Maureen “Elma” Charles can spend the entire day “way up in the mountain” in search of herbs, seeds and other treasures of Mother Nature. Knowing what to look for is her skill and one that she has been refining for the past six years.
Sitting in her small booth just inside the entrance to the Grenville Market Square, surrounded by hundreds of packets of dried and ground herbs, seasoning mixtures and jars containing special remedies, Charles told The Grenadian Voice about her discovery of “all the herbs.”
The 64-year old resident of Telescope has not always studied plants and their uses. “I travelled to see life outside there,” she recalled in a recent interview.
She returned to Grenada after having a dream about collecting herbs.
“I had to put it together because just now we will have use for it,” she said, remembering “the message” from the dream and her subsequent discovery of the book Back to Eden. First published in 1939, and since revised, the book by Jethro Klosh is considered a major source on herbs and holistic health.
She studied the book and continued to gather knowledge from Grenadian elders who knew plants from experience and folklore, as well as when to harvest and how to store.
When she is not searching for herbs in the Claboney boiling springs area, she is washing, drying and sorting, as well as grinding various parts of the plants she collects. Everything in her shop is from Grenada where she only sells herbs that she has collected.
“I don’t buy. You have to go and see your herb and know it,” she said with conviction.
Her customers – young and old, male and female – come from across Grenada. They are looking for freshly ground herbs for cooking; or may be returning for another bottle of her powdered seasoning with ingredients including Chadon beni, pimento leaf, cinnamon, soursop leaf, dried citrus peel, ginger, Turmeric and Moringa or ‘moonga’.
With the arrival of COVID-19 and lockdown in Grenada, on days when regulations permitted, Charles packed a basket with herbs and mixtures and walked in Grenville to serve her regular customers.
Now that the economy is opening more every week, she is happy to work from her shop surrounded by her collection of fragrant herbs and other purely Grenadian items.