Farmer Interview – Rosie Warren

Posted on January 23, 2024 by Alicia Alferman

Rosie Warren is an advocate, grower, and herbalist with years of experience who oversees the Uzazi Village Peace Garden. She creates medicinal herbal products from the things she grows. Her love of holistic herbal remedies was sparked by successes healing herself and her child with natural alternatives. Since then, her interest and knowledge have expanded, and she enjoys using her skills and love of growing herbs and produce to feed and heal her community. 

Recently, Courtney Hattaway interviewed Rosie about her experience with the Uzazi Village Peace Garden. Thank you, Rosie, for sharing your story!


Tell us about Uzazi Village?
Uzazi Village is a 501c3 Nonprofit located in the heart of Kansas City, MO. The Village itself is home to the Ida Mae Patterson Clinic maternal birth center. The center offers Community-Embedded Group Prenatal Care, designed to support, protect and provide community-based clinical care to African American childbearing persons, families, and others. Our mission is strong and important. “With the support of our community, we continue to dedicate our time to decreasing maternal and infant health inequity among Black and Brown communities.” – Uzazivillage.org

Why is a garden important to the community at Uzazi Village?
The garden serves as a safe space to release and relax. The sacred work done on these grounds helps us pay homage and bring to the now the work of our ancestors through birthwork and working the ground. The garden is our place to remove our shoes, ground ourselves, and release what no longer serves us to continue to do the needed work.

What do you grow in the garden?
I grow medicine in the garden.

The garden is home to a variety of medicinal flowers and herbs, fruit trees in particular cherry, pear, and peach, elderberry and raspberry bushes and pollinator plants. This last year I had the great pleasure of growing produce to feed our staff and Ida Mae Patterson Center families. Tomato plants bloomed from March to October growing, well over 6 feet, giving us a plentiful and long harvest. I grew so many tomatoes this year I learned to make spaghetti sauce (of course I used fresh herbs from the garden!) that I shared among friends. Lettuce heads as big as our heads, kale, watermelon, cantaloupe, and sweet and spicy peppers joined the garden with great success.

What makes the garden a special place in the city?
Uzazi Village Peace Garden is just that, a space to stop, ground, and unload. A sanctuary on Troost with Dollar General and a busy bus stop nearby, where you can- oddly as it sounds find solace in the greens of the grass, dandelion leaves and foliage. The reds of the raspberries, cherries, and wild strawberries. The golden Sun reflects in the beautiful marigold (calendula to the herbalist in me) and dandelion flowers. The peaceful energy of Uzazi… that feeling of your shoulders dropping and feeling at home yet with a powerful and compelling energy that calls you to make a change and to take action running deeper than the dandelion roots.

Uzazi Village Peace Garden has the ability to bring the community together and holds space for so many families in and around Kansas City and beyond. The garden for me is so special as I get to use fresh plant medicines in practice, from fresh nettle and raspberry leaf tea for womb health of our expecting and postpartum mothers to picking catnip and passionflower to help ease tension and our minds. There are no other places in the city where you can find such sacred practices still being observed and it is built into the mission at Uzazi and is a true testament to how special of a space the peace garden is.

What is your favorite herb to grow? What are its benefits?
My favorite herb to grow has to be BORAGE… for now that is! Over the last couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with the herb and flower. The beautiful blue flowers grow on a main stem and branch off with a cluster of flowers, and as you pick them (deadhead), you only encourage more to grow. Borage is a sensitive being yet hardy and easy enough to grow starting from seed after the last frost. Borage thrives in full sun but doesn’t mind a bit of shade and gets thirsty just like anybody else would. Borage itself is a nourishing herb.

Nourishing herbs provide the body with essential nutrients that assist our tissue healing, structure, and function. It is cooling which soothes inflammation and redness and moistening which adds lubrication back into our dry tissues and creaky joints. The pretty green leaves taste like cucumber and can be added sparingly to salads, soups and teas or eaten fresh from the plant. The most used part for me are the flowers which I love to make sun tea from (with a bit of orange balm, it tastes like peach and is so good!) and enjoy a few cups throughout the week.

I also enjoy using the beautiful blue stars to create “flower essences.” Flower essences are a type of plant medicine that work with the emotions rather than the physical. Borage Flower may be used to build courage in times of adversity and boost confidence when you need an extra push. “Borage brings buoyancy to the soul” – Richard Katz, Patricia Kaminksi 1994.

What ignited your passion to become an herbalist?
My fire and rain comes from me healing myself with essential oils and hope in 2014. A $8 bottle of Young Living Clove essential oil and the holistic technique of oil pulling with coconut oil saved me from a pestering gum abscess shortly after having my daughter. After searching the internet for weeks to no avail other than to head to the emergency dentist who wanted a staggering $500, which at the time just wasn’t an option, I remember searching “alternative to the dentist”. At that time a whole new array of possibilities opened up to me and I took a chance. After a matter of days of oil pulling
the gum abscess disappeared, I was amazed and completely enthralled… I had to know more.

The more I learned about herbs and plant medicines, about holistic healing and mindfulness, the more I aligned with it and changed my life. It was only a month or so before this that I had decided to start growing my own food in pots on the patio of my one-bedroom apartment. As the years have passed, I’ve grown only more in love with herbs and plants themselves. The herbs themselves inspire me to learn further, create more and endlessly share my offerings.

Herbalism has continued to influence my life in all ways. I found myself full circle in 2019 when my daughter who at this time was 5 and had been hospitalized at least once yearly with severe asthma and lung trauma caused by a breakdown in our traditional medical system when she was only 1 year old. This particular day my daughter was having an attack, laying in her bed with a breathing treatment running, wheezing and struggling to breathe yet again .. and I honestly was feeling like an imposter. I’d been studying for 5 years now, why couldn’t I figure this thing out? Lo and behold there was an old friend sitting on the counter top… an essential oil I’d recently purchased. I picked it up and began reading the label. To my surprise it said, “in times of respiratory distress, rub a few drops on your chest.” I mixed a bit into olive oil and rubbed it onto my baby girl. Some time passed and she emerged from her room… proclaiming to feel better. There are no words to explain how I felt- and still feel- every time I tell someone the power of herbs. My baby girl has till this day yet to go back to the ER or take another breathing treatment.

What else do you want folks to know about Uzazi Village and your work?
Uzazi Village is just that- a village of likeminded change makers working together to advocate, provide resources, tools, and support to our community. Through maternal pregnancy care, doula services and education, breastfeeding assistance and more Uzazi Village is a myriad of holistic wealth to Kansas City.

What’s the best way for people to support your work?
Supporting me best looks like more community engagement in local events, from farmers markets to locally curated events around the city. Show up and support the do-gooders!

You can find my herbal remedies online at www.naturemademellc.com or locally at Nature Made Me, 3906 Indiana Ave, KCMO.