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  • Writer's pictureTamara Gabbard

Plantas for The People: A Mommy Issue

When I was living in NYC, I joined my neighbor and fashion photographer Pedro Vasquez (@PVAZ) to a photoshoot. When I walked in, there were half nude, beautiful Goddesses everywhere – smokin’, chattin’, hoola hoopin’, dancing.

No. Fucks. Given.

Had I fallen into heaven?

This was where I met Jocelyn Wolffe. She was the quiet one laying on a couch with a camera in her face (quiet, not shy). This day, almost 6 years ago, I began following her on Instagram. I have watched her go from quiet, half-naked couch maiden to Garden Witch and all over magic momma.

I recently reached out to her about her online shop, Plantas for the People, where she offers her magic.

Wolffe is a trained full-spectrum Doula, certified through Ancient Song in Brooklyn, NY, and is a certified Herbalist through Gold Water Alchemy Educational Center in Florida.

Her website shares, “My intentions are to create and educate those around me how to compost, grow, create medicine and guide people during birth. To become self-sufficient in every aspect including preserving, fermenting and foraging. I also wanted to create a safe space for my children to grow in.”

SHOP Plantas for the People . . .

In light of Mother’s day, and my need for wanting to know more, I got nosey and reached out to ask her some questions about the shop, her practice, and her heritage. I also thought shining a light on one of my favorite Instagram Mommas would be a perfect start to WOO WOO NEWS right before we celebrate All Mommas -- here and passed over.

What I love most about this interview is exploring where her ancestors her work and her life intersect, and how each is integrated into the process she works through to create her brand, which for me has profound meaning and resonance.

Also, she's rad as fuck. She's an artist, too. She shoulda called it Sassy Plants, cause she's haulin' a load of both.

Don’t worry about being different, don’t worry about being judged, don’t fear depression, don’t fear being alone. You’ll realize that this pain is bringing experience, it’s providing layers to your soul, strengthening your mind, sharpening your focus.

TG: How did Plantas For The People start and What is the story behind the Name?

JW: My grandfather grew up on a farm and comes from a family of farmers. The house I live in was my great grandmother’s where her ancestors built the house, and when it was time for my grandfather to start his own life + family he bought the house across the street. Everything on his property including all the trees, he grew himself by taking cuttings of plants he would find and loved and brought them back to life.

When he moved into this house he built a garden and a greenhouse that my father and his siblings grew up in, and this became Plantas For The People. I was working for a farm for years and unhappy there, along with being in a toxic relationship. I needed a place to live after leaving the job + relationship and I winded up moving into my great grandmother’s house right after she passed. I didn’t know then that I would become pregnant a few months after, and the garden would save me emotionally, and spiritually.

The name Plantas For The People came from the idea that the spirit/essence of the plants can bring so much healing + transformation in one’s life and journey that I wanted to bring plants to the people. To parents, babies, community, elders. If the plants I grew brought so much healing and love to my life, what could I bring to others through this? It’s my offering, and it’s what my spirit led me to.

I know my grandfather didn’t even think that this garden he built over 40 years ago from the love and passion of plants would pour into my purpose and my work and provide this same joy to the people around me.

TG: You recently posted about self-love on your Instagram @plantasforthepeople. It was a reflection on your Ancestors, mother, and own motherhood and how you need to be more self-caring and compassionate to your own journey. How does this work you do align with that self-care and compassion you so gracefully shared with us?

JW: This is reflective of my work because plants have their own boundaries + will let you know that. That comes in the form of bad reactions, over-harvesting (endangerment of plants, plant species going down in numbers), defense mechanisms from other predators and animals.

I love the story of stinging nettle. They say that even the strongest of entities won’t go near her because of her sting + she provides extreme protection. But if you approach nettle without awareness and respect for the plant you will come to know why it’s called stinging nettle. Trust also goes along with boundaries. Trusting the timing of things, (this is reflective in seeds, knowing when to plant them increases their germination rate), trusting that our relationships are there to teach us a lot of things.

Trusting your own journey, knowing where you are headed, and not letting anything distract you from that. But I learned, this cannot happen without putting your boundaries down and forgiving yourself when you don’t.

We’re so hard on ourselves, we forget to acknowledge and embrace how far we’ve actually come, the things we’ve actually accomplished. How do I balance motherhood, my own traumas with my own mother, and self-care? I put my faith in my purpose every day. I pray and feed my ancestors every day. I forgive my mother every day. I forgive myself every day. And most importantly I recheck my energy, recheck my focus, take a moment and ground myself. When I’m feeling my emotions, I really stay present and feel them entirely without judgment.

Faith over fear. Integrity. That might look like turning off my phone, leaving messages unread, tending to my kid’s needs first so they can relax and I can do what I need to do. Not getting upset if I don’t accomplish everything I need to do in one day. Gratitude for the things I did and can get done in that moment. Then I put that same energy back into my products and my plants so I can pass this energy on to the next person.

My purpose is bigger than me, I have a strong story and strong past but the way plants have helped shift my mindset, I’d be selfish not to give it back to my community and the people I love, and that means my own mother. Because becoming a mother taught me, it’s hard to show up for yourself every day when you have young souls who need you to ground them into their body, but it’s possible, and it’s worth it.

TG: You are a Doula, can you talk about this a bit?

JW: Yes, I’ve been a doula for almost three years now. I became a doula because with my first son I prepared for a natural birth and had a midwife. But unfortunately was uneducated about the birthing process itself and went into the hospital unaware of the procedures they put you through that lessen the chance of you being able to have an unmedicated birth, as well as the environment in hospitals being naturally energetically heavy and scary. I didn’t have any support during my pregnancy, except for my partner and I put myself down for a while when I postpartum about that. I wished I had a doula, or someone to just be there to listen to my wants and needs and support me being born as well.

It just made me think, how many folks feel like thisUnsupported, unaware of what birth should and can look like, not listened to, and lonely? I didn’t know then how grateful I would be for my traumatic birth outcome because it gave me the perspective and experience of what a lot of folks experience during pregnancy and birth. It didn’t even scratch the surface of what pregnant folks experience because the chances of black + indigenous folks not being respected, seen, or heard and even dying during birth is extremely high.

Birth is a ceremony and is one of the most spiritual transitions in a person’s life, they should be able to birth the way they want to, or at least be supported. It is time to change the stories about how we give birth. But I don’t just support natural births, I’m a full spectrum doula. I support, home births, hospital births (natural, or medicated), c-sections, abortions, miscarriages, OB/GYN visits. I offer support in the form of resources, spiritual, emotional + physical support, and I formulate a plan with the client so when they are in labor or being seen by their doctors they are advocated for and seen and heard.

TG:What are some of your rituals or routines you do to make sure your products are at their highest vibrational form?

JW: I love this question! Ritual is part of my whole Bolivian culture. We pray to the sun, the moon, the earth, the spirits of the mountains, our ancestors. Life is a ritual itself even down to the seeds we plant being offerings to Pachamama. I have an ancestor altar and a working altar. I change the water often, I don’t go a day without candles burning + intention and prayers when I rise. I place herbal infusions (similar to tea) and fresh coffee on the altar and always have a fresh bouquet of flowers. Prayer is important, and I don’t touch or work with any products unless I’m vibrating at my highest. I don’t work when I’m on my cycle, I take that time to fast, pray, and let the products sit charging on the altar.

I let the plants and recipes come to me in dreams and let me know they are ready to be harvested or worked with. I always offer something to the plant when I harvest any part. Intention and integrity come first when doing this work. Having a purpose bigger than myself is important because I care about what I’m offering to other people, if it can transform and heal someone else, then I’ve done my part. Trusting and understanding the guidance that comes from your ancestors and building that relationship is how I’m able to have the faith and energy I do.

TG: What's your favorite product that you like? Your sons'?

JW: ALL OF DEM! Just kidding. Lol. I have my own personal relationship with each product, but I’m in love with Agua De Ruda. It’s a spiritual cologne that is added to spiritual baths, floor washes, altar offerings or can be used on the body. I love this product because the plant Ruda is a staple in a lot of spiritual households and my personal relationship to this plant has brought a lot of protection and prosperity. Heavy on the protection for my children, and just judgment, evil eye from a lot of people who were around me. Its copper distilled, using the plants + rainwater that I go out and collect with my youngest son.

TG:Where do you source your ingredients?

JW: I grow all of the plants myself, either from clippings of other plants or seeds I’ve exchanged with a lot of people along this journey. I save each seed at the end of the season. This is an extremely intimate process because I start it all from seed, harvest it myself, store it, and then make medicine with it. Any alcohol I use is either imported from Haiti from my partner or Bolivia. Even the honey comes from the bees down the block from me.

TG:Where did you learn to create these tinctures? Where did your connection with this work come from?

JW: This connection with this work is very ancestral. A lot of things I naturally knew, or the information came to me. My mother was a raw vegan chef for 20 years and studied nutrition for a while. She was always cooking and had my father build her a garden when I was born. I grew up eating out of this garden until we moved. My mother was used to eating from everything you grew, and being extremely self-sufficient growing up in Bolivia.

I dropped out of high school. It was really hard for me to focus in school with their curriculum, and I felt very disconnected from it. I found the teacher of my dreams when I had a yearning for studying further into plant medicine (this was the same year I became a doula and it went hand in hand). I studied and got my herbalist certification from Gold Water Alchemy, which was created by Elsie Lopez. I truly loved learning from her because she doesn’t just focus on the physical healing abilities of plants but each plant’s essence/spirit. Which to me personally is what provides the healing from the plant, its spirit.

She enhanced my connection to my ancestors + was the catalyst between finding my own spirit’s purpose. Even though these things were already placed in my path I truly have to thank her for providing the guidance and education and tools for me to be confident + transmute that into my own work.

TG:If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

I love you because you really need to hear that!!! Love you first always!!!!

JW: I would tell her you are that bitch! Don’t let anyone discourage or tell you otherwise. Don’t worry about being different, don’t worry about being judged, don’t fear depression, don’t fear being alone. You’ll realize that this pain is bringing experience, it’s providing layers to your soul, strengthening your mind, sharpening your focus. It’ll push you to places and situations you wouldn’t even believe you’d have the confidence to face.

People are going to try to redirect your focus; it’s going to show up in friendships and relationships and family members. They will try to gaslight you and make you believe you are the problem! Learn how to say no, and mean it. Put your boundaries down. You cannot show up for anyone without having the time and space to show up for yourself first! Losing jobs, not having money to be able to eat, having to sleep on couches, getting out of a survival mentality will be long and hard but you will believe in yourself, this too shall pass! You’ll soon realize your mind can free you from anything! You’ll have faith in your transition, you will welcome in abundance and choose faith over fear and that’s what will get you paid for doing what you love!

Don’t be scared to show up and give and help people because your ancestors have a plan! Keep doing God’s work and these blessings will return. You're going to keep showing up and helping people see their own power and for that, you will realize your own power! I love you because you really need to hear that!!! Love you first always!!!!

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