Mindful Winter Foraging on Snowshoes in the Alps

Nadia Scherbina, founder of Botanicum – Tea & Herb Shop

In the picturesque setting of the Alps, Nadia, a woman with roots deeply embedded in the rich herbal traditions of her childhood, has brought the enchanting world of herbs to life through her shop, Botanicum. Nadia’s journey, influenced by her grandmother’s expertise as a Kuban Cossack herbalist, has led her to appreciate the profound benefits that herbs bring to people’s lives.

Winter foraging with Nadia in Morzine, French Alps

Nadia’s early experiences with her grandmother laid the foundation for her profound connection with nature and the healing power of herbs. Together, with her twin sister and grandma they roamed the forests, fields, and riverbanks, gathering herbs that would later become tools for healing in her grandmother’s skilled hands. These childhood memories continue to shape Nadia’s passion for herbs and their ability to answer life’s questions.

War forced Nadia and her family to relocate to the Alps, where she found solace in the natural beauty, cultural richness, and the community’s careful attitude towards nature. Back in Kyiv, she teamed up with a friend to establish an herb shop, Botanicum, specialising in herbal teas and medicinal blends crafted for the well-being of the entire family.

winter foraging rose hip

The heart of Botanicum lies in the meticulous harvesting of herbs from ecologically clean regions of Ukraine. Nadia ensures that the herbs are collected following strict rules and technologies to preserve their beneficial properties and maintain the highest quality. Her commitment to sustainability and ethical practices reflects her respect for nature, a value deeply ingrained in her upbringing.

For Nadia, herbs are not just products; they are sources of inspiration, harmony, health, and perfection. Her shop showcases an array of herbal teas and blends that cater to different needs, reflecting her belief in the year-round relevance of herbs.

Botanicum herbal shop in Kyiv

Freshly foraged herbs provide a year-round source of goodness; summer varieties can be dried and stored for winter, while in the colder months, evergreens can be foraged to create invigorating teas and cocktails that offer a rich source of beneficial substances and vitamins, supporting human health.

However, Nadia faces unique challenges in the Alps, notably high humidity that shortens the favorable herb collection time. Every sunny day becomes a precious opportunity to gather herbs, making each hike into the mountains a valuable experience.

“One of the most renowned and readily available Alpine plants is Fireweed, Ivan Chai, featuring vibrant pink flowers that thrive during an extended period in summer” – says Nadia. “This plant can be harvested, dried, or fermented, transforming into a nutrient-rich tea abundant in vitamins, capable of bolstering the immune system for the entire family throughout the year.

Beyond running Botanicum, Nadia envisions a future that includes mountain retreats and workshops, hikes, fostering discussions about herbs and their role in daily life. She aims to guide others on using herbs to soften life’s challenges and strengthen family health.

For those new to herbs, Nadia recommends listening to experts, reading books, and gradually incorporating less potent herbs into daily routines, establishing traditions that can be passed down through generations.

Herbs, according to Nadia, are an endless and fascinating world waiting to be explored. Through continuous study and exploration, individuals can expand their knowledge, improving their lives and embracing a brighter, healthier, and happier existence with the transformative power of herbs.

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