The Vervain Collective, in the Roots Zero Waste Market in Garden City, started as a collective that supports what it calls the natural health community. The storefront is filled with little bottles of bitters, tinctures, plants, teas, herbs and organic skincare, but the shop also offers a lot more. The collective opened in September 2019, after owners Nicole Pierce and Kelsey Jay had been working on the concept for some time.
“The idea is a plant pharmacy that’s inside of a grocery so that people can get their needs met in one place,” said Jay. “The history of human culture involves our use of plants that support us. We always joke that when people come at first they just kind of hang by the door and we’re like, ‘Come on in.’ We are for everyone from professionals in the industry, to people starting to learn from scratch.”
The collective is more than just getting plant, or as it’s called, complementary medicine, although it does carry over 200 different plants herbs. Vervain does have an apothecary, someone who prepares and sells plant medicines, but it also offers a personal approach. It has a consulting room, offers classes and has a variety of holistic professionals that work in different areas. From Pierce, who is a board certified and Idaho licensed naturopathic physician (NMD), to people who specialize in Rolfing, a kind of massage, and Reiki, a healing technique based on touch.
Naturopathic medicine is a method of treatment where natural medication is used in lieu of pharmaceuticals to help the body heal. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians is the national organization for licensed naturopathic physicians who are graduates from four-year doctoral programs from federally accredited schools and who have passed a national licensing examination, according to the Idaho chapter.
Pierce said there’s a world of things people can do between nothing and pharmaceuticals and surgery, and that plant medicine can work together with traditional medicine to help people feel better.
“We are not anti-science; all plant medicine is science,” said Pierce. “We use the words conventional, for traditional medicine, and complementary, for holistic approaches. We can’t give medical advice; that being said, I have general guidelines and you can use both. Complementary medicine helps the body prepare for day-to-day problems, and everyone is different. We tailor to people’s individual needs. This is not symptomatic-based medicine; it’s not just about covering things up to feel better. We hope people get to have more of a relationship with plant medicine so they can use it to help them on a daily basis.”
Pierce and Jay met in a dance class. Jay is a lawyer who has always been drawn to plant medicine; she said she’s had the idea for a while. Pierce found out about it, and the two went for it. They both still work their other jobs, but Jay said, “We fell in love and stuck together.” After that they assembled a team, called shop stewards, and the herbalists who work there now have also created many of the store’s custom tea blends. Now Vervain ships products all over the country, and locally has created a space for holistic professionals to get what they need and for novices to get started.
They decided to call it the Vervain Collective because, as Pierce said, “it’s a great plant. It’s simple and beautiful but grows all over because people have been using it for so long.” The vervain plant, more commonly known as verbena, grows over 250 different species almost worldwide. As a plant medicine, it has a variety of uses. It’s touted as an herb that can help sinus problems, inflammation, gum disease and even depression. There isn’t a lot of scientific research; however, scientists are conducting studies, and different research is showing that there appears to be benefits.
The collective carries a wide variety of products, most of them local. People can get a consultation and a custom tea or tincture made, as well as shop for clothes, aromatherapy and essential oils, bitters and syrups, books, cards, art, stuff for kids, and plants and herbs that can help with different problems like sleep, digestion, immune and respiratory support and much more. It also has a varied price point; customers can spend $5 or hundreds of dollars. People can look for upcoming classes, schedule an appointment and shop on the website, the store also offers contactless pick-up and delivery. Pierce and Jay also welcome people to stop in and see what it’s all about.
“All of our grandparents knew about the benefits of plants, and it’s still a big part of other cultures but we’ve kind of lost that in our society,” said Pierce. “We’d like people to consider this place and give it a try. Who doesn’t want to feel better?”