Sacred Seeds leader Rafael Ocampo explains the motivations and methods...
Tertulias Herb Garden
Tertulias’ purpose is to serve as a healing oasis. Our focus is traditional Puerto Rican medicinal herbs, already familiar to many people in the community. We host tea days, herb walks, and sell medicinal herbs on site. The garden features hammocks and benches for people to rest and share stories. As in many low income neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Norris Square copes with many forms of violence and trauma. The garden acts primarily as a space to rest and recover from such trauma by creating an opportunity to share life’s ups and downs in a colorful, friendly, family-oriented environment. The herbs are part of the physical and emotional healing provided by the space. Growing these plants and providing information on their use strengthens cultural knowledge of herbalism, which is frequently lost through immigration to cities. Knowledge of how to grow, harvest, and use medicinal plants, instead of relying to pharmaceuticals and emergency rooms is another yet means towards community sovereignty. Specially trained community health workers are available in the garden to consult with neighbors about health issues and make references for other services. These workers, who are members of the community, are trained in both traditional practices and management of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
In partnership with NSNP, Tertulias is developing a similar program based on the growing and use of medicinal African herbs.