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ABC Presents 2022 Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award to Emily Ruff

AUSTIN, Texas (April 5, 2022) — The American Botanical Council (ABC) has presented its 2022 Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award to Emily Ruff, a community herbalist, director of Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary in Vermont, and founder and CEO of the Florida School of Holistic Living. This annual award is given to individuals who have played a significant role in creating a sense of community among herbalists, botanical researchers, members of the herb and natural products communities and industries, and others who work in the area of medicinal and aromatic plants.Ruff has practiced herbalism for more than two decades and is involved with many plant-related organizations and programs that engage the community. At an early age, her passion for gardening and botany grew while wandering the wilderness and digging in the soils of Florida with her grandfather, who was a tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) farmer and urban gardener, and her father, a botany and astronomy professor. She later learned from healers in Guatemala, from herbalist and author Rosemary Gladstar in the mountains of Vermont, and from herbalists Carolyn Whitford and George D’Arcy at the Florida apothecary Leaves & Roots. She studied ethnobotany at the University of Central Florida and curanderismo (Latin American folk medicine) at the University of New Mexico.Ruff has served on the board of the United Plant Savers (UpS), a nonprofit plant conservation organization that recently received ABC’s inaugural Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award. She founded the popular annual Florida Herbal Conference in 2012 and has served multiple terms as president of the Florida Herb Society. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, Ruff founded the Orlando Grief Care Project, which distributed hundreds of herbal remedies to the traumatized community. Ruff also has served on the board of the Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North and South Dakota. In addition to her passion for plants, she enjoys cooking, yoga, writing, photography, and music.In 2018, Ruff founded a nonprofit organization to purchase the Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary in Orange, Vermont, from Gladstar, who founded it in 1987. The sanctuary, which covers about 600 acres and abuts more than 100,000 acres of contiguous forest, contains multiple biodiverse ecosystems and hundreds of uncommon plant and animal species. It is “one of New England’s foremost conservation education centers,” according to its website. The sanctuary welcomes people to learn how to be better stewards of nature and offers online classes, self-guided day visits, guided tours, and private overnight retreats. Ruff and her work at Sage Mountain were the subjects of a 2019 article on the cover of the Business section of The Boston Globe.“I am humbled to be the 2022 recipient of the ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award,” Ruff wrote (email, March 16, 2022). “I stand on the shoulders of a long line of herbal community builders (especially Rosemary Gladstar, Steven Foster, and also the award’s namesake, Mark Blumenthal) and follow the pioneering paths that these trailblazers have carved out for future generations, including me, to walk along in our own herbal work. In a time when we are faced with so much personal and collective darkness, the plants are shining a bright light to illuminate our hearts and our paths forward. It is my sincere hope that herbal endeavors such as the Florida Herbal Conference, the Orlando Grief Care Project, and the continuation of the legacy at Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary can provide platforms for other herbalists to cultivate connection and open opportunities for service to their local and global communities.”Gladstar endorsed Ruff for the award. “I was delighted to hear that Emily Ruff has been awarded the ABC Herbal Community Builder Award,” Gladstar wrote (email, March 17, 2022). “Having been the first recipient of this honorary award, I must admit, I have a certain affection for and attachment to it. I really can’t imagine a more fitting candidate than Emily. Though she is somewhat quiet and shy, and seldom calls attention to herself, Emily is an amazing organizer and networker. And she has worked overtime the past few years to build awareness of herbs and herbalism, not just within the herbal community, but in the broader community as well.“As founder of The Florida School of Holistic Living and founder of the Florida Herbal Conference, Emily has helped create a sense of herbal community in the southeastern United States,” Gladstar added. “She also co-founded the Homegrown Local Food Cooperative in Orlando. Emily also served on the Medic and Healer Council [at Standing Rock] during the pipeline demonstrations [in 2016] and helped raise thousands of dollars that funded the community health clinic at Standing Rock during and after the demonstrations. An avid and dedicated plant conservationist, Emily has been an active member of UpS since its early days and also served as treasurer on the UpS Board of Directors. Currently, along with her herbal work, Emily devotes her time to wildlife and wilderness conservation.”Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director, wrote: “I am pleased to choose Emily as the recipient of this year’s ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award. She was highly recommended by some of the previous recipients of this award, and after the opportunity of getting to know her a bit during the past few years, I understand their enthusiasm for their nomination, and I agree with their strong advocacy of her. Emily’s passion for herbs, people, and the plant-people interaction and her seemingly boundless energy are evident in her numerous herbal activities. She represents a younger generation of herbalists and their commitment to the idea of improved health via botanical medicine.”Previous recipients of the ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award are Michael McGuffin (2020), president of the American Herbal Products Association; Mary Blue, Katheryn Langelier, and Nicole Telkes (2019), “The Fire Cider Three,” who successfully battled in court to keep “fire cider” a generic term; Linnea and Larry Wardwell (2018), organizers of the Medicines from the Earth and Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine symposia; Jon Benninger (2017), director of the annual SupplySide East and SupplySide West trade shows; Ikhlas Khan, PhD (2016), director of the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research; Michael Tierra (2015), herbalist, author, teacher, and co-founder of the American Herbalists Guild; Loren Israelsen (2014), founder and president of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA); Sara Katz (2013), co-founder of Herb Pharm and past president of UpS; and Rosemary Gladstar (2012).The 2022 ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award was presented at the 17th Annual ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards Ceremony on March 9, 2022, in Anaheim, California, during Natural Products Expo West.The ABC awards process and ceremony were underwritten by these ABC Sponsor Members in the United States and international herb industry: Alkemist Labs, Amin Talati Wasserman LLP, Applied Food Sciences, Brassica Protection Products, ChromaDex, Euromed, EuroPharma, Herbalife, Horphag Research, Indena USA, Informa, MegaFood, Natural Factors, New Chapter, NOW Foods, PlusPharma Inc., RFI, RT Specialty, United Natural Products Alliance, and Verdure Sciences.