The Medicine Man: Dr. Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen
"Seek excellence for the service of others."
Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, Ph.D. grew up in the wilds of Minnesota where his parents and grandparents utilized the amazing wild foods and medicinal plants found in local woods, fields, and lakes. The oneness with nature that Dr. Vorderbruggen has known since childhood is foundation to who he is today.
Though his first love was always nature, Mark knew he’d be a scientist and focused on chemistry with the goal to study medicine to stop the aging process. This led to him getting a BS in professional chemistry from South Dakota State University followed by a MS in medicinal chemistry and a PH.D. in physical organic chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technical university in the US. During those long years of studying he still found time to learn on his own the fascinating chemistry of plants. After graduation a strange twist of fate set him traveling the world as a petroleum chemist rather than in pharmaceuticals. However, his knowledge of natural products blessed him with the ability to tap natural compounds to replace traditionally hazardous oilfield chemicals. During this career he earned fourteen chemical patents that made the petroleum industry safer for all. After 20 years of that he moved on to the position of R&D Manager for a consumer chemical product company. Here Dr. Vorderbruggen reinvented their line of construction chemical products, safely and effectively replacing the dangerous compounds the industry had been using. He also spearheaded the company’s R&D efforts for a whole new line of personal care products designed to protect people from the toxins they encounter daily.
But during this time as a chemist, husband for over twenty years, and father of two daughters his love of nature also drove him to teach people about the miraculous plants nature has to offer. His passion for wild, useful plants earned him the nickname "Merriwether" from his peers. The name came from Merriweather Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. Dr. Vorderbruggen's evenings and weekends were spent creating the website Foraging Texas to help people connect to nature and by 2014 he was recognized nationally as an expert in wild edible and medicinal plants. His passion for foraging and wildcrafting comes across in his foraging classes and medicine making workshops, the daily plant posts on social media, his weekly, live internet show “Merriwether’s World!”, monthly foraging articles for CHARM East Texas magazine, authoring books such Idiot’s Guide Foraging and The Medicinal Plants of Texas (to be published 2022), and countless appearances on TV, radio, and interviews across the internet. He extols the benefits of being more in touch (and taste!) with the small bits of wild that were still available.
The winding path of his past has finally led Dr. "Merriwether" to the place where he belongs. With Medicine Man Plant Co. he now has the resources needed to bring the ancestral plants directly to people. His original dream of sharing the healing powers of nature with others has come true!