The Farmer’s Basket Presents the Philosopher’s Physic Garden

The open forum of a marketplace provides a refreshing getaway from shopping aisles.  Each venue offers a unique setting that may include activities for children, live entertainment, and an array of foods.  The curious shopper discovers she has direct access to fresh and locally grown fruits, herbs, flowers, and vegetables, dairy-based products, proteins, homemade goodies, and artisan-based, handmade crafts. In addition, the welcoming man, woman, or couple behind the table provides a small sampling of popular items.  Whether you are a first-timer or a repeat customer, take the time to introduce yourself, ask questions, and inquire if owners receive visitors, offer a produce box, or have a farm store. The answer is likely “yes” or “it’s coming soon!”

Here and There and Home Again 

Born and raised in Winston-Salem, Tracy Lounsbury began his adult years with study and adventure. Prestigious universities with notable names like Duke, Harvard, and Oxford prepared Lounsbury to become a philosopher.  While studying at King’s College and The Warburg Institute in London, he became familiar with The Chelsea Physic Garden.  “I would often visit, impressed by their systematic arrangement of plants associated with various healing properties.” Lounsbury views himself as a philosopher of physic, which implies a scientific understanding of medicinal plants and botany. After extensive traveling between the United States and Europe, Lounsbury returned home to Winston-Salem and delved into an instinctual passion—gardening.

Keeper of the Physic Garden 

After retiring as a Professor of Philosophy, Lounsbury turned away from the metaphysical study to the physical aspect of nature.  His backyard offered at least adequate space to pursue this study, despite tall mature trees promoting shade and not a tiny bit of existential angst. One hand-built greenhouse soon had an extension and higher-level shelving. Where does one stop? Today Lounsbury has nine greenhouses.  Plant-lovers would understand the universal thrill of witnessing carefully planted seeds rise from the warm organic soil and mature into flourishing plants. Lounsbury is meticulous about organic gardening to the point where now all his watering needs are supplied by rain barrels, bypassing the harmful effects of chlorine found in city water.  

Selling to the Public 

Anyone who is botanically curious about a wide assortment of native, rare, and unique herbs, flowers, shrubs, trees, and fruit-bearing plants would enjoy ordering from The Philosopher’s Physic Garden. Lounsbury shares, “I grow all my plants from my own seeds, divisions, or by cuttings, which ensures that all my plants are locally adapted to our area.”  For the past 22 years, Lounsbury has amassed a considerable collection of various plants.  “I have 50 varieties of figs, 75 varieties of hydrangea, 20 varieties of elderberry, for example. I also have an extensive collection of tomato seeds.  For years, I sold over 300 varieties of heirloom tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market. Lately, I have been growing many of the blue tomatoes (first released to the public in 2011) and the so-called dwarf tomatoes—compact tomato plants with full-sized fruit which are ideal for container gardening.” 

Common to Unique 

Homeowners in need of beautifying their landscapes can shop from to find the following and more:

  • Herbs:  Among the varieties of basil, oregano, mints, and parsley, shoppers can purchase medicinal herbs, such as ashwagandha, ashitaba, burdock, catnip, comfrey, feverfew, mugwort, yarrow, St. John’s wort, Siberian ginseng, and stinging nettle
  • Flowers:  peonies, clematis, dahlia, salvia, hellebore, and Japanese anemone for beautification, or medical flowers like the coneflower, bee balm, hellebore, clary sage, and lavender.
  • Shrubs: gardenias, goji berry (red, black, and golden), chokeberries, elderberries, viburnums, ninebark, and hydrangeas.
  • Trees:  Japanese lilac, Himalayan birch, and fruit trees.
  • The Unique:  In addition to hard-to-find tomato varieties, consider the historically native but rare Franklin tree, schisandra, climbing hydrangea, flying dragon bitter orange, or even a monkey puzzle tree!

Cobblestone Farmer’s Market 

Between the hours of 9:30 AM to noon, shoppers attending the Old Salem farmers’ market, Cobblestone, at 1007 South Marshall Street, can visit the booth and meet Tracy Lounsbury. Expect a wide selection of plants and jars of honey—extracted from his backyard hives! Most customers order from the website in advance and pick up during market hours. On Sunday afternoons, a secondary pick-up location is Acadia Foods at 228 W. Acadia Avenue in Winston-Salem. 

Next Month:  Armstrong Artisan Farm


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