History

The very beginning…

In 2000, Mary Blue,  Tara Cimini and the neighborhood kids started a 1/4 acre urban farm on Cemetery Street. They pulled up ashphalt and added tons (literally) of organic compost. This is how the Farmacy Medicinal Herb Gardens were born. Mary Blue farmed this land up until 2012, when the landlord reclaimed the lot for parking.  Along with the herb shop, classroom, consultation space, production kitchen, this space is still partially devoted to medicinal herbs gardens. We kept at least 2 of each medicinal plant we were growing (like Noah's ark!) and moved the rest of it to our farm in West Greenwich.

In 2004 Mary Blue started offering free herbal consultations and classes on Cemetery Street and around the city... this eventually evolved into Farmacy Herbs!

A death births Farmacy…

In 2008, Mary Blue's best friend, Jessica Gill, lost her 4 year battle with cancer. She was 33. Jess and Mary had been close friends since 10th grade. Jessica was a vibrant, beautiful inspiring person. Her health struggles brought together friends and family to support her morally and financially.  Jessica knew about Mary's dream to have an herbal shop/ resource center for the community, and also had faith that she could pull it off!  So, on her final days, she asked that her friends and family donate, in lieu of flowers at her funeral, to building Mary's dream.. and they did! They donated thousands of dollars to build the Farmacy Herbs Community Health and Education Center.

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Jessica Gill and Mary Blue 2007

The loss of a soul sister and the most kind, gentle, loving, generous, supportive person to a disease like cancer is maddening and preventable. Farmacy Herbs is Jessica's legacy, and because we lost so much when we lost her, our mission is to honor her spirit and  do everything we can to keep our community healthy through natural, life giving medicinal HERBS.

Jessica is Farmacy Herb's silent partner.

A week after Jessica's death, Mary's sister-in-law, Suzy Hastings, died of cancer  at age 36. These two unrelated but connected events changed the course of Mary's life forever.

The Care About Cancer Program at Farmacy is dedicated to Jessica and Suzy memory and struggles with cancer.

Farmacy has been open since 2008, the same year we lost our beloved Jessica and Suzy.

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Suzy Hastings with her sons (Mary Blue's nephews) Zach and Josh.

After Jessica's funeral in February of 2008,  the community donations to build the store  came pouring in. It was enough to buy materials, but not enough to pay for the skilled labor.

Dave Bailey, a skilled carpenter, and Mary's close friend came and volunteered for 3 months and led the build out of the shop. Neighbors helped paint, and friends and family helped insulate and dry wall... Every event and every hand pushed Farmacy along it's path to being successful. It was meant to be!

Thanks to the community effort and Dave Bailey our store was built!

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Mary and Dave in the shop during construction

Since 2008, Farmacy has welcomed thousands of visitors to our store and taught countless community herb classes in the area and have had over 150 people go through our Herbal Education and Training Program.

One person at a time, one class at a time, we are working to educate our community on the many uses of medicinal herbs, so they can prevent disease, maintain health and have the confidence to use their herbal skills to support their health every day and in emergency situations. 

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The concept of an urban herbal resource center that focused on affordable herbs, education and consultations for anyone who desired it, regardless of their race, age, gender preference or ability levels was just a little seed when Farmacy Herbs founder Mary Blue went to volunteer in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina in 2005/6. Medical resources were extremely limited in post Katrina New Orleans.  Herbalists rose to the call and donated herbs and volunteered in the relief clinics. Folks who might not have been open to herbs before the disaster, were now open to them, because their options to feel better were so limited.  Mary Blue packed up a bunch of herbs, collected donations on the way down and worked in the clinics as an herbalist during her 3 months there. What she realized while she was there was that the community in New Orleans  could have benefited from an already existing herbal center before the disaster struck.  Now that they had no other resources, they had to start from scratch and learn how to heal their bodies with alternative methods.

She knew that it would take years to have that kind of an effect on a community, and she set her mind to it. 1 class at a time, one customer at a time. She went home and developed her herbal product line, her herbal education and training program, an accessibility plan, and started dreaming about what Farmacy Herbs Community Health and Education Center could be. Back then, there was no crowd funding, so she had to work to build up her herbal apothecary, and with the donations from the community to build the actual center/ herb store, she was able to realize her dream August 1, 2008, 6 months after she lost her best friend and sister-in-law to cancer.

 

 

A few more details...

In 2011, Mary was able to participate in the USDA women farmers loan program, and was able to buy a 5 acre farm in West Greenwich RI.

In 2012, the 12 year urban farm at Farmacy Herbs was turned into a parking lot. Luckily we had the farm to move to.

In 2016 Mary and Dr. John McGonigle opened the Sage Healing Collaborative, and integrative medicine clinic in East Providence.

Fast forward to 2020, Mary and her staff Anna Fox, Narcissa Segura & Tammy Kim manage the shop, the clinic, the herbs school and the farm and the 60 interns and students per year that participate in Farmacy programs.