George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver is one such liaison between plants and people. You may recall his name from your grade school days and associate it with peanuts, crop rotation, and cotton. But his story spreads much further than those well-known tidbits. Did you know that Carver was nicknamed ‘the plant doctor’ as a child because of his affection for the green world and his uncanny ability to nurse sick and dying botanicals back to health? His green thumb was verdant.

Born into slavery an orphan on a farm, Carver was a delicate child who dealt with illness often. Susan Carver, who raised George, introduced him early to the wonders of herbal medicines and had an extensive comprehension of what available plants were medicinal and what each did. George was soon captivated by the plant world and went on to become the first African-American man to earn a Bachelor’s of Science. Unsurprisingly, he focused his degree on the health of food crops, specifically soybeans. He later earned the moniker the ‘peanut man’ through the process of inventing over 300 peanut-based foods and industrial products, from the experimental (peanut oil massages) to those which are now staples (such as Worcestershire sauce). His conviction about the importance of human reliance on plants for everything from fiber to food to fuel created a legacy we herbalists walk in today. He believed, “We can learn to synthesize materials for every human need from the things that grow,” and he lived out that paradigm in his daily work connecting healthy plants with healing people