I'm Jess Turner, a New York City-based herbalist, gardener, farmer, educator and wild foods enthusiast. Through Olamina Botanicals I offer herbal consultations, workshops, plant walks and gardening classes.
I have studied herbal medicine at the Terra Sylva School of Botanical Medicine, taken classes at ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism and apprenticed with the following herbalists and folk healers: Tane Datta of Honaunau, Hawai'i; Ben Schwartz of Webatuck, New York; Adam Flores of Vieques, Puerto Rico; and Janet Kent and Dave Meesters of Marshall, North Carolina.
I continue to pursue study in topics such as anatomy and physiology, phytochemistry, field botany, mycology and nutrition. Relevant courses include Tammi Sweet’s Materia Medica Cannabis, Mimi Hernandez’s Understanding Medicinal Plant Constituents and Sade Musa’s Sankofa: Reclaiming Healing Traditions of the African Diaspora.
Herbalism is a lifelong, non-linear practice and study. I am fortunate to walk this path, and view each encounter that I have with a plant—both familiar and new—as an opportunity to deepen my practice.
In addition to my plant work, I serve as a peer educator for the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC), an organization working to build and strengthen the network of democratically-run, worker- and community-owned economic, cooperative housing and local banking enterprises throughout the Five Boroughs.
The cracks are where the light gets in. I came to plant medicine after a decade as a student activist and social justice worker experiencing various hallmarks of burnout: fatigue, acute anxiety and fainting spells from exhaustion and overwork. Strengthening my connection to the plant world helped me begin to heal deeply, inhabit my body and address harm built-up from years of emotionally-taxing, sedentary work.
I grew up in Maryland between the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, enchanted by the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay from as early as I can remember. My most vivid memories from childhood involve wandering in the woods,collecting/nibbling flora of interest and gardening with my grandmothers. Returning my attention to the earth as a grown person, in plants and in the land I re-discovered a realm of magic, immense beauty, mutualism and peace. With ancestors who were kidnapped and enslaved, terrorized post-Emancipation and forced to flee the rural South in search of safety; with Black people today surveilled, exploited, red-lined, criminalized and shut-out from not only economic opportunity but also opportunities to connect with that which sustains life, yet still able to find joy, I walk the path of the plant healer exalting in the privilege of having arrived at a place where I can be of service.
Learning to be in community with non-human nature continues to expand my consciousness, fortifying me in the ongoing struggle to dismantle what bell hooks calls the "imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy."
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide its citizens access to universal healthcare. In a system where white skin, citizenship, money, ability, heterosexuality, masculinity and hierarchy define who receives the best care, I offer my work as an accessible, affordable option for both those who have slipped through the cracks, and those who seek a deeper connection to their bodies and the Earth.