Profiles: Douglas Elliott, Julie Reynolds and Dennis Rule

Learn how Douglas Elliot is a herbalist, Julie Reynolds uses a solar oven to cook and Dennis Rule practices the ancient art of coopering.

| May/June 1977

Herbalist: Douglas Elliott

Douglas Elliott — known simply as "the herb man" to many — makes his living selling, writing about, and drawing pictures of plants that most people take for granted ... or never notice at all. Doug Elliott is an herbalist.  

"I've always been interested in nature," Doug explains. "Even as a youngster, I could identify most all the birds, animals, and trees in the forest, although it wasn't until years later — as a struggling artist-homesteader in northern New Hampshire — that I got hold of a field manual and started in on wildflowers and roots."

Five years ago, Doug Elliott was invited to display his paintings at a folk festival ... and he was asked to bring his herbs. "I figured it couldn't hurt," Doug says, "since my paintings rarely sold anyway. So I brought a few jars of mint, sassafras, Saint-John's-wort, and yarrow . . . and people really loved it! I actually made a little money, too. Five years later, I'm still selling my herbs at fairs and festivals ... and getting a great response."

But can a person actually make enough money to live on just by selling herbs and herb products at craft shows and folk festivals? Elliott: "Yes! Of course, I live very minimally. I have `low overhead': just a vehicle to maintain, and I do most of the work on it myself. Also, I forage at least a portion of my diet. But I am getting some other plant related gigs together to supplement my present income."

The "gigs" Doug is referring to are the lectures and workshops he's been giving to East Coast college and high school (and other) groups. Doug is a superb wildlife photographer and has put together a series of outstanding slide-illustrated presentations ... shows that — so far — have been extremely well received by his audiences.

Also, Doug has begun to write: He penned an article entitled "Conscientious Herb Gathering" and — more recently — authored a book called Roots: An Underground Botany and Forager's Guide.

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