Bringing Ethnobotany Home

Garden Researcher Recognized for Bosnian Ethnobotany Research


Ashley Glenn, Research Specialist at the William L. Brown Center, has been selected as the 2017 Richard Evans Schultes Research Award Recipient for her project “Exploring migrating foodways through the cuisine of St. Louis Bosnians.” 

“It’s the story of how people move here and set up home, and how their food and use of plants adapts to the new place” – Ashley Glenn, Research Specialist

The William L. Brown Center is a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden that explores ethnobotany, the study of how people use plants. Glenn started this research project after Missouri Botanical Garden president Peter Wyse Jackson noticed there weren’t any local ethnobotany projects. “It’s the story of how people move here and set up home, and how their food and use of plants adapts to the new place,” explains Glenn. “How they hold onto the past but also integrate into St. Louis.” Glenn, being from St. Louis, suggested focusing on Bosnian culture.

St. Louis has the largest Bosnian population outside of Bosnia. Nearly seventy-thousand Bosnians live in the Gateway City, with the first wave arriving in the 1990s during the Bosnian War. “St. Louis is a hot spot for refugees to get settled because we have good housing costs, relatively easy living, and a good amount of entry-level jobs.” Once settled, Bosnian refugees started restaurants and businesses, which added to the local economy. The project will tell the story of kitchens, gardens, and parties of Bosnian people in order to celebrate the lives they set up in St. Louis.

Glenn is currently in the second phase of the project, learning about Bosnian food here in St. Louis. “Bosnians are very into barbecue, breads, meats, and veggies. So it’s really hearty good fresh food. It’s really easy to love.”

The Schultes Award was created in 2001 to honor the late Dr. Richard Evans Schultes. The award is to be presented annually to a graduate student who is a members of the Society, or a member who has received their degree within a year. The award is intended to help defray the costs of field work on a topic related to economic botany. Glenn is presenting the project at the 58th SEB Annual Conference in Bragança, Portugal, hosted in early June, where she will also receive the award. Afterwards, she’s traveling to Bosnia to continue her research. The award will help fund the cost of field research.


Photo: Suzann Gille

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