I will never forget the first time I went mushroom hunting. It was late summer in New Mexico, the monsoons had just swept by flooding us with rain and bringing everything to life. My mother handed me a small pocket knife and a paper grocery bag and instructed me to head to the mountains to look for red boletes. I didn’t find any boletes that day, though I filled the entire grocery bag with a dozen other kinds of mushrooms. But what I did discover was a sense of purpose in the forest. A connection that reminded me what happens when you walk off trail and just listen. After that day, I became an avid forager. In Oregon, where I was living at the time, I would head out alone into the forest, digging wild ginger root under Redwoods, finding Hedgehog mushrooms beneath enormous red cedar logs. These experiences became the foundation for my work as a permaculture farmer and wild harvester.
Growing up in Santa Fe I was immersed in plant medicine. And though I grew up taking medicinal plants like Osha, Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Root, until I found these plants in the wilderness and connected what I was seeing with what I was taking, I didn't understand the purpose I had as an herbalist. In 2019, I returned to New Mexico after 13 years away, and completed a 250 hour certification in the foundations of Western Herbalism at Milagro School of Herbal Medicine. New Mexico is one of the most abundant and diverse ecological areas for medicinal plants in the country, and I am so happy to be home.
Loam is a clinical herbalism practice and a plant medicine shop, but it is also a keepsake, a totem of something bigger. I started loam to keep all of us connected to our roots, to the ground beneath our feet—the soil and life constantly surging around us. These ecosystems inform everything about our health, well-being, and existence on this planet. This business was born out of my desire to participate in the healing of the earth by empowering and inspiring other humans on this planet to take responsibility for their health and well-being.
Thank you for being here,
Halley Roberts Strongwater
photo by Brad Trone