All photos by:  Brenda Phillips
Website created by:  Brenda Phillips and Robin Anderson

MEDICINAL PLANT CONSERVATION

Sierra Norte, Oaxaca, Mexico

Ecological conservation should not only be a discussion of stand-alone habitats and ecosystems, but also of the people who live in these regions, and continue to work closely with their natural environment.

In most traditional societies, women function as the conduit between plants and people, responsible for nourishing and healing their communities with what their corner of the earth yields, giving shape to beliefs and perspectives that define a culture. 

A threat to an ecosystem is also a threat to traditional environmental knowledge, and intimacy with the natural world.  

ALBINA 
 

In the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, many Zapotec communities still rely heavily on traditional curanderas as healthcare. 

Albina has a degree in plant biology and functions as the most prominent healer of her village.  Her home was bursting at the seams with plants, flowers and seeds. 

The Common Ground Collective partnered with the village to create a larger community garden which Albina oversees.

LAURA
 

Just up the road from Albina is Laura.  Albina and Laura are said to have trained under a locally famous healer named Pilar. 

Laura’s delight in her gift of healing is palpable, as is her love of plants. Funding went to create a brick-and-mortar structure on her property to offer ailing community members a place to heal. 

Laura also works with Albina in the community garden.

TELESFORA
 

In a neighboring village, Telesfora cultivates medicinal plants on her property for community use. 

Telesfora takes healing to a spiritual level and is sought out in cases of fright, grief and shock.  Support from The Common Ground Collective will be given so that Telesfora can continue to teach interested young women of her community, and of the city of Oaxaca. 

WILD MUSHROOM COLLECTIVE
 

The Sierra Norte of Oaxaca is a mycologist’s dream.  Over 350 edible varieties of fungi have been identified, harvested and collected during the rainy months between May and October.  

Noemí and Juana are part of the women’s collective that scours the mountainsides for edible fungi, dries the goods, and sells them locally in their village, as well as to the famed chefs in Oaxaca City. 

SONJA y GEORGINA
 

Mother and daughter work together to harvest plants in their backyards to create tinctures, teas and salves.

Proper blenders, jars and canning materials went to their operation so they could continue to create their products for distribution.