11 Oct Episode #6: Dana Eudy from Field Apothecary
An online herbal remedy shop in Germantown.
Today I’ll be talking to Dana Eudy from Field Apothecary in Germantown, New York. Before calling the Hudson Valley home, Dana and her family lived in Gowanus Brooklyn where she worked in Photography & Advertising.
She was growing as many herbs she could in her backyard in Gowanus. She started using herbs in her daily life in teas and noticed how her family was not getting sick, and how most of the herbs we have available in stores are from overseas. Drawn to the desire to raise her kids closer to nature and inspired to develop her intuitive self, she moved to Germantown with her husband and children and started Field Apothecary.
I often will tell people who are quite ill, go to nature. I really feel like there's a lot of healing that comes just in spending time in nature. I really think it's valuable. I think the seed of our intuition, the seed of creation, I really think that there's a lot of powerful medicine just by being in nature, for sure.
Words from Dana:
Visit Feld Apothecary:
Jennifer Dopazo: Hi, I’m Jennifer Dopazo, and this is The Fabricant Way.
Today, we’re in Germantown, New York, at Field Apothecary. This is Dana Eudy’s farm, and she’s going to show us how the whole process of taking her products from the farm to the borough works. Let’s see what she has for us.
Dana Eudy: Jenny!
Jennifer Dopazo: Hi, Dana!
Dana Eudy: I’m so happy to have you here today.
Jennifer Dopazo: Thank you, I’m super excited to be here.
Dana Eudy: Yes, I’m really looking forward to showing you what we do here at the Field. I’m excited to show you the farm. You can see a little bit of it over there, but we should probably head that way so I can show you what’s going on.
Jennifer Dopazo: Perfect.
Dana Eudy: Come with me.
Jennifer Dopazo: Dana, you spent some years back in Brooklyn working as a photography agent. How’d the whole interest for herbalism started?
Dana Eudy: I remember it quite well, because it was tied to the birth of my two children. Childbirth really was a gateway for me, it opened the door to the possibility of the plants. I guess I really wanted to be able to treat my kids at home. I really felt like this was the knowledge of our ancestors and our grandparents, and I wanted to find a way to retain this knowledge in our home and be able to utilize plant-based medicine to treat my kids. I was growing a lot of herbs in Brooklyn and just really saw that my children weren’t getting sick, you know, really kept them healthy. I feel like herbs are really about keeping us healthy.
Jennifer Dopazo: When did you decide to start studying herbalism and homeopathy?
Dana Eudy: I started to study homeopathy and herbalism really, like I had mentioned, at the point of delivering my two children. I utilized reiki, which is a little bit more common I feel like now. I was working with a psychotherapist at the time who had introduced me to reiki, and I had an amazing experience with childbirth and delivery, and was also studying meditation at the time and had gone to the Tibet house in New York City. I say a book feels like it jumped off the shelf at me. It was a book titled, In Search of the Medicine Buddha by David Crow. From there, I was turned on to homeopathy. Really, my still-current mentor, Peeka Trenkle, was also a big inspiration in teaching me the way of the plants and introducing me to the healing benefits and the knowledge that our ancestors held onto.
Jennifer Dopazo: When I came to the farm the first day, you’re kind of just like, it’s so pretty, it’s so beautiful, and you’re so blessed just to live here. I’m just wondering how those first days of Field Apothecary looked like. You came here, you have three acres of land. What happened?
Dana Eudy: It was quite overwhelming. I still feel like we’re apprentices. We still have a lot of knowledge, still a lot of education that we … That’s one of the beauties of working with the plants. They’re always … There’s always opportunities to learn more. We really, I guess, in farming over the last three years, one of the most important things that I have learned is, the plants have innate knowledge and innate wisdom. They know what their, you could say, their dharma is. What their life’s purpose. Really, I feel like our purpose is to tend to the soil. That’s what our purpose is, so that they can do what they need to do. We need to just hold the space and create a space for them to be tended to, which ultimately leads back to taking care of the earth, of course.
Jennifer Dopazo: After two successful seasons of farming, then you started working in oils and on the other products that you have. Was that part of the initial plan when you guys moved in here?
Dana Eudy: Actually, it was. We always knew that it was going to be pretty challenging to create a sustainable farm doing, like, bulk herbs, let’s say. I’m really glad that you asked that question because it’s a good point. A lot of people know that food should be local, but it’s kind of also the mindset that herbs and what’s available to be made medicine in our home should also be local, should be part of our bio region. I was working with a lot of plants that were coming in from overseas, and if I lived overseas that would be great. Of course herbs that are coming in sit in shipping containers for long periods of time, and they lose a lot of their potency while they’re being shipped across the ocean, let’s say. That is the basis for us. We wanted to be able to grow herbs and make products with them. It was an important part of the process for us.
Jennifer Dopazo: The Field Apothecary products can be found in different markets, but you also started a medicinal CSA. I just wonder if you could just tell us more a bit about that.
Dana Eudy: Absolutely. The medicinal CSA … CSA is a term that a lot of people are familiar with, but there’s also a lot of people that aren’t. I’ve kind of changed it ever so slightly, and I really call it now a wellness box, because I think that really helps people understand. It gives a little bit more of a comprehensive what’s coming. The idea behind our CSA, our wellness box, is that it’s four seasons. Each season you get ten remedies delivered to your door, or you can come to the farm if you happen to be in the vicinity. The idea is to help people transform their medicine chest, like they’ve done with their food pantry. You can kind of see how there’s a common goal or a common thread throughout a lot of the work that we’re doing here at the Field.
Jennifer Dopazo: I can imagine that we’re kind of used of the concept of CSA already, but it’s just like shifting it from what you eat to just what you put in your cabinet, right?
Dana Eudy: Exactly. It’s kind of going a little bit deeper. I see the medicine chest as an extension of our food pantry really, in a lot of ways. I also would say, which I credit back to my teachers, we have a medicine chest in our bathroom, we have a medicine chest in our kitchen, and we have a medicine chest in our bedroom. The idea is to keep these remedies where you use them. It’s a lot of you know, home. This is really home-based, there’s always a place for our more traditional medicine system, but this is to be able to empower oneself and have the confidence to treat some of the basic things in the home.
Jennifer Dopazo: I love that.
Dana Eudy: It’s very empowering. It’s beautiful.
Jennifer Dopazo: I read online the following. I’m just going to quote you here for a second. “My vision and goals are to help others transform their medicine chest like they have done with their food pantries. I want to see others getting more comfortable with using herbs in their daily practice.” What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned trying to achieve this, trying to have people change their medicine cabinets and just use herbs and as you just said, have them at home?
Dana Eudy: I think a lot of people are really intimidated, and that is for good reason, because they are potent and they really have a lot of power. It’s getting over that initial fear. You do have to be really careful and really mindful. Using them in our food and using them in oils and using them as teas, I think, the herbs tend, at least in my experience, they’ve shown me the way. Just find a handful of herbs, things like lemon balm and milky oats and stinging nettles, which is one of my favorites. Tulsi is another one of my favorites. Just getting to know a few and finding ways to incorporate them in your home. Using them in cooking and, as I’ve mentioned, things like that.
In my experience, they’ve shown me the way.
Jennifer Dopazo: Are you extending it? It’s not a cabinet only anymore, as we traditionally know what it is. It’s everywhere in your home. You can cook with it, you can just take them in a tea.
Dana Eudy: I do in Ayurveda what is called abhyanga, which is applying a daily oil. I do it before I shower in the morning. I use sesame oil, I tend to use sesame oil in the winter, and then I’ll use more of a cooling oil, such as coconut, in the summer. A lot of times I’ll infuse them with herbs, I’ll infuse them with essential oils, which I use very mindfully. The idea is just figuring out ways to have them around me. I think they keep us well. They have a lot of wisdom and I really consider them our ancestors, our true ancestors.
Jennifer Dopazo: I think I told you this the first time we met. I had this idea that having a farm or just living here, this beautiful place, you would just wake up very early, do your stuff, and then you have the day just to like, I don’t know, do something else; but it is very busy, that’s something that I learned from you. I’m just wondering, how’s your day? What’s your routine?
Dana Eudy: I guess what I’ve learned through the experience of doing what we’re doing here at the Field is, my lifestyle is a lot more seasonal. Late spring, summer and early fall are really intense. It’s a lot of, you know, long hours on the farm. I’m blessed to have some amazing volunteers that come and help, but it is, it’s a lot of work. I don’t think we realize how much work it is to farm. People kind of talk about it … I often say in fact, it would be great if that was a community service, where teens had to …
Summer is really intense. We never get all of our work done. Through that process I’ve also learned that it’s a meditation in and of itself. You just learn that this day shall pass and the next day will come. Just as I see the plants, you know, begin as a seed, they come up, they have a life, and they recede, but they always come back again. It’s a process that’s quite beautiful, even though it’s a lot of hard work.
Jennifer Dopazo: That’s something that now I know.
I just want to talk about the transition from living in the city. You were living in Brooklyn with Michael and then you moved up here. What do you think was the biggest challenge for this change in your life?
Dana Eudy: I think honestly we’re still trying to figure out the transition. We’re still in a transition phase, to be really honest with you. Trying to figure out if this is a sustainable project. I have learned that I can look at the fields and say, I’ve gotten these plants in the ground, and that in and of itself is success. A lot of these flowers will be here, they’ve planted their seeds. A lot of them are perennials, they’ll continue to flourish. It is difficult to figure out how to farm, so we’ll still see where they journey leads us, I guess I would say. Which is a beautiful thing. I don’t regret anything by any means. I’m really happy to be here. We have such an amazing community and I’m happy to have had the chance to do this work in the capacity that I’ve been able to do it in.
Jennifer Dopazo: Wonderful. What would be the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
Dana Eudy: I guess the biggest lesson is really to try to take time to enjoy the day and realize how precious life is. I know a lot of that sounds maybe, what’s the right word, cliché, but we are surrounded by so much beauty. Really just trying to find the time to take in and savor the moment and breathe. There’s so much stress and so much anxiety, and I think it’s really important to try to take a step back every now and again and realize how precious life is.
Jennifer Dopazo: That’s something that of course being in nature, having this different lifestyle, it’s something that’s more obvious, right?
Dana Eudy: Hands down. I often will tell people who are quite ill, go to nature. I really feel like there’s a lot of healing that comes just in spending time in nature. I really think it’s valuable. I think the seed of our intuition, the seed of creation, I really think that there’s a lot of powerful medicine just by being in nature, for sure. Hands down.
Jennifer Dopazo: Wonderful.
Michael mentioned in an interview online that herbalism takes a village. I know now that you guys offer internships and you have people here helping you with the farm. I’m just wondering, how did this happen? Did they come to you because they wanted to learn more, or it was your initiative because you wanted more people to be involved in this whole world of your farm?
Dana Eudy: There were a lot of forces that kind of came together all simultaneously. Herbalism is growing and it’s really exciting to see. Of course it’s always been here, but a lot more people are becoming aware and interested and exciting about using botanical, plant-based medicine. I think so many people are getting dried herbs, and of course I want to create a space where they can come and experience the plants and see them and know what they look like from seed all the way to being harvested. That’s a big part of the mission here.
In addition to wanting to create a space where people can come and learn and actually experience the plants, it’s also just a matter of needing help because we can’t do this all. It’s important that it takes a village. I think that’s a big part of any work that anyone does. We have to come together as a community if we want to see something happen, regardless of what line of work it is.
Jennifer Dopazo: Let’s talk about family for a second. I know that your motivation to move here was also just to provide your children with this surroundings and this life experience. I just wondered, how did that family routine change? Did it change at all? What’s different now?
Dana Eudy: I think here my kids have a certain sense of freedom. It’s really interesting to see that, because that coupled with the fact that they can identify herbs, which is really a beautiful thing … I think when you have that knowledge … For me it was really difficult, as I mentioned, getting herbs. I was getting them in the mail. It’s like, they know that they can just take a walk and they’ll be walking through what can be medicine. It’s a very different mindset to have at a young age. At one point, it’s something our grandparents certainly had. They knew that, I need to go get something from the yard. It was just how it was done, so that’s a really cool thing to see and witness.
Jennifer Dopazo: Do you have any tips for those that want to start including herbs in their lives? For instance, what would be the one thing that I could do today just to get herbs in my life and just change my cabinet?
Dana Eudy: One of the best entry points I feel like that a lot of times, more like Chinese medicine or Ayurveda I guess you could say, would, one of the starting points, which I think is good … Also Western, Western herbalism … but bitters. Incorporating more bitters into our diet, I think is just such an important facet to overall health. A lot of times it’s a place where practitioners will start. Finding ways to incorporate more bitters, it’s a fantastic way to go. I usually start my day with warm water and bitters, and I love it. It’s transformational, and it’s basic. It’s really easy to do.
Jennifer Dopazo: That’s the one thing that I’m going to start doing then, now. Thank you for that.
For those wanting to pursue a life, a career like you did, in an apothecary or with herbalism, what would be the resources? How would you suggest them to start with it?
Dana Eudy: If you can find a local herb grower, that would be a really great way, because I know they can always use the support and the help on the farm. If you don’t have one of those locally accessible, there’s a lot of great opportunities online. There’s even a lot of great programs popping up, a lot of the schools are starting to have accredited programs. It’s becoming much more recognized, which I think is really exciting. I think we’re going to see a pretty big change in the next five to ten years, like we’ve seen with acupuncture, let’s say.
Jennifer Dopazo: Why do we need Field Apothecary in our lives?
Dana Eudy: One of the things, I think, that makes us really quite special is that we are seed to bottle. I really like that about the products that we’re making. Of course we do buy in some, there are a handful of herbs that we aren’t able to grow here. I really make a point to have at least one herb in all of the remedies that actually come from our farm. I really like that part about Field, and I think it really makes our products quite special.
Jennifer Dopazo: I love the idea of from the field to the bottle.
Dana Eudy: Exactly. The plants are really the heroes. (dog barking) (laughter)
Jennifer Dopazo: Someone came to visit.
Dana Eudy: The plants are really the heroes. They’re really the ones that I feel like are the stars. I’m a conduit, that’s my role.
Jennifer Dopazo: What’s next for Field Apothecary?
Dana Eudy: In working with the plants, there is always so much that comes. What’s next, we hope to eventually have some kind of a farm stay here. I think that would be a really nice way for people to be able to come and experience the farm and be able to stay here. We’re talking about maybe converting a small space here for people to come and spend the night, that’s one idea. Then, who knows? There’s lots of opportunities. It’s really endless to think about all of the potential that we have, I feel like, here at the Field.
Jennifer Dopazo: I can see how some sort of residency would be very popular. You could just come here and work with you … You get the help that you need, but also it’s like introduction, and getting that education and knowledge.
Thank you Dana, it’s been a pleasure to be here. I just love … The drive was beautiful, your farm is amazing. It’s just been such a gift to spend a day here, that I’m just very grateful for you hosting us here.
Dana Eudy: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you guys making the drive up, and sharing what we’re doing, sharing the goals, sharing the plants. I would love to send you off with a bag of herbs for you to take, so I think we should try to harvest some before you go.
Jennifer Dopazo: I’d love to try that.
Dana Eudy: Fantastic.