Abby Artemisia is not unlike a woodland creature from an otherworldly fantasy novel: She’s a guardian of nature (preservationist), professional forager and freelance plant maven (botanist), and natural medicine guru (herbalist). Thanks to her three-month-long fellowship with the Lloyd Library and Museum, she’s been relying on every last bit of that knowledge in the Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County—Ohio’s most botanically biodiverse area. “My project involves comparing the species there now to the species that were there when another local botanist, Elizabeth Brockschlager, did her work in the mid-1950s though 1970s,” says Artemisia, who teaches DIY herbal remedies classes and leads edible plant walks in local parks and protected forests (find out more at mightyoakfromlittleacorn.com). When she’s not in the Lloyd Library digitizing Brockschlager’s boxes upon boxes of handwritten observations for her research, she’s compiling her own in an effort to keep native flora such as spider milkweed, wild yam (left), and lady’s slipper orchids where they belong. “Native species are important, particularly to the fauna of the area, as they are used to eating those plants,” Artemisia says. “They need that food to survive.”
Originally published in the May 2014 issue.