ABC Presents Inaugural Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award to United Plant Savers

3/24/2022, 2:04 PM (Source: GlobeNewswire)

AUSTIN, Texas, March 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Botanical Council (ABC) has presented its inaugural ABC Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award to the United Plant Savers (UpS), a nonprofit, grassroots plant conservation organization. The award recognizes excellence in conservation, sustainability, and regenerative farming efforts related to medicinal and aromatic plants. It is named in honor of botanist, author, and photographer Steven Foster, who died on January 15, 2022, and commemorates his professional interest, writing, and advocacy work in this field.

Each year, the ABC Foster Award will recognize an individual, nonprofit organization, or commercial herb company that is committed to sustainable and regenerative practices in the botanical industry or wider community in the United States or internationally. Recipients will be taking action to address botanical sustainability issues and contributing to a broader understanding of cultural and biological diversity, soil health, climate change, economic justice, and more. They will also demonstrate appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.

Foster had more than 40 years of experience with sustainability and conservation in the world of herbs and medicinal plants. He served on ABC’s Board of Trustees for more than two decades, was a key consultant and content contributor for ABC’s Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP), advocated for industry trade resolutions to protect threatened botanicals, and was a founding member of the UpS advisory board.

UpS was founded in 1994. Its mission is “to protect native medicinal plants, fungi, and their habitats while ensuring renewable populations for use by generations to come,” according to the UpS website. The organization owns a 379-acre botanical and wildlife sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio, in the northern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of plant species, many of which are native Appalachian plants, including a large population of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis).

In 2019, during UpS’ 25th anniversary, the organization opened its Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation. This facility, at the entrance of the sanctuary, is open to the public and dedicated to renowned ethnobotanist and ABC co-founder James “Jim” Duke, PhD, and his wife, Peggy, a botanical artist. The building includes a classroom for the organization’s wide variety of educational programs, a commercial kitchen for use as a teaching apothecary, a library of books about medicinal plants, a museum, an herbarium cabinet, and more. The venue is meant to engage and educate the community and serve as a model to hopefully inspire other botanical sanctuaries to establish similar centers that celebrate and help conserve the medicinal plant diversity of their respective regions.

UpS’ sanctuary is the center of its Botanical Sanctuary Network, in which UpS members designate private land to be used for the conservation of medicinal and other plants. This network includes sanctuaries throughout the United States and Canada. UpS provides certain benefits for members of the network. The organization’s Medicinal Plant Conservation Certificate Program, in which students learn about medicinal plant identification, how to sustainably harvest and prepare the plants for use, and more, has attracted people from around the world. UpS also publishes an annual journal, Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation, and other educational content. Its Species At-Risk List tracks native species it considers to be threatened or otherwise at risk. The organization also hosts events and workshops, offers grants and awards, and more.

“It is such a special and fitting honor for UpS to be selected as the first recipient of the ABC Steven Foster Award,” Rosemary Gladstar, noted herbalist, author, and founder of UpS, wrote (email, March 19, 2022). “I know Steven would be pleased. He was an avid supporter of UpS and served on the UpS Board of Directors from 2000 to 2003. Steven brought his many skills and talents, and also his wit and wonderful sense of humor, to the board meetings. I remember thinking how much more fun, and productive, those long board meetings were when Steven was present.

“Steven was incredibly generous in sharing his many skills and talents with UpS,” Gladstar added. “He not only contributed his time and expertise to the board meetings, but also taught at several UpS events and conferences. He was a contributing author of the UpS book Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs [Inner Traditions, 2000], wrote several articles for the Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation, and contributed many of his beautiful plant photographs for UpS’ At-Risk and To-Watch lists. These are lasting gifts to UpS.

“His crowning contribution, however, was at UpS’ 25th Anniversary Celebration and grand opening of its Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation,” Gladstar continued. “Steven, who was a close friend of the Dukes, gave a stunning keynote presentation that highlighted the life and work of [Jim and Peggy]. It seems a fitting legacy that we are now honoring Steven Foster for his numerous contributions to herbalism, his long-term love affair with the plants, his work with UpS and other plant conservation organizations, and the many gifts he shared with the herbal community over the past several decades.”

Susan Leopold, PhD, the executive director of UpS, also expressed gratitude for the award. “We are honored to be the recipient of the inaugural ABC Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award,” Leopold wrote (email, March 11, 2022). “A huge thanks to our members, Board of Directors, and staff for their dedication to the plants. We couldn’t do what we do without them.

“Steven leaves a legacy for us all to carry on, as we advocate for the beauty and wisdom medicinal herbs provide,” Leopold added. “Steven was incredibly supportive of UpS’ most recent project: the Duke Ethnobotanical Archives. Jim and Steven were both mentors to so many. The conservation and sustainability of medicinal herbs depend on the continued mentorship of the next generation. ABC’s Steven Foster Award will elevate the work of those who carry on his spirit of mentorship, research, and advocacy.”

“While there are many organizations, companies, and individuals that are doing excellent work in the areas of medicinal and aromatic plant conservation, sustainability development, and regenerative farming, in the United States and internationally, it was clear to all of us involved with the inaugural ABC Steven Foster award that Steven would have wanted us to recognize UpS for its laudable mission and vital work,” said Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director, and a close personal friend and colleague of Foster’s. “UpS is really deserving of this recognition and is the obvious organization to receive it.”

The first annual ABC Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award was presented to Susan Leopold by Ann Armbrecht, PhD, Director of the ABC Sustainable Herbs Program, at the 17th Annual ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards Ceremony on March 9, 2022, in Anaheim, California, as part of Natural Products Expo West. This is the seventh award created by ABC to recognize outstanding work in the medicinal and aromatic plant communities.

The ABC awards process and ceremony were underwritten by these ABC Sponsor Members in the United States and international botanical industry: Alkemist Labs, Amin Talati Wasserman LLP, Applied Food Sciences, Brassica Protection Products, ChromaDex, Euromed, EuroPharma, Herbalife, Horphag Research, Indena USA, Informa, MegaFood, Natural Factors, New Chapter, NOW Foods, PlusPharma Inc., RFI, RT Specialty, United Natural Products Alliance, and Verdure Sciences.

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