Understory Apothecary began in 2010, when Sean Croke was living with his then partner Rylee Uhrich in a little cabin in the middle of the woods. Sean had been making medicines from the many herbs that grew in abundance in the woods right around this cabin for many years, and providing these finished medicines to the people in his community for their health.
He went on to study herbalism and wildcrafting under a number of teachers, and came to extend his harvest grounds to cover the majority of the Cascadian bioregion, from the rain-forests of the Olympic Peninsula to the high deserts of Southeastern Oregon. The two of them began to sell their tinctures in local farmer’s markets as well as at herbal conferences up and down the West coast.
Sean then began also harvesting and selling fresh wildcrafted and garden grown herbs to other medicine making companies and herbalists all across the country. During this time Sean also became the primary medicine maker for the now defunct Olympia Free Herbal Clinic, where he was also a practitioner.
Understory Apothecary is all about cultivating deep, long term, healing relationships between plants and humans. All of the plants that we work with are our dear friends and comrades. We hope that we can extend these friendships to other humans out there for the benefit of all involved. Thank you so much for taking a look at our offerings!
All along we have been learning new herbs, meeting them in the wilds and gardens, and learning how to cultivate and propagate them in order to keep the plants more and more abundant in the world instead of decimating their populations through bad harvest practices. Rylee has moved on to bigger and better things since the beginning of the business, but Sean is still running it mostly on his own but with the constant support of his partner Thea Schnase and their child Juniper. The business currently lives on 25 acres of farmland in Littlerock, Washington which is within Chehalis tribal territory. All of the herbs that are sold fresh or processed into tinctures are either harvested by Sean and a few select accomplices or grown on the farm.
Our tinctures are the main products that we make, and we take a lot of pride in the quality of these precious medicines. All tinctures are made with freshly harvested plant material that is processed either immediately following harvest or after being carefully shade-dried if that is necessary to make the best quality tincture from that specific plant.
All tinctures are made using organic cane ethanol with traditional ratios and percentages in order to create a quality and reproducible product. Our tinctures are currently worked with by herbalists and naturopaths all across the country and even with a few international practitioners. We also, of course, ship tinctures to individuals who are not practitioners so that they can work with these beautiful plants for their own health.
We also create a limited amount of essential oils from locally abundant plants including Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis). We have been working with the distillers of Cascadia Terroir, a local essential oil distillery, for almost a decade now and have recently built our own essential oil still.
We do still provide fresh harvested herbs to some select clients although we have had to cut back to a certain extent to be able to continue to do our harvests with the same quality and care that we always have.
The main focus of this business and this project is to propagate the plants either out in the field or back in the home gardens and we are strict about not over-harvesting and actively working to expand the wild stands.
Sean also teaches these principles and practices through the Hawthorn School of Plant Medicine, and has a clinical practice in which he sees clients on a sliding scale basis utilizing these same quality medicines.