What’s your spark? This profile is part of a summer series on dreamers and leaders in New Hampshire.
As a child, Clinical Herbalist and Author Maria Noël Groves was drawn to Nature, and she saw the world as a magical place. While Groves was majoring in journalism at the University of New Hampshire, a traumatic event made her suffer from panic attacks and insomnia. Guided to learn more about the natural healing benefits of herbs to help calm her frayed nerves, Groves discovered a career in holistic medicine and education.
“I was starting to learn about herbs and decided to go to the herb shop and try herbs for these things,” she says. “They worked really well, alongside other personal work, and I ended up doing all my writing about herbs. But I missed having a direct connection with people when I was working in magazines post-college. Once I realized you could actually have a job as an herbalist, I decided to go to herb school to become an herbal practitioner.”
The journey towards healing taught her to trust her intuition and listen to her body, and how to create a healthier life for herself.
“Good health grows in nature,” she says. “This is a tag line for my business and might sound corny but it’s totally true. The more we live our lives closer to nature – not just taking herbs but also eating real food close to the earth and spending time in nature – the healthier we are.”
Inspired by what she learned, Groves completed several programs and studied with Rosemary Gladstar of Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary, Nancy and Michael Phillips at Heartsong Farm Healing Herbs, and with Michael Moore at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. Groves wanted to share her knowledge and her dreams grew. She created a newsletter to offer helpful tips and recipes, and taught classes. Soon she had enough knowledge to create a helpful resource and her business and connections grew, too.
“Back in 2009 I helped form the NH Herbal Network to connect herbalists and herb enthusiasts in the state – among other things, we host an annual Herb Day event. I’m no longer an organizer, but I’m proud of how this organization has helped connect and inspire so many people. Connecting not only people with other people but also people with plants. In a broader context of influence, I’m also really proud of my two books, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies and especially Body into Balance, which has been really well received and is now used in herb schools across the country as well as across the globe and in multiple languages.”
According to Groves, herbal medicine takes skill, time and a dedication to learning each plant you work with.
“Plant medicine is so much more than simply using X plant when you have Y health concern – even though that’s usually our gateway to it, and they can be quite helpful for that,” Groves says. “It’s a calling and a connection with the plants as well as empowerment and agency in our health. Once you learn the plants, you realize the many ways in which nature takes care of us and that you’re surrounded by plant allies everywhere.”
Groves says she enjoys encouraging others to live healthier, whether they’re simply planning to integrate it into their personal lives or hope for a holistic career.
“Go for it,” she says. “Focus on what you’re good at, drawn to, and the community needs, and recognize that persistence and hard work are part of what determines success.”
Groves grew up in New Hampshire, and she loves the abundance of herbs, flowers and healing plants available.
“I love our access to greenspace, farm-fresh food, small to large cities, and the independent and holistic mindset. The New Hampshire Seacoast has long been my go-to spot. I love the ocean’s beauty and energy. I’ve grown to also enjoy the North Country and how pure and wild it feels.”
Surrounded by nature in the pine forests of Bear Brook State Park, Groves offers consultations, herbal classes, particularly online, for a variety of levels by appointment. She will begin offering more in person classes this fall and in 2022. Visit here for more information, and her free classes, videos, podcasts, recipes and links to her books.