The mission of the Solidarity Apothecary is to materially support revolutionary struggles and communities with plant medicines to strengthen collective autonomy, self-defence and resilience to climate change, capitalism and state violence.
This project is run by anarchist organiser and herbalist Nicole Rose (she/her) based in the Westcountry of England. My lineages are English, Welsh and Irish. I have been studying herbal medicine informally for over a decade. I’m undertaking a four-year clinical training with The Plant Medicine School in Ireland to develop my skills as a practitioner.
As a herbalist, I focus on supporting people experiencing state violence.
For better or worse, prison has shaped my adult life. I’ve been supporting partners, friends and comrades in prison for the last 17 years. I did a 3.5 year sentence myself after a huge wave of state repression against a campaign to close down Europe’s largest animal testing company. Plants sustained me through my sentence and many years later I finally wrote the Prisoner’s Herbal book which is now distributed to prisoners worldwide.
My goal as a herbalist is to contribute to developing healthcare infrastructure that builds autonomy beyond the state, capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy.
I believe the joy, pleasure and nourishment that plant medicines gift us can help support people survive state violence while we work to tear oppressive systems down and rebuild anew. I believe in a world without cages. I believe in collective care, autonomy and responsibility to each other and the land. I am continuously inspired by movements, revolutionaries and organisers around the world, especially Black and Brown feminists and abolitionists that share frameworks of healing justice, abolition, mutual aid and liberation.
Anarchists have always been dedicated to mutual aid – from smuggling food to prisoners to providing safe houses for people on the run from fascist regimes. The Solidarity Apothecary is herbal medicine as mutual aid. The time for revolutionary medicine is now.
Supporting people harmed by State violence with herbal medicines
The main focus of the Solidarity Apothecary is making and distributing plant medicines to people experiencing state violence and repression. This includes people being arrested, on trial, imprisoned, detained or recovering from these experiences, as well as prisoner families, frontline organisers and more. Herbal Solidarity can be in form of care packages, one-to-one support or as part of the mobile clinic. Learn more here.
If you are interested in Herbalism and State Violence, you can check out the recording from a workshop I gave at NY Anarchist Bookfair here.
Distributing the Prisoner’s Herbal Book to people in prison worldwide
In 2019, the Solidarity Apothecary published its first book, The Prisoner’s Herbal. It is written for people in prison who want to learn about the medicinal properties of plants commonly found in prison courtyards. It contains ten detailed plant profiles, as well as instructions on how to prepare plant medicines in prison and more. It is based on my experience of using herbs through my 3.5 year prison sentence.
More than 2000 copies have been sent to prisoners via different prisoner book and support projects. This work is now organised with the Prisoner Herbalism Collective, learn more about us here. Please get in touch if you can help get copies to people inside or request copies here.
Mobile Clinic supporting Refugees in Northern France with Herbalists without Borders
For the last five years, Herbalists without Borders UK has maintained a presence in Northern France supporting refugees and migrants risking their lives to cross the British Border. I currently visit Calais most months as a student being mentored by senior herbalists. Since October 2019, we have seen more than 4000 people with upper respiratory conditions, skin complaints, digestive issues and more, as well as injuries from police violence. Our medicines are made by a dedicated network of grassroots medicine makers and growers. Together, we made and distributed more than 6,000 medicines during the pandemic.
Supporting frontline organisers
Organising with others for human, animal and earth liberation can be one of the most empowering experiences alive. Yet frontline resistance comes with risks to our physical and emotional health that can lead many people to burn out and abandon social movements altogether.
In 2019, I published a second book called Overcoming Burnout which linked my journey of recovery with wider systemic forces such as classism, sexism and power dynamics in groups, poverty, chronic illness and ableism, as well as grief and trauma from prison and state repression. It is a call for models of mutual aid and collective care beyond capitalist ideas of consumer self-care.
This year, I am launching a Herbalism for Organisers course, which consolidates many of the amazing ways plants can take care of us while we organise for liberation. Sign up to my newsletter if you are keen to hear about it!
Organisers are encouraged to request herbal support. I’ve sent care packages to people engaging in action from sabotaging the badger cull, to occupying trees to prevent their destruction to people campaigning against detention centres.
Mobile Clinic at Sites of Resistance
My goal post-pandemic is to be available to tour sites of resistance, offering herbal clinics at occupations, protest sites, gatherings and events. Site life can take its toll, from physical injury, PTSD from police violence, or simply the physical endurance of living outside. I like to offer immune and stress support to people whose bodies are on the line, as well as those doing invisible labour behind the scenes to make ongoing resistance a reality.
Street Medic Work & Police Violence Aftercare
Another goal as a herbalist and medic is to serve as a street medic at demonstrations, riots and uprisings around the world. I’ve done this small-scale informally for years but am now part of an organised collective dedicated to skill-sharing and maintaining a presence at actions and events in my region. Please get in touch if you’d value some medics at your mobilisations.
Right now I still sustain myself through a job (cheers capitalism), and the Solidarity Apothecary fits around the edges, however, my goal long-term is to be able to financially survive through online courses, sales and donations so that I can serve movements as a herbalist and medic full-time. You can support that goal here.
I’ve got a whole range of things I’m desperate to do including:
- Launching the Frontline Herbalism Podcast
- Publishing the Herbalism and State Violence book
- Producing a book about Herbalism, Health and Climate Change: A Toolkit for Collective Resilience that documents grassroots healthcare and herbal projects around the world and shares learning to help people prepare for increasing climate chaos.
- Developing a Clinic in my local community
- Offering more 1:1 support to folks
- Starting an LGBTQIA+ Herbal Clinic run as a workers co-op that can serve queer communities
If you’d like to be kept updated about all of these different things, events, courses, solidarity shout-outs and more then please join my newsletter (very low traffic).
Also, don’t be afraid to send me an email. Building relationships is one of the most revolutionary things we can do.