Sakari Botanicals was founded in 2014 by Spring Alaska Olson, under the Department of Agriculture’s USDA Inter-Tribal Agricultural Council. The word “Sakari” means “sweet” in the traditional Inupiaq language Olson uses traditional practices she learned from her Inuit family to grow local plants, flowers and herbs and create oils, salves, teas, and more.
Olson grew up in Valdez, Alaska, and is committed to making sure her products honor her Tribe’s values and traditions. She grows dozens of different plants, including Lavender, Calendula, Roses, Elderberries, Lomatium, Comfey, Yarrow, and more, and saves the seeds and uses the whole plant to create foods and healing materials.
The farm is located in Tumalo, Oregon, all of the plants are produced with organic or native seed and are either hand-collected or foraged at an on-site nursery.
When Olson was young, the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred, inspiring her to pursue a degree in Natural Resource Management and Psychology. She received her degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Olson said it was her own exploration of plant materials and conversations with other students that inspired her the most.
Sakari Botanicals offers a range of medicinal, healing plant materials, teas made from locally grown flowers and berries, lip balms made from local beeswax, and culinary salts.
Olson’s commitment to respecting and honoring the land goes beyond her business. She also serves on the Deschutes County Weed Board, helping community members identify and eradicate noxious weeds. She also owns the Central Oregon Seed Exchange, collecting and identifying seeds and packaging them for purchase.
The purpose of the program is to make it easier for community members to grow local, native plants. Local farmers then donate a portion of the seed, and Olson donates a seed packet to every child in the Bend-La Pine school district to encourage the practice.
Olson strives to educate others on the practice of growing local plants and identifying and saving seeds. As part of the Inter Tribal Food program, she hosts classes and travels around the country to educate Native people about utilizing traditional practices to make locally-sourced products.
Olson said a tribal member internship will be offered this summer, allowing the regional tribes of the Grande Ronde and Warm Springs to partake in tribal food cooking classes and harvesting demonstrations.
Sakari Botanicals offers site visits on farm education and tours for those interested. Visit www.sakarifarms.weebly.com to learn more.
Passing down these practices to the next generation is important to Olson, and she has passed down her own traditions to her daughter.
“I try to encourage my daughter to lead by example,” Olson said. This will allow her to develop a lifelong skill set of honoring herself and others. We work together on the farm growing, harvesting, saving seed and packaging our plant materials.”