Abby Artemisia, 34
Native plant specialist, Carriage House Farm
Why We Love Her: For her ability to create a public passion and respect for native plants — as well as teach us what we can (and cannot) eat in our own backyard.
After spending several months cooped up inside, immobilized, recovering from a back injury sustained during a car accident, Abby Artemisia had a realization: “I realized how vital nature is to my life, how much I missed it and how precious every moment is. … I realized I’d never be happy working inside and had to do something that fulfilled me.”
Her journey, which started at a farm in Oregon 15 years ago and continued through different colleges, the birth of her daughter and a tea company, ended when she found a Field Botany class at Miami University.
“I was hooked,” she says. Her professor became her mentor, she helped teach classes and then she serendipitously found Kate Cook, garden manager at Carriage House Farm.
Carriage House Farm, a sixth generation North Bend family farm run by Richard Stewart — “who’s willing to try almost anything once when it comes to farming,” she says — focuses on sustainable and creative gardening. And today Artemisia works as Carriage House’s Native Plant Specialist to help diversify the supply of native plants on the farm. She forages native and wild edibles and propagates these plants on the farm for a lifetime of consumption.
She also educates the public through nature walks. “I love seeing the excited faces of adults and children learning something amazing about plants that grow right in their own backyard, but they’ve never noticed before,” she says.
How do you define passion? What are you most passionate about?
Connecting and reconnecting people with nature is what I’m most passionate about. In the book Last Child in the Woods, the author talks about his teacher friend who believed that you cannot conserve what you cannot name. That is what I’m trying to do, create the bond between people and nature. When someone knows the name of a plant and that they can eat it and use it as medicine, they’re not as likely to look at it as an inanimate object to be eradicated.
It’s Friday night after a long week. Where would you love to be?
I’ll be at the Friday Frolic in the Forest, the weekly nature walk I lead through LaBoiteaux Woods [in Northside]. I really do love it, too! My intention is to make it every Friday so we can see the changes of the season. There’s a lot of plant diversity at LaBoiteaux, and the fact that [the walk] is donation-based makes it accessible for everyone to learn about and connect with nature.
Finish this statement with five of your favorite things: “I love…”
The woods, my family, community, friends’ lovingly grown and made-local products (farm-grown produce, Grateful Grahams, Fab Ferments, Chocolats Latour) and a good cup of tea.
What do you love about Cincinnati?
I love that my roots are here. I love that Cincinnati is always on the brink of something. … I love the Lloyd Library! It’s a botanical treasure that is famous worldwide and virtually unknown locally.
Name someone that you love: role model, best friend, inspiration, etc. And tell us why.
I’ve been getting to know and working with the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band at the Zane Shawnee Caverns in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I am inspired that, through years of persecution, they have never given up, but are always hopeful for the future.
Do you believe in love — love at first sight, lasting love?
I do! I believe in love at first sight, but also what a friend told me her mother told her once: If you see someone across the street and your heart starts beating out of your chest, run the other way! This is usually hormones and not love.
What phrase or motto do you live your life by?
“See the beauty in everything and everyone, look as if from new eyes; be grateful.” Doing this makes it tough to criticize, be intolerant, complain or take anything for granted.