The Wendell Berry quote below summarizes the daily actions and aspirations of Jeff Bodony and Liz Mattenson, owners of Viriditas Wild Gardens. Upon meeting the couple last winter, I quickly realized they were diamonds in the rough. However, it was not until I visited Viriditas Wild Gardens and was introduced to its products that I understood to what degree.
Viriditas Wild Gardens is an all-encompassing title for the healing and medicinal powers of the herbs and products created by this dynamic duo.
Liz and Jeff moved to the Days Creek area seven years ago from Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. The decision to relocate to Oregon was largely based upon its warmer and longer growing season, which is needed for propagating medicinal herbs. These herbs are cultivated for Heron Botanicals, a wholesale company that is limited to health care practitioners. The couple purchased Heron Botanicals in 2001 with a business partner and friend, Eric Yarnell of Seattle, who has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. With the success of the company, the need for expansion was apparent and the diverse climate of Southern Oregon has proven perfect.
When looking at Jeff and Liz’s garden area, it is evident that each area is created to harbor a certain synergy among the plants. Jeff, the lead at seed saving and propagation, stresses the importance of plant germination under very specific conditions. Because of the variety of herbs grown, Jeff must simulate both freezing and natural fire germination for the success of the harvest the following season.
Jeff has a passion for growing a wide variety of peppers and holds a high level of knowledge in regards to the success of Viriditas crops. When not in the field, he hand builds a variety of musical instruments; the kora harp is one of his specialties.
More often than not, shoppers will see Liz at the farm markets. She produces more than 20 varieties of garlic, six types of herbal teas and sells fermentation crafts for krauts and kim chee. Cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, basil and eggs can also be found on the table of Viriditas Wild Gardens. Liz will have garlic braids in October and quite possibly basil-infused oils in the future.
It is obvious that Liz and Jeff are passionate about Viriditas Wild Gardens and have a love for the farm markets in our area. Jeff serves as a board member for the Canyonville Farmers Market, while Liz also represents their operation at the Grants Pass market. Both look forward to meeting the people who are supporting our farm markets and to seeing growth in the food systems of the Douglas County community. Thank you, Viriditas Wild Gardens, for helping our community eat fresh and for keeping it local.
Heather Barklow of Glide manages the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market and is the farm market promotion coordinator for Markets of the Umpqua, a program of NeighborWorks Umpqua. She also operates HB Horsemanship. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The care of the earth is our most ancient, most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope.
American writer, farmer