The Brevoorts started East Earth Herb in Oregon in the early 1970s, initially importing Chinese herbal preparations to sell to health food stores, food co-ops, and almost anyone who might be interested. In those days it was not unusual to sell herbs from a table at a crafts fair or outdoor concert. In the mid-1970s the Brevoorts lived in a rural setting near the Oregon coast, where they conducted their business in a somewhat isolated, natural environment.
“I remember having to call Peggy and Bill on what seemed like a ship-to-shore radio phone line,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council. “Back in those days, when many early herb business were just beginning (and many of today’s large herb companies had not started yet), the Brevoort’s company, East Earth, was a major source of some key ingredients and products. They are true pioneers.”
“Really it was Bill who had the burning interest in Chinese herbs,” said Peggy (e-mail, June 16, 2008). “I found my passion to be with the trade organizations that were growing along with the industry at that time.”
Brevoort has extensive experience with trade and other natural product organizations. Besides serving as president of East Earth Herb, and then continuing as president when it became A.M. Todd Botanicals in 1999, she has served as the president of the American Botanical Council’s (ABC) Board of Trustees since 2003.
“I believe at the last [ABC Board] meeting she turned down a motion that we make her president for life,” said John Weeks, editor and publisher of the Integrator Blog News and a fellow ABC Board of Trustees member (e-mail, June 16, 2008). “Hers will be tough shoes for the incoming president to fill when she steps down later this year.”
Brevoort has also served as the president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) from 1990–1994, and she describes her time as AHPA president as a “great and satisfying highlight” of her life.
Bill Brevoort, whom Peggy met in high school and married soon after, agreed that “Peggy makes an ideal board president,” (e-mail, June 16, 2008). “She always takes a neutral position and makes sure every viewpoint is presented. She makes sure the party represented by the board has a strategic plan and begins to fulfill it. She runs a no-nonsense meeting and gets the agenda done in a respectful way.”
Brevoort has also served on the board of several progressive organizations dealing with natural products including Biomed Comm Inc., United Plant Savers, the Corporate Alliance for Integrative Medicine Inc., Citizens for Health, and AHPA. Recently, she accepted a position on the Board of Trustees of Bastyr University in Seattle. “This is a huge honor for me—in the same way as being part of ABC,” said Brevoort. “These are 2 organizations we have known and supported for many, many years when we were in the herbal industry, and it is a pleasure to be able to ‘give back’ in some way to each of them.”
Lyn Ciocca, president of the marketing research firm Wellness Resources and close friend of Brevoort’s, describes Peggy’s friendship and intelligence: “She’s just an unusual combination of kindness, spirituality, curiosity, and brilliance,” said Ciocca (oral communication, June 16, 2008). “They have both been extraordinary friends to me. Bill is the artist/alchemist and Peggy is the pragmatist.”
Perhaps it’s Peggy Brevoort’s pragmatic mind that explains her math skills, which lead her to construct complicated labyrinths as a hobby. In fact, Brevoort currently has a 41-foot replica of the Chartres labyrinth in her backyard, a picture of which can be located by visiting www.veriditas.org. “If you knew how many stones I’ve moved for Peggy…” said Ciocca with a laugh, adding that Brevoort’s last labyrinth consisted of 860 stones that weighed about 17 pounds each.
Peggy Brevoort has also done a great deal of market research on the US Market for Botanicals and has lectured about this topic around the world. She was named Woman of the Year by the Association of Women in Natural Foods in 1990, and she received the Natural Business Communication’s Leadership in Business Award in 1999. After her retirement from A.M. Todd Botanicals in 2000, Peggy founded Brevoort LLC, a holding company for mostly non-herbal projects such as projects involving things like astronomy, real estate holdings, and medicinal plant research. Peggy Brevoort currently lives on 10 acres in Hawaii where she continues her labyrinth-building hobby.
—Kelly E. Saxton