By Mary Reid Barrow
When visitors walk around herbalist Vickie Shufer’s Wild Woods Farm in Blackwater, they come upon large circles of shrubs here and there in the big grassy yard.
Not exactly flower beds, the circles are more like containment areas. They allow hyper-local native plants that grow naturally there, young and old, to thrive and re-seed in her yard without being mowed down.
“Each circle has its own theme,” Vickie told a group who was getting a tour of the area as part of a Green Farmacy workshop, sponsored by LRNow.
Vickie, who has her master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism, offers other programs and also sells native plants and herbal potions at her farm.
That day, she pointed out elderberry bushes, yaupon hollies (pictured above), winged sumacs, mosses, and blueberries among several other plant circles. The yaupon is the source of her yaupon tea that she sells to restaurants and shops around the beach.
Others are plants that she uses to make many of her medicinal and herbal concoctions, such as muscle rubs, lip balms, insect repellants, and more.
Vickie also grows a huge assortment of both natives and medicinal herbs on 11 acres of the “real” Wild Woods Farm she owns in North Carolina. She pots those plants and brings them to Virginia Beach to make her herbal potions and to sell at plant sales, or by appointment.
She offers programs, other than the Green Farmacy workshop, to the public at her Blackwater farm. Groups meet in her new screened in outdoor classroom.
Green Farmacy was all about how to make herbal infused oils and how to use those oils to make salves. Other programs include native plant walks and foraging walks where participants look for wild greens and berries to incorporate into recipes.
Vickie’s new shed/store where she sells many of her herbal remedies and teas is nearby. Her book, “The Forager’s Handbook,” also is for sale.
Many people will remember Vickie from her years as an educator at First Landing and False Cape state parks. Now she has her own education center right in Blackwater.