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Green Medicine > Spotlight on Members > Penny Frazier

Penny Frazier in the field.
Penny works in non-timber forest products sales and development and is a Certified Wild Organic Farmer.

Meet Penny Frazier: Goods from the Woods

Q: Describe your basic biographic information (where you live, where you grew up, what you do for a living, anything about you that helps people understand where you're "coming from").

A: It's funny that our family did not have any tradition or practice which would have laid a foundation for my love of plants and the beauty of life. I grew up in an urban area of Missouri. When as an adult, my family purchased a small farm in rural Missouri, I found there was a treasure trove of smells and sounds buried deep in my subconscious. After 40 years, the smells of the forest, the sounds of the birds and sight of the fireflies brought me back to places that had long been forgotten. Maybe it was a Girl Scout adventure or day camp of my youth. I don't know where my love for the wild things came from. Or maybe my love of wild things came from living in a city for 25 years, in the desert where the forests were few and precious. Or perhaps my love for wild things came from time spent in Alaska where there was a culture of vastness so large that wilderness would never cease to exist, but knowing from urban life that such thoughts were wrong.

I think I became dedicated to conservation through seeing the cavalier way in which the work of creation was being destroyed. It was as if one man or group of people had the right to thoughtlessly consume the magic and beauty from eons of creation – the natural gifts of life.

Some time ago, I realized we can choose to define ourselves and our lives by terms other than what we do for a living, albeit, that can be a part of the definition. I wanted to have a human experience that was full of purpose and meaning, defined by the values I chose. I gave myself a job, to find a way to protect as much of the work of creation as I could by using every tool was available to me in every way that made sense. Thus, I began to work with wild plants and wild plant products as a means of conservation.

Q: How did you become interested in medicinal plants?

A: When my daughter was young, I went to the health food store looking for something that would help her. The young man there had me try fennel for her condition and it worked while the medications prescribed by the doctors had not. I began to read and study about the ways plants were medicines. I began to use the plants to help with my conditions. I read a book called "The Secret Life of Plants," by Tompkins and Bird, which greatly influenced my thinking about plants and their relationships to people.

Q: Please choose the MPWG strategy element you are most aligned with and describe how you help fulfill this part of the MPWGs mission.

Elements of MPWG Strategy:

a. Generate and share information regarding species of medicinal and economic importance and conservation concern
b. Promote appropriate conservation measures for native medicinal plants
c. Promote sustainable production of native medicinal plant products
d. Increase participation in native medicinal plant conservation
e. Encourage active participation by Tribes and other holders of traditional ecological knowledge pertaining to native medicinal plants
f. Generate financial support for native medicinal plant conservation projects

A: I am engaged in many of the above MPWG strategies. As a certified wild organic farmer, I encourage the sustainable production of wild plants by harvesting in accordance to the wild organic certification program. Language from that program states that “A wild crop must be harvested in a manner that ensures that such harvesting or gathering will not be destructive to the environment and will sustain the growth and production of the wild crop.” (Section 205.207) I also promote wild crop certification as an alternative land use for small farmers in the Ozarks and share information regularly by delivering presentations promoting wild crop certification and the development of wild crops farm plans. My family works with our neighbors in creating biodiversity and sharing knowledge, harvesting ecotype seeds.

Q: What are your future aspirations or concerns with regard to medicinal plants?

A: The more I have learned about human economic needs and the destruction of natural resources that go toward meeting those needs, the more committed we have become to creating an economic incentive for conservation by increasing the demand for wild products. We are currently working on development of several wild plant products for small farms in the Ozark region. We believe that much of the habitat has been destroyed because people work at one job and also keep cattle as a second source of income. Almost all families in the region would rather have a parent at home and working on the land, but simply cannot afford it. We hope to demonstrate viable ways to work with land that may offset the habitat conversion and reduce the dependence upon cattle grazing to meet rural income needs.

Selected web links for Penny:

Penny's Contact Information:


14125 Hwy C
Licking MO 65542



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Last Updated: 27-Mar-2007