I am Wise Woman Spiral, Sarah Elisabeth, an Herbal business. I am an apothecary, a consultant, an edible landscaper and a teacher. My work is with the indigenous, women and people of color and our journey to equality.
I am a Caribbean-European-African-American woman born in England and have been in America since I was four years old. We lived in Queens, New York until I was twelve years old and then we moved to Miami, Florida. I returned to New York when I was nineteen. I missed the change of seasons. I have lived in New York now for thirty-three years. I spent twenty years in the boroughs and have now lived upstate in Beacon, New York for the past twelve years.
My family traveled the Caribbean Diaspora which is from the Caribbean to Europe to the United States. My Mum was from Guyana and my father is from Dominica, both English colonies which is why they traveled to England for economic opportunity and had my three older brothers and me. My parents spent fifteen years in England before bringing us all to New York and then Miami. My mother lost her teeth in England due to the poor diet. She was a nurse for forty-two years and passed on last July. She said she had bronchitis every Winter in New York which no doubt prompted the move to Miami.
I am a grower today, a farmer, a gardener with three gardens of my own and a fourth that is an edible landscape client. My life's journey has been to be a gardener, providing food and medicine for my family, community and consumers. There is no escaping the political on this journey. I am a black woman and in this Establishment wholly political. Black women are not only marginalized, but dismissed. I cannot separate my herbal work from the political because for me it is constantly intertwined.
I am a social activist and have had of course many triumphs and setbacks. This blog will talk about my gardening with a social justice angle. I am always engaged in community development and I have partner farms that also do the work so my season of gardening entails community building and business models that reflect social activism. I am rare, a black woman with access to land. Less than one percent of farmland is in the hands of people of color in this country. I have been fortunate to have benevolent benefactors and friends who have gifted me land. I believe the Turtle Island Native tenet "We belong to the Earth, the Earth does not belong to us," and have foregone purchasing property over my fifty-two years and have subsequently been gifted land my entire journey upstate. I have four gardens, Sargent-Downing, a community garden, Flora Jones Garden, a private residence, Hiddenbrooke, my herb garden all in Beacon and Sally Garden of Eden in Rosendale, NY. I have three partner farms White Pine Community Farm in Webatuck (Wingdale), NY, Wildseed in Millerton, NY and Seed Song in Kingston, NY that provide further resources. I am Director of the non-profit A Farm for All! which provides the land for White Pine. I am on the Steering Circle of Neetopk Keetopk, an indigenous education organization.
In 2019, I have grown my business to the point of leaving my job for the past two years milking goats and focusing wholly on my gardens and marketing the business. I am training in online marketing and copywriting. I look forward to wholly focusing on my gardens and what having that focus will develop in me as a gardener. Gardening is a love that can grow into a craving. It is who we have been all been in our evolution as humans. There is a harmony to be had with Earth contrary to popular belief. Along with the political and activist bent of this blog will be the spiritual because engagement with Earth is engagement with Spirit, our Creator and Sustainer, our foundation without which we could not exist. The Establishment seeks to separate us from Earth, ourselves and one another and my work is to reconnect. Let's go!