Produced by Emma McQuade
With its shelves lined with jars of dried plants and spices, Ithaca’s one-stop-shop is every herb-lover’s dream. Located in Ithaca’s Press Bay Alley is Bramble Community Herbalism, an herb shop owned by four local herbalists. They came together under the common goal of bringing accessible, sustainable medicine to the Ithaca community.
With the help of a successful Indiegogo campaign, Bramble was able to grow its business. Amanda David, one of the co-founders of Bramble, advocates for alternative medicine as a way to connect people and plants to promote personal and planetary health.
As a child, David spent most of her time outdoors exploring nature. After graduating from high school, David became a migrant farm worker and traveled around the states working on organic farms. Around this time she received a book on plant medicine from a friend and was inspired to start her career as an herbalist.
“I was totally blown away that plants could be used as medicine,” David said. “I started learning the different plants and found that a lot of the plants we were weeding out of the farms were medicinal herbs.”
David went on to become an apprentice herbalist and took numerous classes on the study of herbal medicine. When the idea of opening an herb shop in Ithaca came about, David jumped at the opportunity.
With the help of three other local herbalists, Bramble opened its doors in October of last year. David said she wanted the space to be a place for the community to receive consultations, education and products. With over 30 percent of the shop’s stock locally grown, and 100 percent of it organic, Bramble’s focus is on supporting the Ithaca community.
“It’s very local centric,” said David. “We’re trying to focus on supporting local herbalists and using local herbs.”
Along with retail items, Bramble offers classes on various subjects relating to herbalism. The herbalists further encourage consultations for those who want alternative methods in assisting with their health goals or challenges.
“Herbs are not just alternatives to pharmaceuticals,” David said. “They can be used as a complement to pharmaceuticals.”
Alongside David is her apprentice, Rose Fleurant. Like David, Fleurant grew up a lover of nature.
“I wanted to get into a field of how to help heal the earth,” Fleurant said. “I didn’t think of using plants as medicinal until I moved to Ithaca.”
As David’s apprentice, Fleurant is trying to gain as much knowledge as possible of herbs and their many uses.
“From medicinal uses to planting and replanting and how to heal the earth, it’s all about being reconnected to where we came from,” Fluerant said.
Fleurant said herbs can be used to prevent illnesses, boost the immune system and help the body processes work more efficiently. They can also be used as alternatives to pharmaceuticals for chronic or acute conditions.
Although David said she is happy there are pharmaceuticals, she is wary because pharmaceuticals are often overused and misused.
“There are so many things you can treat naturally with herbal medicine that so many people are running to pharmaceuticals for,” David said. “Herbs should be your first round of defense in most health situations.”
Along with providing consultations, Bramble also runs a low-cost community clinic once a month to provide low-cost care for those who may not be able to afford a general consultation. Chelsea Doig, a customer at Bramble and chamomile tea enthusiast, believes that the shop is a perfect way to educate the community on the benefits of natural remedies.
“[The herbs] are able to ease my ailments without the physical side effects of pharmaceuticals,” said Doig. “It’s pretty amazing how nature can heal.”