On April 5, 2022, The American Botanical Council (ABC) announced its 2022 Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award is our very own Emily Ruff. According to their announcement, recipients are, “individuals who have played a significant role in creating a sense of community among herbalists, botanical researchers, members of the herb and natural products communities and industries, and others who work in the area of medicinal and aromatic plants.”
We want to congratulate Emily for her award, and share with our community how remarkable an herbalist and leader she is, and what makes her the exemplary embodiment of the individual described by ABC. Her achievements and accolades are as long as her career, which has been over two decades running. Her botanical background began with lessons from her grandfather, a tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) farmer, and her father, a professor of botany and astronomy. (And we see those influences thriving today with Emily’s dual interests in teaching herbalism and her moon medicine circles.)
As a young adult, she traveled as far as Guatemala to receive tutelage under various healers in-situ. On North American soil, Rosemary Gladstar, Carolyn Whitford, and George D’Arcy took her under their wings and guided her forward. All in addition to studying Ethnobotany at the University of Central Florida, and curanderismo—Latin-American folk medicine— at the University of New Mexico.
A brief overview of her many contributions and achievements within our community at-large:
- Formerly a United Plant Savers board member;
- Founder of Florida Herbal Conference;
- Second owner of Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary in Orange, Vermont, purchasing it in 2018 from Rosemary Gladstar;
- Multiple terms as president of Florida Herbal Society;
- In the wake of the Pulse nightclub tragedy, she founded the Orlando Grief Care Project, which distributed hundreds of herbal remedies to our local traumatized community;
- And served as a member of the board of the Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm of the Standing Rock Siouz Reservation in North and South Dakota.
More about her directly from the ABC Advisory Announcement:
Rosemary Gladstar endorsed Emily for the award. “I was delighted to hear that Emily Ruff has been awarded the ABC Herbal Community Builder Award,” Gladstar wrote (email, March 17, 2022). “Having been the first recipient of this honorary award, I must admit, I have a certain affection for and attachment to it. I really can’t imagine a more fitting candidate than Emily. Though she is somewhat quiet and shy, and seldom calls attention to herself, Emily is an amazing organizer and networker. And she has worked overtime the past few years to build awareness of herbs and herbalism, not just within the herbal community, but in the broader community as well.
“As founder of The Florida School of Holistic Living and founder of the Florida Herbal Conference, Emily has helped create a sense of herbal community in the southeastern United States,” Gladstar added. “She also co-founded the Homegrown Local Food Cooperative in Orlando. Emily also served on the Medic and Healer Council [at Standing Rock] during the pipeline demonstrations [in 2016] and helped raise thousands of dollars that funded the community health clinic at Standing Rock during and after the demonstrations. An avid and dedicated plant conservationist, Emily has been an active member of UpS since its early days and also served as treasurer on the UpS Board of Directors. Currently, along with her herbal work, Emily devotes her time to wildlife and wilderness conservation.”
Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director, wrote: “I am pleased to choose Emily as the recipient of this year’s ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award. She was highly recommended by some of the previous recipients of this award, and after the opportunity of getting to know her a bit during the past few years, I understand their enthusiasm for their nomination, and I agree with their strong advocacy of her. Emily’s passion for herbs, people, and the plant-people interaction and her seemingly boundless energy are evident in her numerous herbal activities. She represents a younger generation of herbalists and their commitment to the idea of improved health via botanical medicine.”
Previous recipients of the ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award are Michael McGuffin (2020), president of the American Herbal Products Association; Mary Blue, Katheryn Langelier, and Nicole Telkes (2019), “The Fire Cider Three,” who successfully battled in court to keep “fire cider” a generic term; Linnea and Larry Wardwell (2018), organizers of the Medicines from the Earth and Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine symposia; Jon Benninger (2017), director of the annual SupplySide East and SupplySide West trade shows; Ikhlas Khan, PhD (2016), director of the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research; Michael Tierra (2015), herbalist, author, teacher, and co-founder of the American Herbalists Guild; Loren Israelsen (2014), founder and president of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA); Sara Katz (2013), co-founder of Herb Pharm and past president of UpS; and Rosemary Gladstar (2012).
The 2022 ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award was presented at the 17th Annual ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards Ceremony on March 9, 2022, in Anaheim, California, during Natural Products Expo West.
To read the full announcement on the American Botanical Council’s website, visit herbalgram.com