One of my joys on Mt. Athos was meeting Trifun Graic through Monk Trifun at Hilandar Monastery. In three short walks, he showed me many herbs that could be used for medicinal purposes. One of them was a fern (Serbian: papret) that I used to make a tea for seven days that removed or greatly shrunk a bladder stone, with which I had been suffering! Every year he guides the monks in caring for over 1,000 olive trees there!
En route back to the USA, I was able to visit he and his family in Montenegro. In addition, I saw and enjoyed his excellent vineyards, as well as many herbs in his garden. It turns out Vladika LONGIN knew him in Krajina in the Dalmatian region, where he used to be an agronomist. He visited us at the monastery last year, and after the visit, we received a blessing to prepare a vineyard at the monastery to eventually serve the Diocesan needs for communion wine. In addition, he guided us in preparing many of the plants growing at the monastery to become herbal supplements for health needs.
He returned this past May and stayed with us for three weeks while we planned the vineyard. We visited local vineyards, and several near Niagra Falls, where some award winning vineyards, cultivated by men from Krajina, gave us important ideas for a more Northern climate.
Some might think, "can any good wine come out of Missouri?" But over 130 years ago, when the French vineyards were negatively affected by parasites, they turned to Missouri for assistance. Indeed, the Missouri vineyards around Hermann, Missouri gained their notoriety from this period (http://www.missouriwinecountry.com/articles/history/).
Our hope is that through your prayers, Trifun's guidance, generous support and God's mercy, this can become an ongoing part of our monastic endeavor.