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Our Story | Taos Herb Company

Rob Hawley, on an instructional herb walk
Rob Hawley with a Wild Herb Class
From 1975 to 1993, Dr. Robert Hawley was a Taos Pathologist and Cardiologist, and with his wife, Ann, raised six children. Dr. Hawley was a strong patient advocate. Also a storyteller, Dr. Hawley treasured the Taoseños (people who live in Taos) traditions of storytelling and folk healing and upheld these traditions as critical to patient well-being. Ann Saint John Hawley was a prolific artist actively worked in drawing, painting, printmaking, and mixed media work. She continues to provide a graceful and powerful example and inspiration to artists of both genders and all ages.

While some doctors would have been skeptical about the use of herbal medicine and curanderismo (a form of folk traditional healing that includes herbal medicine, healing rituals, and spiritualism common in Hispanic-American communities, particularly in the southwestern United States), he saw it as a critical component to wellness and healing.

Dr. Hawley, and his son Rob took a 2-week field trip with seminal herbal expert, Michael Moore.* After the exposure to herbs with Michael Moore, Rob became fascinated and began buying books and spending all his extra time in the forest around Taos and Southern Colorado picking plants and keying them out (identifying plants through a systematic procedure that looks at all of the parts: stems, seeds, and roots to identify the species). Rob pressed plant specimens in a big hard-bound book -- his improvised plant press and herbarium.

"In the real world you would use a plant press to dry and preserve an herb specimen," says Rob, "but starting out on a shoe-string, I found that pressing plants in a big heavy book worked just fine."

Isahbo Hawley
A few months after that field trip, it was Dr. Hawley's idea to start an herb store. Rob, his sister Tina and husband Fritz opened a little 400 square foot herb store at their first location on Camino de la Placita. "We started out as purists, selling only bulk herbs. We didn't have any extracts or body care products," Rob Hawley recalls.

With Michael Moore's instruction and a lot of book studying, Tina and Rob learned how to extract herbs. Rob's wife, Julie, jumped into the business as well. A few of the first extractions created by Tina and Rob were Ginseng, Osha, and Motherwort. Now Taos Herb Company manufactures hundreds of products from organic and sustainably wildcrafted herbs, and offers custom-blended extracts, compounds, essential oils, aromatherapy, traditional ceremonial herbs, smudge sticks, and Yerba Hair Care products. Stop by the Taos Herb Co. Retail store, and you will most likely experience an energetic exchange of information and customized service.

To this day, friends and customers come to the store and ask Rob and Tina to identify plants and medicinal herbs.

Osha Root
Grows only in the Rocky Mountains
Rob sponsored many of Michael Moore's herb classes in Taos, but with Michael's encouragement, began teaching as well. He started conducting wild plant walks out in the woods around Taos, looking for such plants as poleo, willow, osha, chamiso, nettle, potentilla, arnica, plantain, betony, valerian, skullcap, bugleweed, chimaja, coronilla, inmortal, mullein, horsetail, and añil del muerto. Rob's teaching expanded to include the forest service, the BLM, public schools, and Medical School.

In 1999, Taos Herb Company began selling online, and has been selling to wholesale customers since 1984.

*Michael Moore was a renaissance man, self-taught in botany, biochemistry, anatomy/physiology, endocrinology, as well as the consummate schools of herbal healing. Michael Moore passed away in Spring of 2009. "He was a good friend and mentor," says Rob, reflecting on the most important teacher in his career.
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