my recipes for turning plant in to remedy.
You’re based in LA at the moment, is there a location/venue/favourite outdoor hangout you can share with us?
People in LA love to hike, and I’ve definitely jumped on that bandwagon. Runyon Canyon is probably one of the best-known hikes here, and has become a weekly ritual for me. I like to go up towards sunset – the hills are beautiful when all lit up in golden light! In terms of food, I’m currently a bit obsessed with all the amazing fresh Mexican food here – Petty Cash Taqueria and Gracias Madre are current faves.
Thanks for the chat Reece!
For more about garden pharmacy and Reece Carter visit reececarter.com.au