At The Botanical Bus Farmworker Clinic: 88% of Latine and Indigenous clients report acute stress in the form of anxiety, depression and fatigue. 36% of this group identify their stress as debilitating. We believe that this mental health crisis needs to be met with culturally relevant care– care that empowers wellbeing though self-healing.
Culturally relevant care honors our abuelita’s knowledge of plant medicine for calming the nerves and easing a cough. It honors the way the earth smells where we were born. It allows us to feel seen, respected and capable of caring for ourselves.
Herbalism and massage therapy are at the heart of Latine and Indigenous healing traditions. At our clinics, we witness the power of these trusted and effective therapies to connect people to a vital sense of self and place.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Agromedicine: of the 20% of Farmworkers who access massage therapy, 85% seek treatment for an acute condition and 100% feel the treatment is very helpful. And of the 65% of Farmworkers who use herbal medicine, 79% seek treatment for an acute condition and over 90% have found them very helpful. (Arcury, Furgurson, O’Hara, Miles, Chen and Laurienti)
“Me siento mucho mejor. Vine estresada y angustiada y me voy mucho mas liviana. I feel much better. I arrived stressed and anxious and I am leaving feeling much lighter”, shares a recent client of The Botanical Bus Farmworker Clinic.
At our clinics, clients are welcomed with music, tamales and herbal agua frescas. Care stations are staffed by bilingual, bicultural practitioners who provide massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, somatic therapy and clinical herbalism. Promotora Community Health Advocates lead wellness workshops on diabetes support, stress relief and immunity- all topics determined by community needs assessment.
Culturally relevant care empowers people to embody their intergenerational knowledge of health and to seek out complimentary and conventional mental health therapies. Our Latine and Indigenous community face disproportionate exposure to toxic stress from social determinants of health including economic security, immigration status, access to health insurance, safe home and work environments. By investing in Promotoras and culturally relevant health care, we take a stand for health equity and send a strong message “Our knowledge and power to care for ourselves and our community is part of who we are and where we come from.”
Thomas A. Arcury, Katherine F. Furgurson, Heather M. O’Hara, Kenya Miles, Haiying Chen & Paul J. Laurienti (2019) Conventional and Complementary Therapy Use among Mexican Farmworkers in North Carolina: Applying the I-CAM-Q, Journal of Agromedicine, 24:3,257-267, DOI: 10.1080/1059924X.2019.1592049
Over warm bowls of Chupe de Pescado (Peruvian fish stew), I sat down with our newest team member and The Botanical Bus’s Clinic Coordinator, Yatziry Galvan, to learn more about what inspired her to serve her community and embark on a new journey of herbalism.
At the sound of rain, Yatziry is transported back to family dinners on the beach in Oaxaca. After a long day of work, her grandparents would take little Yatziry to watch the sun set into the Pacific, rain or shine. Yatziry’s large brown eyes smile as she recalls this memory, one that is filled with such warmth, love and security.
Yatziry lived in a small village near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. Her parents entrusted her to the care of her grandparents so that they could seek out economic opportunities for their family in Napa, California. Each day,Yatziry would help her grandmother at their barbacoa stand, marinating the chivo (goat) meat her grandfather had butchered, and then steaming it all day long. The vapor from the pot would radiate out through holes of the clay top, warming tortillas for the next customer. Yatziry remembers the mouthwatering combination of juicy chivo, soft tortillas, salsa verde and a squeeze of lime. Though they did not have a lot of money, this was a very happy time in Yatziry’s life.
Starting a New Life
When Yatziry was seven years old, her parents brought her to the US to live with them in Napa, California. They were able to place her in a bilingual school, easing her transition, but certainly not eradicating the tremendous culture shock she experienced. The following year, she changed schools. Being one of the only Latine kids at the school, she felt isolated not only culturally, but also linguistically because she did not speak English. Napa then and now, is a town of tremendous economic disparity between the vineyard owners and the farmworkers who tend their vines, and Yatziry’s elementary school was no exception to this socioeconomic chasm. Though both of her parents worked all of the time, they were paid very low wages, and so money was tight. Yatziry remembers having very few clothes, and the ones she did have were ill-fitting.
This feeling of being an outsider in a foreign land continued on until her freshman year of high school when Yatziry slowly began to feel at home in Napa. Yatziry attests that a key person in this transition was her best friend, Marisol. Though Marisol had moved away from Napa when they were in elementary school, Yatziry was thrilled to see Marisol reappear in her freshman art class. Marisol helped Yatziry navigate the challenges of being bicultural, bilingual and low-income in a town that was monocultural, monolingual and expensive. As Yatziry’s confidence and sense of belonging began to build, one thing became very clear to her—if she wanted to break free from the harsh economic realities that her hardworking family faced, she needed to go to college.
A dedicated student, Yatziry was excited to begin the process of applying for college her senior year of high school. She was devastated to find out from her college counselor and teachers that her dream of going to a four-year institution was not possible because she was undocumented. Despite door after door closing on her goal of going to college, she remained resolute to pursue higher education. She then found a new scholarship called TheDream.US inspired by the DREAM Act that would cover the costs of attending college. Yatziry shared that she was the first student to receive this scholarship at Sonoma State University, which inspired her to work at the school’s Dream Center, and as a student ambassador where she helped other undocumented students navigate higher education and helped inform high school students how to apply for and finance higher education.
Yatziry completed her first two years at Napa Valley College and then was able to transfer to Sonoma State, where she graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration with Cum Laude Honors. During her time at Sonoma State, Yatziry was awarded both a national and state fellowship. She continued her work empowering other undocumented students to seek educational opportunities, as well as her younger siblings and cousins. Yatziry smiled as she admitted that she made all of her younger family members take the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) course in high school, which helps prepare students for college and their careers. Reflecting on her youth, Yatziry shared,
“The struggles that my family and I faced, both economically and because of the language barrier really motivated me to help others in my community that might be facing some of the same challenges. My hope is to be that helping hand that I needed growing up.”
Yatziry’s Herbalism Journey
When asked about what lead her towards herbalism, Yatziry shared that she recently embarked on this journey this year when she decided to prioritize her mental health. She realized that after a lifetime of trauma, struggle and challenging familial dynamics, it was time to prioritize her own wellbeing, and so she booked her first trip to Maui. There she participated in a profoundly healing retreat based around meditation in nature that shifted her attention towards herbalism. Slowly, memories of herbal remedies that her grandmother utilized when she was a child began to come back. Yatziry shared,
“I think that herbal medicine has come into my life to reconnect with myself, with my roots, my ancestors, madretierra (mother earth) and to my community as well. Being a part of The Botanical Bus has brought me deep healing and it is so incredibly rewarding to be able to help create a bilingual, bicultural space where our community can come together to nurture each other.”
Recalling her birth story, Yatziry said that she owes her life to herbalism. Her mother had gone into labor when she was only seven months pregnant, and they lived over three hours away from the nearest hospital. While experiencing contractions, her mother hobbled onto the bus for the long ride to Jamiltepec, Oaxaca. When she arrived, all of the beds were full, and so she had to wait on the floor until a bed opened up for her delivery. Yatziry was moved to an incubator, but there was nowhere for her mother to stay so she continued to sleep on the floor after having just given birth. Eventually, her mother needed to return home to heal herself as well, so they took Yatziry home, tiny and weak. Yatziry’s grandmother told her that they used herbal remedios y recetas (remedies and recipes) to nurse Yatziry to health. Yatziry never learned the exact contents of those herbal remedies, and so her new goal is to spend more time with her grandmother, and write down her remedios y recetas. Thankfully, Yatziry’s grandmother was able to move to the US a few years ago, and so Yatziry tries to see her every week.
As The Botanical Bus’s Clinic Coordinator, Yatziry works directly with our Promotoras (Community Health Advocates) to facilitate Farmworkers Clinics and Wellness Workshops, as well as participate in our Promotora Training Program. She has been able to develop friendships with the Promotoras, who have been seminal in her herbalism education. At a recent Wellness Workshop Yatziry co-facilitated with Promotora, Lulu Pérez, she found herself drawn to Salvia (Sage). As Lulu and her discussed the healing properties of this plant, a hummingbird buzzed by, dipping its perfectly designed beak into the Sage flower and relishing in its sweet nectar. Yatziry paused mid-sentence to marvel at not only the beauty of this Joyavoladora (hummingbird or translated literally “flying jewel”), but the significance of seeing this tiny creature with an enormous heart at this particular moment: her grandmother adores hummingbirds.
In Sonoma County, Latine residents make up 1/3 of the population and almost 80% of COVID-19 infections. Our most vulnerable essential farmworkers, domestic workers and day laborers face overcrowded living conditions, unsafe work environments and limited access to financial relief and medical care. Without an intervention, infection rates will increase as farmworkers and other low-wage, immigrant workers experience higher rates of co-morbidities for COVID-19, such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stress, hunger and malnutrition.
In the face of this disproportionate, deepening health crisis, we will organize 20 clinics over 12 weeks of grape harvest at vineyard worksites, day labor street corners, COVID-19 testing sites and family resource centers throughout Sonoma County. The mobile clinic will provide 500 Latine immigrant farmworkers, domestic workers and day laborers with:
Herbal care kits for immunity, stress relief and respiratory health
COVID-19 personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer
Evacuation kits and emergency preparedness trainings
Manual pain therapy including massage and acupuncture
Tamales and medicinal herb agua frescas
The Farmworker Clinic will engage promotora community health workers in the establishment of trust and culturally relevant care. We will provide a comprehensive health resource referral guide to connect our Latine community with long-term, continuous care and ongoing opportunities for empowerment.
Este otoño, The Botanical Bus: Bilingual Mobile Herb Clinic se unirá con Lideres Campesinas, Nuestra Comunidad y La Plaza: Nuestra Cultura Cura en la organización de una clínica para trabajadores agrícolas.
En el condado de Sonoma, los residentes latine constituyen 1/3 de la población y casi el 80% de las infecciones por COVID-19. Nuestros trabajadores agrícolas, domésticos y jornaleros más vulnerables se enfrentan a condiciones de vivienda abarrotada, entornos laborales inseguros y acceso limitado a asistencia financiera y atención médica. Sin una intervención, las tasas de infección aumentarán a medida que los trabajadores agrícolas y otros trabajadores inmigrantes de bajos salarios experimenten tasas más altas de comorbilidades por COVID-19, como asma, diabetes, obesidad, enfermedades cardíacas, estrés, hambre y desnutrición.
Frente a esta crisis de salud desproporcionada y cada vez más profunda, organizaremos 20 clínicas durante 12 semanas de cosecha en los viñedos, las esquinas de los jornaleros, los sitios de prueba de COVID-19 y los centros de recursos familiares en todo el condado de Sonoma. La clínica móvil proporcionará a más de 500 trabajadores agrícolas, trabajadores domésticos y jornaleros latinos inmigrantes:
Botiquínas herbales para la inmunidad, el alivio del estrés y la salud respiratoria
Equipo de protección personal COVID-19 y desinfectante de manos
Entrenamientos de preparación para emergencias
Acceso a terapia manual del dolor, incluidos masajes y acupuntura
Tamales orgánicos y agua fresca de hierbas medicinales
La Clínica Campesinx involucrará a las promotoras de salud en el establecimiento de confianza comunitaria y cuidado culturalmente relevante. Proporcionaremos una guía de referencia de recursos de salud integral para conectar a nuestra comunidad Latine con cuidado continua a largo plazo y oportunidades continuas de empoderamiento.
Last week we gathered online in our separate homes to learn about “La Cosecha”, the harvest of medicinal herbs, from promotora de salud, Maria de Lourdes Pérez Centurión. The workshop brought us together on Zoom, 15 live square computer screens merged while some sipped their coffee, some prepared food for their families, and others gathered themselves for busy workdays ahead. Meeting people where-they-are-at has been at the heart of our work since the foundation of our mobile clinic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting people online in their kitchens, parked cars, and workplaces has ironically brought us closer to this commitment.
The power of this new connectivity was made very clear in our La Cosecha workshop. Participants joined us from Michoacán, Mexico and Cuidad de Mexico, San Francisco, California and all corners of Sonoma County. Our international workshop, originally scheduled for one hour, turned into three hours. We discussed the phases of the moon, the movement of water inside plants and ultimately the movement of water or life force inside all of us. We were moved to tears as we shared traumas and looked to each other for affirmation of our collective strength as women and mothers.
We found ourselves in the “same room”, a group of BIPOC and Latine women of all ages, creating a safe place to explore our power, our boundaries and opportunities for self-care. Our connection to the earth, plants and each other remains strong.
While we look forward to reconnecting in person, we are moved by the resiliency of our Latine community.
Una Historia de Resiliencia Latine: Conexión Durante COVID-19
La semana pasada nos reunimos en línea en nuestras casas separadas para aprender sobre la cosecha de hierbas medicinales, de la promotora de salud, María de Lourdes Pérez Centurión. El taller nos reunió en Zoom, 15 pantallas de computadora cuadradas en vivo se fusionaron mientras algunos bebían su café, algunos preparaban comida para sus familias y otros preparaban para los ajetreados días de trabajo que se avecinaban. Conocer a las personas donde se encuentran ha sido el núcleo de nuestro trabajo desde la fundación de nuestra clínica móvil. Durante la pandemia de COVID-19, conocer gente en línea en sus cocinas, automóviles estacionados y lugares de trabajo, irónicamente, nos ha acercado más a este compromiso.
El poder de esta nueva conectividad quedó muy claro en nuestro taller de La Cosecha. Los participantes se unieron a nosotros desde Michoacán, México y Ciudad de México, San Francisco, California y todos los rincones del condado de Sonoma. Nuestro taller internacional, originalmente programado para una hora, se convirtió en tres horas. Hablamos de las fases de la luna, el movimiento del agua dentro de las plantas y, en última instancia, el movimiento del agua o la fuerza vital dentro de todos nosotros. Nos emocionamos hasta las lágrimas cuando compartimos traumas y nos miramos mutuamente en busca de la afirmación de nuestra fuerza colectiva como mujeres y madres.
Nos encontramos en la “misma habitación”, un grupo de mujeres BIPOC y Latine de todas las edades, creando un lugar seguro para explorar nuestro poder, nuestros límites y oportunidades para el cuidado personal. Nuestra conexión con la tierra, las plantas y entre nosotros sigue siendo fuerte. Si bien esperamos volver a conectarnos en persona, nos conmueve la capacidad de resiliencia de nuestra comunidad Latine.
Promotora (pro-mo-tor-a): community health worker who is rising up to lead, advocate, educate, mentor, and translate health programming in their own community
After months of sharing recipes and shelter-in-place screen shots of potted plants, our team of Promotoras gathered in the fields for a healing harvest. Under the wide-open skies at Tara Firma farm with Mandalion Designs we knelt together in chamomile, tulsi and yarrow. Lulu called us together to give thanks to the four directions and offer our thanks to the plants. Her daughter and grandchildren helped to fill baskets of medicinal herbs to distribute to community. Angeles brought along a huge bag of dried comfrey (the primary ingredient in her healing salve…highly valued by her friends and family) to share. From between the rows we gathered Omega rich Purslane, while Norma shared her recipes for steaming the wild greens in salsa verde. Close to the earth: the smell of the sweet herbs, the scratchy summer grass, the sounds of blackbirds gathering to drive off a hawk were the real medicine.
We are honored to bring together this powerful group of women who heal with plants. All of our upcoming workshops will be led by Promotoras! ¡Sí se puede!
The Botanical Bus: Bilingual Mobile Herb Clinic and non-profit Daily Acts are distributing 1,500 garden kits to Latine community members experiencing food insecurity in Sonoma County. We are partnering with United Farm Workers, Graton Day Labor Center, La Luz Center, La Plaza, CAP Sonoma and Sonoma Valley Community Health to take action at their resource distribution sites.
We believe the COVID-19 gardening movement is rooted in a deep human instinct to cultivate resiliency through connecting to the earth. As we touch soil, tend plants and grow food we reclaim our power to nourish ourselves and our communities.
“Mother earth feeds us with her fruits and vegetables and heals us with her plants. It is impossible to live without them.” –Maria de Lourdes Pérez Centurión (Promatora, The Botanical Bus: Bilingual Mobile Herb Clinic)
The ready-to-go garden kits contain essentials for growing food and medicine, including: culturally relevant plant starts; vegetable and flower seeds; organic potting soil; GeoPot Fabric Pot planters; medicinal teas and bilingual educational gardening resources.
Thank you to our donors: West Marin Compost; Mercy Wellness; Sonoma County Climate Activist Network; Shone Farm; Petaluma Bounty; Mary Foley; The California School of Herbal Studies; Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, Left Coast Wholesale, Traditional Medicinals, and Tadin.
Join us by donating your time as a volunteer or by making a fiscal contribution to our work. ¡Sí se puede!
Donate $50 today to fund a garden kit for a community member!
The Botanical Bus: Bilingual Moblie Herb Clinic y Daily Acts están distribuyendo 1,500 kits de jardinería a los miembros de la comunidad Latine que están enfrentando inseguridad alimentaria en el condado de Sonoma. Estamos trabajando con United Farm Workers, Graton Day Labor Center, La Luz Center, La Plaza, CAP Sonoma y Sonoma Valley Community Health para tomar acción en sus sitios de distribución de recursos.
Nosotros creemos que el movimiento de jardinería durante COVID-19 tiene raizes fuertes en el instinto humano para nutrirnos y conectarnos con la tierra. A medida que tocamos la tierra, cuidamos las plantas y cultivamos alimentos, reclamamos nuestro poder de nutrirnos a nosotros mismos y a nuestras comunidades.
“La madre tierra nos alimenta con sus frutas y verduras y nos cura con sus plantas. Es imposible vivir sin ellas”.-Maria de Lourdes Pérez Centurión (Promotora, The Botanical Bus: Bilingual Mobile Herb Clinic)
Los kits de jardín listos para llevar contienen: plantas medicinales y alimenticias que son culturalmente relevantes; semillas de vegetales y flores; tierra orgánica; macetas de tela GeoPot; té medicinales y recursos educativos de jardinería bilingües.
Gracias a nuestros donantes: West Marin Compost; Mercy Wellness; Sonoma County Climate Activist Network; Shone Farm; Petaluma Bounty; Mary Foley; The California School of Herbal Studies; Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, Left Coast Wholesale, Traditional Medicinals, y Tadin.
Únase a nosotros donando su tiempo como voluntario o haciendo una contribución fiscal a nuestro trabajo. ¡Sí se puede!
¡Done $ 50 hoy para financiar un kit de jardín para un miembro de la comunidad!
Póngase en contacto con nosotros en email@example.com para ser voluntario.
Our first workshop in the community garden at Corazon Healdsburg felt like picnic lunch with old friends. We stared in the garden, harvesting Calendula flowers for next month’s medicine oil making workshop. Dozens of radical Calendula plants have broken free of their garden beds to take over the space, which consists of 20 something plots tended by neighborhood families. So far we have yarrow, california poppy, white sage, valerian, epazote, lemon balm, peppermint, and borage growing in abundance. Jose and Mercedes, who live around the corner, come everyday with their son to water.
At midday, we moved into the shade to exchange recipes and remedies for Type II Diabetes, a chronic disease that affects 11% of Latinos in Sonoma County. We focused on recent studies that show the correlation between stress and blood sugar. After scrawling cycles of pancreatic insulin production and cortisol levels on a small chalkboard, we exchanged family recipes for nopales asados (grilled cactus), verdolagas chile verde (purslane in tomatillo salsa), and tomatillo salsa with raw garlic . Nopales, verdolagas, and raw garlic are traditionally used in Mexico to reduce blood sugar levels in type II diabetics. We shared a potluck lunch of frijoles a la olla (beans from the pot), kale salad from the garden, watermelon and te de jamaica sweetened with local honey.
Over lunch we shared our stories of overcoming health challenges such as cancer, back pain, and chronic stress. In one particularly moving testimony of roots, resilience and recovery, a participant shared her process of realization that a traumatic event in her early childhood had led to chronic migraines and recent life threatening illness. There is powerful healing in this opportunity to share our stories and our paths to recovery.
We are so thankful for the open hearts and hardworking hands of the community gardeners and herbalists that are coming together for the Botanical Bus wellness workshops at Corazon Healdsburg!
One year after the devastating fires, we gathered with the Latine community at La Luz Center in Sonoma to nourish our lungs and heal from grief. We circled up in the kitchen, to share evacuation testimonies still alive with trauma and to prepare a batch of fresh Yerba Santa syrup.
Yerba Santa, a shrub native to California grasslands (especially those touched by wildfire, as its seeds germinate with heat), supports lung health by toning respiratory tissue. It’s sticky leaves are full of volatile oils that act as a powerful expectorant, helping to balance and soothe wet lung conditions. Yerba Santa is traditionally used as a sacred herb to free the breath and release deep sadness.
Lu Lu shared that she harvests fresh Yerba Santa and packs it in warm compresses for a wet cough. Others agreed that it makes an excellent addition to broths.
We mixed the Yerba Santa, with elderberry, rose hips, and thyme over low heat and the crowded kitchen filled with its warm, spicy scent. Stirring in local, raw honey, we passed around the finished syrup for all to try. Yerba Santa STRONG! An immunity syrup made in community that empowers our resilience and recovery!
Our growing group is making plans to visit eachothers gardens, share medicinal plant seeds, and prepare more community medicine.
In partnership with Sanación del Pueblo (Town Healing), a project of North Bay Organizing Project, we gathered in Roseland, Santa Rosa to learn about environmental toxins and how we can empower healthy communities.
Roseland is a 65% Latine neighborhood that ranks lowest in well-being of all Sonoma County neighborhoods according to the American Human Development Index (Burd-Sharps et al., 2014). Residents face limited access to secure income, healthy food, clean air, green spaces, and affordable healthcare.
Together we walked from the Dollar Store, to Roseland Elementary, across the creek, to Land Paths’ Bayer Farm, stopping to notice the pesticides sprayed along sidewalks and to discuss the quality of lunches served at our schools. We circled up, standing strong as a group of women committed to the health of our children and confident in our ability to do something about it. Si se puede!
We celebrate recent victories banning the spraying of Round Up pesticide in Santa Rosa City Parks and the unanimously vote by Sonoma County Supervisors to reduce use of synthetic pesticides on public land countywide. https://www.conservationaction.org/our-victories/
After our walk, we got busy chopping artichoke leaf, orange peel, dandelion root and milk thistle seeds, all plants that grow around us that can help our bodies eliminate toxins. The bitter leaves and roots support our liver in its innate clean-up functions.
Did you know the liver contains a unique enzyme system that co-evolved with plants, and that this system can detoxify just about everything we encounter now? Pharmaceuticals, pesticides, estrogens: Check! Rancid cooking oils, new car smell, stress hormones: Yup! Your liver breaks it all down.
The chopped plants were swept into jars, covered with organic cane alcohol and distributed to the group for safekeeping. Herbal medicine making requires the plant to macerate for at least a month before being pressed out for use. A month later we would come together to share our medicine and move forward as a community advocating for health justice!