Garden of Healing: Heirloom vegetables, medicinal herbs and a peaceful place in the neighborhood

Latin American medicinal herbs, heirloom vegetables and healing fruits and roots gather in a West Kensington plot, acting as a catalyst for neighbors to restore mental and physical peace. The plants growing in Tertulias Herb Garden are meant to comfort and heal. 

For garden-goers to reap these benefits, they too must gather, talk and, hopefully, remember their own roots. Iris Brown, founder of the garden, believes that if visitors don’t have a familial, cultural or culinary connection with a plant, its healing properties will be lost.

Neighbors in the Puerto Rican community for whom the garden was built may recognize herbs used by their grandmothers, like ruda, a purifying herb used for women’s health and arthritis. Puerto Rico has a strong herbal culture that Brown wants to preserve.

Health workers from the Community Health Collaborative will use what’s growing around them to “prescribe” heirloom vegetables that were planted because of their high nutritional property, and medicinal herbs to supplement mainstream recommendation.

With help from a recently awarded $600 grant from Philly STAKE, Tertulias Herb Garden will be completed in September.

by Julianne Mesaric