Nikki Minor is the herbalist we all need. Passionate about demystifying the power of plants, she created (chicory.) zine to empower people to care for themselves and people they love using inexpensive, accessible ingredients.
Nikki shares more about her latest zine Plants for Liberation, including some her favorite tips and recipes she is using to find freedom, self-care, and self-sufficiency. We love her pickled garlic recipe.
What inspired you to write a zine about plants for liberation? What do plants for liberation mean to you?
Zines are an amazing way to create community and facilitate knowledge sharing. They are low cost, portable, and can be self-published. When I sat down to create the first issue of (chicory.) in 2018, it was important for me to create something that was accessible, actionable, and pocket-sized. My goal was to have folks walk away from reading (chicory.) and feel like they can prepare at least one herbal recipe for themselves or a family member.
Many herbalism books and courses are bulky, lengthy, and expensive. I see this as an accessibility barrier for many people. By having a repertoire of recipes using accessible and inexpensive ingredients folks can be empowered to care for themselves and their communities.
What makes herbalism a conducive practice for liberation?
I think herbalism can be liberatory for communities and individuals in different ways:
Right now, our healthcare system is inundated due to COVID-19. It is now more difficult and takes longer to schedule routine doctor’s appointments. This means that more acute health problems may have to be managed at home for longer periods of time while you navigate being seen by a doctor.
Then, when you think of all of those things in terms of race it becomes an important conduit for liberation. The communities that need inexpensive health support the most are those that have the least access to it: The uninsured, disabled, BIPOC, trans, queer, sex workers, housing-insecure folks, and immigrants. Members of these communities also face bias in the healthcare system.
In that sense, if you are an individual with a marginalized or intersectional identity, the simple act of making and preparing plant medicines can be an act of liberation. Plants provide communities and individuals with opportunities to be self-sufficient in the face of adversity. Plants have a lot to give and a lot to teach us.
How else do you choose the herbs you work with?
When working with herbs, one of the first things I ask myself are: What’s growing in my garden? What do I have access to? I also keep in mind that a lot of common kitchen herbs can be used medicinally. For example, thyme tea is excellent for upper respiratory issues.
I prioritize working with herbs that I’m growing because it is sustainable and eco-friendly. I also enjoy ethically harvesting native plants, like elderflower, plantain, goldenrod, skullcap, and blue vervain. When I work with plants in these ways, I feel I am much more in tune with the environment around me.
How do you incorporate plants for liberation into your own life/routine/self care practice?
Most of my work, lifestyle and self-care routines in some way revolve around plants. I do this through eating a plant-based diet, gardening, and making my own body products. One of the most empowering and fun things you can do is learn how to make a self-care or cleaning product. Not only will it save you money, it’s usually better for your body and the environment.
Are there any specific recipes you are leaning on for your own liberation right now?
That’s a great question! Here are some options that might work for some folks:
- Drinking green tea daily. Limit yourself to 1-2 cups.
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Drinking at least 64+ oz. water (or whatever half your body weight is).
- Make a big batch of pickled garlic. It’s a cheap and easy way to preserve garlic, and it’s great for colds and coughs:
What other projects are you working on right now?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I began offering free and at-cost herbal medicines. This is when the mutual aid apothecary began. It just felt like the right thing to do. So many people are needing support right now and I want to show up how I can.
Currently, my garden is a pretty big focus. A goal of mine has always been to grow all the herbs I use in my products and to supplement what I can’t grow from BIPOC-owned herb and tea businesses. It’s been a 3 year labor of love and I’m happy to say I’ve made it happen.
Where can we go to learn more about your work?
For anti-racist resources, and to learn more about the work I do in the community, folks can check out my linktree. The easiest way to get in touch with me is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram.
If you learned something new, shared this link with a friend, or find yourself returning to these recipes and tips, support her work via Venmo, Cashapp, or Paypal.