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Meet Gina Ross of Sentient Kin Apothecary in Altadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Ross.

Gina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to herbalism in 2007 while working at a health food store. I became immersed in alternative healing through food, supplements, and herbal medicine and felt an immediate affinity for the plants, eager to learn their names and how to identify them and the power they held. At that time, I was struggling with adrenal stress that had become a real obstacle for me. I went on a high-dose regimen of adaptogenic and nervine herbs and within a few months felt like I had returned to myself–it felt miraculous. The power of plant medicine opened me to the dynamic potential of healing through the magic of chemistry and the wisdom of plants and fungi. Since that time, I have studied the teachings of herbalists Michael Moore, Richo Cech, Rosemary Gladstar and more and have engaged in extended coursework at the Chestnut School of Herbal Studies, as well as absorbing the teachings of various witches I have crossed paths with at gatherings, conferences, and in the gardens and farms I have worked.

I have a certification in permaculture and apply the principles to all aspects of my life and the gardens I cultivate. I believe so strongly that regenerative practices are intrinsically linked to the healing and thriving of all beings.

I work actively with my local seed library to educate and invite in community members to the work of organic gardening and seed-saving. Empowerment and sovereignty by way of growing food, medicine and habitat is our lifeline to one another and community resiliency!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I suppose it has been a fairly smooth road because I have been working very slowly towards my goal but I definitely have struggles! My struggles look like not having the time I’d like to dedicate to the apothecary side of the business–being out in the garden, wildcrafting, harvesting, and processing demands priority because the plants and seeds have to be watered and tended to on their time (it is intensive in the spring to summer months), with the seasons, and at their peak potency. I also run into this conundrum of not wanting to monetize plant medicine which makes funding this operation a bit tricky. In my heart, I believe this is the people’s medicine and that the plants are sovereign beings…however, living under capitalism and not self-sufficient means I need to make a living. I do love working with barter, trade, and gifting with fellow makers and farmers!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sentient Kin Apothecary – what should we know?
I make medicine with plants! I work, primarily, with plants that I’ve grown, tended to, or harvested myself. I would love to be 100% grown in-house one day. I’m most proud of how DIY Sentient Kin is–it allows for my hands to touch every aspect of the product, from planting the seeds, caring for the plants, harvesting them, hanging them to dry all around my house, blending and formulating, washing each bottle, formatting and printing each label, saving seeds to plant next year, etc. It’s a labor of love but it allows for me to connect to the medicine in a deep way–the medicine becomes about more than just “a product.” I really get a sense for the plants, how they smell and taste, how deeply green and brown and red they turn when they’ve macerated in alcohol or oil, how they grow in the garden, which pollinators love them, what they look like when they bloom and when they die…we develop a relationship. This and so much more is what someone gets when they open a bottle of medicine and I like that.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My values are my true North. I’m deeply committed to “right relationship” with the plants and their ecosystems and our social ecology around these green friends. I will not ever choose profit over relationship.

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Image Credit:

Kendra Smith

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