We had the good fortune of connecting with Kursten Hedgis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kursten, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m born and raised in North Georgia, and for an herbalist, that’s a real blessing. I grew up in the North Georgia mountains in a richly bio-diverse region. I grew up in tandem with the lushness of nature, living by its rhythms and seasons before even understanding the hustle and bustle of city life. Georgia’s flowers, trees, leaves, bushes, barks, and berries have been the backdrop in of my reality forever. Specifically, I grew up in Menlo Valley. A very small, beautiful place that herbalists now move to for the abundance of plant life and healing energy of the mountains. It was something that as a kid I took for granted, but as an adult I cherish. I used to be really envious of city herbalists. Radical and cool and resourceful. I tried for so long to chase that personality and persona. When I began Folk Care, my entire outlook shifted. I’m not a city herbalist, even if I’ve lived in Atlanta proper for almost a decade. I’m a folk herbalist. From my root working uncle to my green-thumbed grandma, this region and its plants are in my blood.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At my heart, I am a facilitator of healing. Whether I’m making plant medicine for my business, facilitating meditations for my community, supporting an employee at my day job, or teaching about plants to anyone who will listen, the heart of what I always want to do is walk with people in the direction of their wholeness. Accompanying them as they move toward their oneness. Offering a safe space to take a breath and find relief from the hecticness of the modern world. It’s quite an amazing thing that can happen when we can slow down for a moment to recenter, reconnect, and renew. Sometimes people need someone to witness or support them in doing that, and that’s what I love to do.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of the best things about Atlanta is that there is no shortage of really amazingly magical things to do. If I was planning a weekend trip for a visiting friend, they would hands-down meet me Friday night upon getting into the city at Bon Ton. The perfect first taste of Atlanta’s energy. We’d hunt down parking, take a small stroll through the trees of Midtown, and hang out for hours under the neon lights of this amazing little spot– drinking artful cocktails and eating endless amounts of charbroiled crab claws. Saturday morning would start the only way it should in Atlanta, with breakfast at Homegrown. This feast would be immediately followed by a few hours of thrifting. Buffalo Exchange, Rag-o-Rama, Value Village, nothing helps a Comfy Chicken digest more than the hunt for some swanky second hand. After an afternoon nap in Piedmont Park to recoup from a morning of biscuits and bargains, it’s straight to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. No matter the season or time of day, there’s always something beautiful to experience there. An evening full of winding floral paths would be followed by walking into the signature chill of Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market (also known as my happy place). It’s the perfect place to intuitively select fresh produce and organic proteins to make a meal with our own hands (or just grab a plate of that out of this world international buffet!) Whether cooking or going with the pre-prepared route, no trip to YDFM is complete without a small fruit tart, an herbal tea blend, and a bouquet of fresh flowers. Sundays always start with a bite from Le Petit Marche, and a short wander through Oakland Cemetary. Then it’s off to Modern Mystic Shop for Sunday School (the community program I produce), to learn a new tool, connect to spirit, and gather with community. Afterward, it’s time to explore a little OTP nature. If I’m feeling more organic, I’m hands down heading to Arabia Mountain. If I’m feeling a little more bougie, I’m going south to Serenbe. Either way, it’s the perfect way to connect with the thing that makes Atlanta so different from other cities, the lush nature right at its perimeter. There’s a reason people flock to this city and never want to leave. It’s spaces like the ones I listed that make it great, but more than anything it’s the people that occupy those spaces. It’s the people that you’d run across traveling to, dining in, or enjoying each of these spots. That’s why everyone who lives here will always say, FILA.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It would be miserably hard to pick just one person to shoutout, especially given my story. The first person that comes to mind is Patricia Howell, the herbalist and teacher who cracked the world of plant medicine open for me. From the way she taught me to view plants, to the way she pushed me to have an investigative, open mind, to the way she showed me what strength and boundaries in action look like, to the way she always encourages me and my dreams, I can’t thank her enough. I would not be ANY of the herbalist I am today without her. Besides all of those things, one of the things I love most about Patricia is that she’s Greek. (Opa!) When she first mentioned this, my spirit guides and ancestors lit up! I also felt a connection to my father who had just died suddenly and also happened to be Greek. Every time I walked into her classroom, any time she spoke Greek or talked about her travels there, I felt my father’s presence in the most real way. It allowed him, a healer in his own right as a doctor, to be a part of my learning in a way that no other teacher could have facilitated. So, thank you Patricia. Thank you, Dad. And thank you, ancestors.