Well I’m home from Italy for over a week now, but I can honestly say that I was blown away by the hospitality of herbal businesspeople in Northern Italy and highly impressed by all they have achieved in the past 40 years.
A common theme was the inspiration and vision of one person who realized the value of herbal medicine for treating illness and for the benefit of local rural economies.
I visited the Herbal Museum in Aboca, it has been built up by the company over many years and is truly inspirational.
Aboca has been developing over 25 years and there was a real meeting of hearts and minds, with a shared vision and understanding of the role of herbal medicines. Many thanks to Christian and Paula who were delightful to spend time with. The growing and production of herbs has been streamlined over 25 years. An Irish industry will have a rapid learning curve. Obviously they have the full range of Meditteranean herbs suitable to their soil and climate. In Ireland we walk past our own herbs as part of our heritage on a daily basis and need to be reminded and re-learn the wonderful healing powers of our native herbs.
I also visited Specchiasol near Verona and again there is the story of sustaining local economies where the owner went back to his home place in the South of Italy to establish a herb growing industry that supplies herbs for Specciasol products. Again I was warmly greeted by Julio and given a tour of their production facilities.
I am considering my response to finding a way to have a working relationship with both companies, although they are very different, they have values of growing herbs and producing products of high quality. I would hope that we may be able to say the same thing about an Irish herbal industry in 25 years time.
Inspired by the Aboca museum I would like to start collecting any Irish herbal materials e.g. family herbals and books, herbal dispensary paraphernalia, pictures or oral history of herbal medicine in Ireland. For the moment we would catalogue them and store them if necessary for the future generations.
I am continuing in my efforts to create a framework of expertise that will promote the development of herbal growing and manufacturing of herbal products. Fundamental to this is the commitment to choice in healthcare. Everyone should have be offered a choice of natural remedies as well as pharmaceutical products if they suffer from health complaints.