Hi, there. Welcome to Herbstead, a resource about the cultivation, culinary and medicinal uses of various plants.

I’m a home herbalist, hobby gardener, and herbal medicine maker. I live with my husband and two lovely black cats on about 2,000 m² (half acre) of land south of Hamburg, Germany where I grow several types of medicinal, culinary and ornamental plant. From these plants, I prepare delicious meals, decorate the house and fill our apothecary with homemade herbal medicine and cosmetics.

How it all started

As a child growing up in Brazil, I was exposed to herbal medicine from my mother. She suffered from a lazy gallbladder that made digesting fatty foods a challenge. From my mother, I learned about boldo, lemon balm, chamomile, peppermint and many other herbs. Even though she grew a food garden, I wasn’t at all interested in gardening. I was more a tree loving kid that preferred to hang out up a tree.

My interest in gardening started in the early 2000s when I lived in a house with a tiny garden and lots of shade. My interest remained just that until 2005 when I visited a lovely woman who would later become my sister-in-law. When I saw her garden, fell in love with it and saw myself, in my mind’s eye, caring for such beautiful gardens. Still, I had no chance to make my own due to lack of space. I remember growing what I could on my sunny kitchen window sill in my apartment in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That ended when I moved to Germany to marry my husband, Tjalf, who had a very unkempt garden. Not only I was going to marry the love of my life, I was also going to get the chance to have a garden.

Opportunity knocked

During our month long honeymoon trip to Canada, I got to meet Tjalf’s aunt at her Bed and Breakfast in Mattawa. At the time, she was a professional gardener and, to my delight, she took me along to some of her gardening jobs and gave me some seeds to take back home. She gave me the confidence I needed to start my own garden.

There is something about Germany that made me want to be closer to nature than I’d ever been while living in the States and in Brazil. Maybe it is the abundance of trees and gardens. Germany is the greenest country I’ve ever been to. It was a clear, undeniable calling that led me to pursue a deeper understanding about plants. It lead me to study herbalism.

I started studying herbalism on my own and soon discovered that there is a lot of conflicting information out there. In that world of information, I didn’t know who to believe. I realized that if I wanted to really learn and be confident about my knowledge I needed a trustworthy source. So, I decided to go to school. I attended Heilpflanzeschule Verden and there I met the more known German herbalists who have written several books on herbal medicine. I learned directly from Ursel Bühring, Michaela Girsch, Rosemary Gladstar, Robin Rose Bennett, Matthew Wood, Stephen Buhner, Leslie Tierra, Susun Weed, James Green, and many other herbalists who joyfully pass on their knowledge.

Now, it’s my turn, as a certified home herbalist, to joyously pass on my knowledge. This brings me to the reason why I’ve created this website. I want it to be an accessible and trustworthy place for herbal education.

So, welcome, again, to Herbstead – I hope you stick around! There is much to learn from the world of plants.

Cheers,
Giovanna