One week before the COVID-19 lockdowns, Veronica Moore, a plant therapy advocate, entrepreneur and educator, visited her local nursery to grab some new plants, hoping they would lift her late winter blues.
And lift them they did.
Little did Moore know that that short trip would bring her back full circle to her childhood, comfort her in her grief over the loss of her sister, and spark a new business venture geared towards helping others.
Brown Skin Plant Mama, Moore’s plant therapy practice, is described as a place that welcomes the interest in and exploration of growing plants and food and the impact that can have on our lives. There is no question on the ability of plants and gardens to heal our mind, body and spirit, Moore said.
With Brown Skin Plant Mama, she offers workshops that teach individuals and groups how to discover the joy in the work of tending to plants. In these classes, Moore covers topics like repotting, making your own soil, and edible plants and their benefits.
She channels the spirit of her mother, she said, a master gardener, who first taught Moore how to grow plants and foods from seeds.
“Plant therapy is real,” she said. “Growing with my plants through my grief journey helped me to understand that I could nurture things again. I was in a dark place and taking care of myself emotionally was a hard task. Plants helped open my eyes.”
Moore, whose career background is in higher education administration, considers herself an educator in her current business. “Once you’re in education the desire to have a positive impact on others never goes away,” she said. “It’s a lifetime practice.”
Today, much like her own mother, Moore shares the love of gardening with her own daughter. Assisting in the garden kept her daughter busy and fulfilled during the pandemic, Moore said, and she wanted to share that kind of joy with other children. What started with donating plants to one classroom at her daughter’s school, Allentown’s Swain School, she said, soon spread schoolwide and beyond.
“I created this program to help other children learn the benefits of plant therapy,” Moore said. “We are currently at two schools in the Lehigh Valley, including Bethlehem’s Fountain Hill Elementary, and growing.”
When asked why she thinks children connect so much with raising plants, Moore said that children love to experiment and watch things change. Caring for plants is a natural activity they can partake in that is inexpensive, she explained, and allows them to learn helpful skills like patience, kindness, positivity and responsibility.
Moore’s website, brownskinplantmama.com offers merchandise, event information, a free plant buying guide, and forms to inquire about and schedule workshops and therapy visits.
And though plant therapy is a relatively unknown concept to the general public, it is certainly not new.
“Many people partake in it whether it’s tending to a garden, watering indoor houseplants or getting your hands in the soil,” Moore said. “It’s scientifically proven that plants improve our mood and relieve stress.”
Some people may shy away from naming it therapy, she said, yet they’ve been practicing it for years and even decades. Brown Skin Plant Mama aims to help people simplify that concept by making it a normal part of our routine.
What began as an unexpected pivot during the pandemic has become a calling for Moore.
“I am humbled,” she said, “to be the vessel to do such divinely inspired empowerment work.”