Many folks in the San Juan Islands have fond memories of encounters with Ryan Drum, beloved naturalist and Waldron resident who has taught classes on herbs and seaweeds in the islands for the past 40 years.
Two years ago, at 80, Ryan retired from his herbal wildcrafting work and passed on his business to Kristy Bredin, who has been working with him for the past decade. Bredin has been sharing her herbal craft over the years with Waldron and Orcas Islanders alike, from her herbal surprise box program that she launched in 2013 with her business, Mermaid Botanicals, to teaching various classes and an apprenticeship program on local medicinal plants to islanders.
Taking on Ryan’s thriving herb business a couple of years ago, Bredin has pieced together various places to dry herbs and continue to make them available to our communities and beyond, but it has been a struggle without a dedicated herb space to harvest enough herbs in the short window of time they are available to fill orders. A couple of weeks ago she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a drying structure that will enable her to continue this work in a sustainable way. There are just two weeks left (Feb. 5) to raise all the funds needed or no funding will be received.
With gentle heat and air circulation being the primary factors for drying herbs and seaweeds, the structure will feature greenhouse panels to use solar energy as a heat source during the primary drying months. The structure would also employ solar-powered fans for optimal air circulation and a wood-fire stove to create gentle heat for the herbs overnight. Bredin has engaged a local builder to work on the project.
Bredin is offering a lot of great prizes for folks who donate, including seaweed packages, classes, and herbal preparations. Help continue this herbal and island tradition of slow-drying local plants in a sustainable way. Visit Kristy’s Kickstarter campaign at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kristybredin/herb-drying-structure.
For more information about Bredin and her work, visit www.Mermaid-Botanicals.com.