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During the gala in the Belvedere restaurant, Warsaw, we learned the winners of the Herbapol Essence of Nature Award 2021. For the first time, the event was broadcast live on social media. The Gala's host was Agnieszka Woźniak-Starak, and the evening ended with a concert by Krzysztof Zalewski.

This year's meeting confirmed that, as ever, we absolutely need nature in our lives. On the one hand, it sharpens the senses; on the other, it allows them to rest. Keeping in touch with nature raises sensitivity, inspires to act, gives meaning to events in our lives, both family and professional. It triggers in many the potential to push the limits of their abilities or to disagree with realities that threaten the environment. Because nature deals with the basics not spoilt by human civilisation. 

The Chapter decided to award the prizes in the following categories:

  • NATURE AND SCIENCE: Katarzyna Simonienko, PhD, psychiatrist, promoter of medical knowledge in the field of forest therapy, author, among others, of the book Forest Therapy (Lasoterapia), forest bathing guide.
  • NATURE AND EDUCATION:  Fundacja trzy cztery! (three four! Foundation), whose mission is to prevent the syndrome of nature deficit and to remove its negative effects. A key example of its activities is the first forest kindergarten “Puszczyk” in Poland, operating throughout the year under Bialystok. The prize was accepted by the founders of the Foundation and the “Puszczyk” forest kindergarten – Dorota Zaniewska and Agnieszka Kudraszow.
  • NATURE AND SOCIAL MEDIA: Artur Zagajewski, PhD, an ornamental plant enthusiast who shares his knowledge in short videos posted on social media.
  • WITH NATURE THROUGH LIFE: Karolina Ferenstein-Kraśko, who promotes a healthy lifestyle surrounded by nature and continues the family tradition, the owner of a stud farm in Masuria who takes care of horses excluded from normal functioning. On behalf of the winner, who could not attend the event, the award was collected by her long-time collaborator Tomasz Godek.
  • NATURE IN ART: Urszula Zajączkowska, author of the book Sticks and Stalks (Patyki I Badyle), poet, botanist, and visual artist.
  • IN THE COMPANY OF NATURE: Mateusz Waligóra, a traveller who was the first person ever to walk alone across the Mongolian part of the Gobi Desert. He recently travelled 1,200 km on foot along the Vistula River and 580 km along the Polish coast in search of answers about the future of our nature in the face of ongoing climate change.
  • BEAUTIFUL BY NATURE: Orina Krajewska, actress, co-founder and president of the Małgosia Braunek Foundation "Bądź́" ("Be"), promoter of integral medicine and a holistic lifestyle. She was awarded for her holistic approach to taking care of oneself, listening to one's spiritual, mental and physical needs, seeing beauty in more than just what we see on the outside and paying attention to how wise it is to strive to be supported by nature as much as possible.
  • During the ceremony, a SPECIAL HERBAPOL ESSENCE OF NATURE AWARD 2021 was also awarded. It went to Robert Makłowicz, recognised for his ability to share his natural passion for cooking, unwavering enthusiasm, genuine delight at the surrounding scenery which has accompanied his programmes for over 20 years, his sense of humour and contagious laughter, for recalling and discovering the flavours of regional cuisine and bringing them back to the next generation, for being himself no matter what. The winner, unable to attend the Gala personally, thanked for the prize virtually.

Sincere congratulations to all the winners!

dr Artur Zagajewski