Lähirohtola (Local Plant Pharmacy) is a community art project that aims at establishing a plant pharmacy where from the neighbourhood residents can collect local plants and information of their use. The plants in the pharmacy are naturally growing in the area and can be foraged by anyone. Most of them are even familiar to many but not so many know about their features that ad to the well-being. They are usually considered as unwanted weeds. The idea behind the project is to present plants as companions, collaborators and members of the community. This happens trough learning about them and establishing an empathic connection with them.
Essential part of the Lähirohtola are the Kasvilähettiläät (Plant Ambassadors) who represent different plants. In year 2018, five people acted as Plant Ambassadors in Kaarela neighbourhood, Helsinki representing nettles, dandelion, yarrow, greater plantain and chicken weed. Plant Ambassadors collected and dried their own plants for their own and for the common Lähirohtola use. They also spread information about the plant. The concept is based on particular Indian tradition where different families over generations represent different species of flora and fauna, making sure these species are in save and their voice heard in human domain.
There was a workshop day for the Plant Ambassadors to learn to forage plants and prepare plant medicine, Sap -public event and several open-to-all plant walks organised during summer 2018. Plant walks included learning and collecting the plants as well as meditative sessions of creating a deeper connection to the local ecosystem. The plants collected during these walks were then dried and placed in the Lähirohtola installation for everyone to try them and learn about them throughout the following winter.
Plant Ambassadors of the Kaarela 2018:
Marjatta Lydman (dandelion ambassador)
Terhi Näveri (greater plantain ambassador)
Sinikka Alapiha (yarrow ambassador)
Hilla Lähdesmäki (chicken weed ambassador)
Markus Niukkanen (nettle ambassador)
Folk healer and phytologist Maaria Alén was the collaborator in the project regarding the plant medicine.
Lähirohtola was a part of Taidekehä, a community art projects series organised by Helsinki Artist Society Special thank you to coordinator and producer Anna Puhakka, all the people who took part in the walks and plant ambassadors as well as Kanneltalo and Helsinki Community College (Kanneltalo).
Lähirohtola was exhibited in Kanneltalo, Helsinki 6. – 27.12.2018.