Raven Crest Botanicals is a beautiful small-scale organic herb farm in upstate NY owned by a plant loving herbalist who creates artisan skin products, herbal extracts, and medicinal tea blends made with loving intention and respect for mother earth. A bountiful property of all that nature has to offer - with the intention of sustainability and healing - tucked away just 30 minutes south of Albany.
The road turned from asphalt to gravel and the trees arched their branches towards each other. The drive to Raven Crest Botanicals is at once mysterious and magical. I had taken Amtrak from Penn Station, New York and was graciously picked up by Sam, an herbalist managing the farm. My week had been busy with events and obligations, and being in the presence of calm, peaceful beings helped me release my shoulders and clear my thoughts almost immediately.
Inside the charming red stone farmhouse, I noted the accents of gifts from the earth - raven bird feathers, dried herbs, and stones, to name a few. Owned by herbalist Susanna Raven, the property is a clear reflection of her intentions and practices to offer therapeutic experiences with plants. Susanna's experience with plants began during a trip to the Peruvian Amazon, and since then, she has transformed the property into a small-scale organic farm of herbs which she uses to create a variety of herbal products.
I settled in and took my seat at the dinner table with Susanna, Sam, and Casey, a seasonal volunteer who makes her own jewelry and offers hugs unabashedly. Dinner included fresh produce from the farm and tea with home-grown herbs. With so much nourishment, I felt as if the earth had circled her arms around me.
The next morning we rose with the sun and made flower essences, meditation-infused flower water involving observation of and contemplation with a particular plant. I sat with valerian, a plant commonly known to help support anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Valerian, V. officinalis, is crowned with sweetly scented white flowers in the summer and can grow up to five feet. Her leaves have toothed margins, similar to geranium, and inspire quirkiness and creativity. After sitting with valerian for some time, I picked the delicate white flowers and let them float in a bowl of water in the sun for the remainder of the morning. The essence of the plant becomes infused with the water and can offer therapeutic powers when needed.
After the meditation, I journaled my observations about the herb:
I sat with you in the garden.
Beautiful, tall stalks with delicate white flowers as your crown.
Peace, serenity, and grace spoke your name.
A buttterfly, bee, and fly stopped by to say hello.
You reached up to they sky, arms wide open.
Kissing the heavens - the white puffy clouds, the sun-kissed sky.
The breeze wrapped its arms around you.
An embrace. A dance.
Your friends nearby, there to protect you. You are safe.
Beauty in the curves of your leaves.
Your confident stalk, your delicate flowers.
You can sleep peacefully now.
After a full breakfast of fresh eggs and vegetables, Sam, Casey, and I went to the vegetable garden and tended to rows of every shade of green - tomato and bean stalks, kale, basil, red clover, more to remember - a bountiful season of color. I harvested the bright purple flowers of red clover, supportive to the lymphatic system and inflammation in the body, to be dried and infused into massage oil later.
Raven Crest Botanicals inspires deep connection with plants on a level beyond basic farming. If we are attentive and open, we can hear plants tell us when they're ready to be harvested, prime with nutrients to support our health.
After working in the vegetable garden for several hours, the sun now high peaked, we went back to the house for a healthy lunch and short rest. Our afternoon would involve working with the herbs to formulate into teas and tinctures, and then walking down to the creek to sit in the shade and listen to the natural sound bath of water rushing over rocks.
The mission of Raven Crest Botanicals is to "help heal the body, mind, and spirit of our community and our planet; grow medicinal herbs with sustainable organic farming methods and wild-craft healing plants with knowledge and respect; and be the steward of our land and protect the plants and animals that flourish on it."
I witnessed all these practices during my visit. Susanna's offerings - ranging from herbal CSA shares, custom herbal products, and special weekend retreats - provide the perfect antidote to our disconnection from nature's bounty.
For your own dose of nature's medicine, visit Raven Crest Botanicals for information on upcoming retreats led by Susanna Raven and infused with wellness.
Maria Christodoulou | Founder, Bliss Without Bother