Reclamation is personal. Growing medicinal herbs has allowed us to reclaim our family histories and celebrate our ancestors who knew this way before us. We believe that Black, Indigenous, and people of color have the right to reclaim our cultures, our belonging to the land, our authenticity, our medicine. In many places around the world where people are still in touch with this traditional knowledge, herbs are not “alternative” or “complementary” to health care, they are central.
Stu's grandmother gardening at the Pigeon Hill Farm Club in Morris Plains, NJ.
Herman Elon Hughes
Michelle's dad, with groundhog in his vegetable garden, Scotch Plains, NJ.
Michelle's uncle, growing native edible plants on Hassel Island, USVI.
Reclamation is a process. We believe that a medicinal herb farm is the best way to care for the soil, air, water, and ecosystem of this 12 acres of land that we steward here in the Hudson Valley, Germantown, NY, unceded Mohican territory. Growing medicinal plants with agroecological practices allows us to:
Grow predominantly perennials in semi-permanent beds that require minimal tillage;
Increase the biodiversity of this place;
Grow excellent forage to feed bees and other pollinators;
Protect and grow out rare and endangered plants at-risk for over-harvesting in the wild; AND
Use the tenacious (“invasive”) plants already growing on or near our farm as the excellent medicine that they are.
This is a great proposition for our local ecosystems, our community, and our climate.
About Stu Dorris:
Stu is happiest when working outside with the wind on his face. He started farming over 10 years ago to help improve his own health, and to do more good in the world. He’s passionate about stewarding the land where we now live, and he works to make every place that he touches more beautiful, biodiverse, healthy, and welcoming.
For 20+ years Stu has been building his skills as a carpenter, farmer, seedkeeper, furniture maker, property manager, and landscaper. Stu was the farm manager of an organic seed company for five years, and then went on to be a founding member of a cooperative landscaping company. He was a hop grower and co-owner of 12 Moon Hops. He sold the first cell phones in 1994, was a lifeguard, and taught 5 and 6-year-olds to swim. For a year and a half, Stu led youth who had been adjudicated by the juvenile justice system on month-long wilderness trips to help them rebuild trust, empathy, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills.
In addition to Reclamation Herb Farm, Stu currently builds furniture part-time with Michael Robbins Studio.
Stu is usually the organized, hard-working guy in the background avoiding the spotlight. He is actively working on becoming a pitmaster, is pretty OK at bikes, and probably owns too many jackets.
Current favorite herb: Arnica for his battered hands.
We started Reclamation Herb Farm, first and foremost, to share high-quality medicinal herbs with you. We also started Reclamation Herb Farm because we believe that everyone has the right to reclaim agency in their own health care. Our own personal struggles with Lyme and other chronic illnesses, pain management, genetic predispositions to health issues, and disappointments with allopathic Western medicine, led us to understand that there is another way. Herbalism allows us more autonomy and self determination in taking care of our own health, and allows us to use the plants that our ancestors evolved with to heal ourselves.
Michelle's grandfather, in his plant house, St. Thomas, USVI.
Florence Adina Nelthropp
Michelle's grandmother, next to an Ixora bush in her garden, St. Thomas, USVI.
Christine Richards Cooper
Stu's mom, in her garden in Flourtown, PA.
Stu's grandfather, preparing garden beds at the Pigeon Hill Farm Club, Morris Plains, NJ.
We love to grow plants. Reclamation Herb Farm is the realization of our life-long dreams to work outside, have our hands in the soil on a regular basis, and to feel rooted to a place. When we moved here to Germantown in 2018, we waited for this land to tell us what we should grow here. A chance encounter with Toni Thomas, author of Traditional Medicinal Plants of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John: A Selection of 68 Plants, who knew Michelle’s grandfather’s work, sparked our vision, and led us on this path.
We love dogs, walking in the woods, cycling, and tacos.
About Michelle Lynn Hughes:
Investigating, reclaiming, and uplifting my African and Caribbean ancestors’ relationships to medicinal plants feels urgent and necessary in this moment. My father, Herman Hughes, was an incredible gardener who composted before it was cool. My grandfather, Alphonso Nelthropp, was a botanist and gardener who established an arboretum of edible and medicinal Caribbean plants at Meagan’s Bay in St. Thomas.
I’ve worked on several vegetable farms, as a Spanish interpreter and translator, and as an adult educator. I helped 20 immigrant families (many of whom I still count as friends!) start farms on a combined 400 acres. I co-founded and served as the head buyer for a nonprofit grocery store that uses a tiered pricing system, and I led development for the National Young Farmers Coalition. I have a BS in Conservation and Applied Ecology and a minor in Agroecology. In 2019, I completed an herbalism course with 7Song at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, which gave me great joy and opened up a new world.
In addition to Reclamation Herb Farm, I work full time as Associate Director of Regional Food Programs for the Glynwood Center. This role allows me to use my passion for connecting diverse people with varied experiences and expertise to help co-create a more just, healthy, and resilient food landscape in the Hudson Valley.
I raced road bikes for a few years when I turned 30, I love to sew but never make time for it, and I cook with every spare moment I have.
Current favorite herb: Calendula for lymph flow and gastrointestinal healing.