Vermont Flood Destroys Road To Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary


One week ago today, I drove two miles from Sage Mountain to attend a town meeting, not realizing it would be the last time I would drive down our road for the foreseeable future.

Just a few hours later, I abandoned my car at the bottom of the mountain and hiked up through the forest with my neighbor in a torrential downpour to the safety of our home, avoiding the whitewater rapids and tumbling boulders cascading down what used to be the road to Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary. The historic and catastrophic thousand-year-flood that swept through Central Vermont on July 10 had turned the road to the Sanctuary into a raging river.

The next morning as the sun rose, I faced the new reality that the mile-long roadway I have long shared with moose and bear and deer was stripped all the way down to the bedrock by the flash floods.

Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary has been a true sanctuary for plants, animals, and people, and a heartstone of the herbal community for over 35 years. As the home and teaching center of legendary herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, this land has not only touched many generations of herbal students but has made a positive impact reaching far beyond its six hundred acres of forest, including its role in the founding of United Plant Savers and catalyzing the medicinal plant conservation movement.

Thousands of humans have visited this special patch of earth to connect, to grow, to learn, and to heal. Thousands more have been touched from afar by the magic of this mountain through the teachings and writings of her longtime steward, Rosemary Gladstar. And as of last fall, dozens of local youth have found sanctuary here each day through our Afterschool and Summer Camp in Nature programs.

For five years, our 501c3 nonprofit has continued herbalist Rosemary Gladstar’s legacy of conservation, education and healing, through wildlife advocacy, botanical research, on site programs and retreats, and afterschool and summer outdoor education for low-income and at-risk youth.

Whether or not you’ve visited the Sanctuary in person — if you’ve been a student of mine or any number of herbalists in Rosemary’s lineage… if you have attended an International Herb Symposium or one of the many herb conferences inspired by that event … if you are a member of United Plant Savers … or if you have ever read one of Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal books — then you are a part of this mountain.

Since the flood has cut off Sage Mountain’s access to the outside world, Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary will be closed for the foreseeable future, awaiting a complete re-engineering of our mountain road. In this closure, we face the cancellation of all of our summer and fall revenue generating programs, and with that, the loss of all of the income that sustains us throughout the rest of the year, long after the gardens and our programs go to bed for winter.

I humbly ask for your support to sustain this Sanctuary that has sustained the hearts and spirits and lives of so many for the last 35 years. With your help, we will weather this stormy season and continue to carry forward Rosemary Gladstar’s legacy of conservation, education, and healing.

Your tax-deductible donation will help sustain the Sanctuary through this long-term disruption. Your contribution not only provides a source of revenue to maintain the mountain during this time of recovery, but also ensures that we can continue to our most vital programs that support the youth in our region — especially during this time of great community need — by funding the continuation of youth programming in spite of the interruption to our road access.

Your grace and generosity are immense medicine for the heart of this mountain and every being it serves. Thank you for your contribution to sustain the Sanctuary through this challenging season and allow us to carry forward in conservation, education and healing for seasons to come.

Each donation, large and small, sustains the work of Sage Mountain during this time of recovery and rebuilding. Thank you for your generosity!

Emily Ruff is an herbalist and educator, and the current steward of Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary.

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