Gerti Epple knows all about wild plants and their uses. Armed with this knowledge, and together with the Allgäuer Kräuterland association, she inspires more and more people, as we found out when we met her
Herbalist Gerti Epple
The path leads through an earth-coloured cave in the heart of the village of Weitnau in the Upper Allgäu. Photographs of impressive plants hang on the walls. The fragrance of smoke-cured herbs floats through the corridors. People are laughing and chatting. This is a seminar led by Gerti Epple, the first President of the Allgäu Kräuterland e.V. The association was set up to propagate knowledge about traditional meadow and medicinal herbs and thus to preserve an ancient custom in the Allgäu.
Preserving ancient wisdom
For thousands of years, people in this region of Bavaria have been harnessing the powers of native wild herbs. Masterwort, mountain arnica and sanicula, as well as stinging nettles and ground elder – all these plants have been growing in the Allgäu since time immemorial. Back in the 16th century, the physician Paracelsus became aware of the wound-healing properties of sanicula.
He claimed, The sanicula is so effective, so healing, it would heal the meat in a stewpot.” Over the last few decades, much herbal lore has been lost – but Gerti Epple is bringing it back to life. And with it the history of her homeland.
"We want to preserve the old knowledge"
As a child in the Allgäu, she naturally grew up with the local medicinal herbs. “I lived on a farm, and in the spring my mother would cook with sorrel, clover and dandelion,” explains Gerti Epple. When she went off to university, she found that she missed the herbs. So a few years later she took the decision to rediscover the plants for herself, and to inspire others to realise the properties of medicinal herbs.
Together on the trail
She read textbooks, went on training courses and, in 2000, together with inns, hotels and other herb enthusiasts, formed the association known as Allgäuer Kräuterland e.V. “We all share the same idea: We want to preserve the old knowledge, revive herb-related practices and protect natural and wild herb locations and wild areas,” declares the President of the association.
Her homeland and its history are dear to her heart. This is why Gerti Epple offers guided herb tours and organises regular seminars. There she shares with participants her extensive knowledge of health, healing, cooking and self-sufficiency using native wild herbs.
It is her passion for herbs and her love of tradition that ensure that this mother and professional educational consultant always finds time for the Academy for Traditional Healing Knowledge. “After all, I don’t do all the work on my own. I have a great team around me and I also manage to get other people excited and mobilised by my ideas,” enthuses Gerti Epple.
Herbs are enjoying a resurgence
Together with her course participants, they grind the medicinal herbs, rub them, breathe in the special aroma and learn to distinguish them from other herbs. They cook with the plants and eat the dishes together in the group. Long after the seminar is over, home-made herb oils remind participants of their exciting adventures on the trail of Allgäu history.
Traditions have always been important for Gerti Epple – but she is not one to simply preserve them. “I find the saying ‘Tradition is not about holding on to the ashes, but keeping the fire going’ very significant,” says the herb expert. Her association is contributing to the continuation of the history of native medicinal herbs in the Allgäu – with great success: More and more people are finding their way back to the power of nature in the Allgäu and thus continuing the Bavarian traditions.
Find our more about Allgäu herb country (only in German)
... from Gerti
In the Allgäu region, there are several herb villages that offer herb walks. Just as one does "vacation on the farm", "vacation on the herb farm" is offered there. We also have several herb hotels and herb restaurants that have networked with us and implement the theme of herbs in their rooms and dishes. They are spread throughout the Allgäu, from Füssen to Schwangau to Stiefenhofen.
allgaeuer-kraeuterland.de/kraeuterdoerfer (only in German)