By Laurel Harris Durenberger
I first met Megan Stypulkoski back in 2018 when she stopped into my antique shop for a visit. She gravitated to vintage items such as anthropomorphic figurines and unique fabric and vessels featuring plants and vegetables. She shared that she was a local artist and had studied art and chemical ecology at Marlboro College in Vermont. I asked if she would be willing to share her artwork with me and she, of course, opened her phone and introduced me to an incredible family of characters. I immediately identified with them. They reminded me a bit of the wonderful world of characters in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his book “The Little Prince.”
Megan continues to focus on her art, believing that artwork is the best way to connect to others. She started her series of whimsical illustrations of anthropomorphic vegetable art in 2017, a series she started specifically to share her fascination with the plant world. Over the years, her style has become more developed. Working
primarily in watercolor, her pieces give personality and life to the common cabbage or potato.
I further learned that Megan is an herbalist and has recently opened a truly unique shop in town, Sheep Hill Herbals. Her interest in plants began when she was young when she immersed herself in learning more about the plants growing around her. These interests only deepened for her as a student. Her studies in herbalism informed her belief that the plant world is huge and goes far beyond botany – it encompasses our foods, often our clothing, and historically, the bulk of our medicines and dyes. She shared that the history of humankind is entangled with plants, but our relationships to them are often forgotten or ignored.
Following graduation in 2016, Megan sought hands-on work with plants. Uninterested in research and fieldwork, she began studying herbal medicine, which was a natural extension of her interests in plant biochemistry and ethnobotany. Megan is interested in all subjects, but has found herbal medicine particularly fascinating and has created a business that successfully integrates all of her interests.
You can explore the wonderful world of Megan Stypulkoski, The Lowly Esculent at her shop where you can find her illustrated works on display and for sale, along with organic looseleaf herbal teas, tinctures and wonderful gift items. She also offers herbal consultation and unique workshops. Find Megan’s shop, Sheep Hill Herbals, at 919 Main Street in Historic Boonton, NJ and at linktr.ee/sheephillherbals.
Laurel Harris Durenberger is the owner of Time’s Tin Cup Vintage Emporium at 410 Main Street in Boonton.