3 Herb Mamas

THE ECOLOGICAL, SOCIAL & ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY OF SUPPORTING LOCAL HERBALISM

Rose Hips

Vitamin C-rich Rose Hips from Rosa canina in my yard

Rose Hip Syrup

Wonderfully delicious Rose Hip syrup gathered from my garden and prepared for winter colds & flu prevention. Yumm!

Herbalists are as varied as the flowers of the field so I do not pretend to speak for all. However, I am feeling so grateful, at this time of the year especially, for the support I find in my local community. This blog post has been brewing for awhile. Every person who has contacted me, ignoring my quirky lack of advertising and promotion, and accepting my simple, homemade packaging, in order to purchase soaps, salves, syrups, or other herbal preparations for their holiday gifting has been counted as a blessing. I really feel encouraged and supported. Thank you!

Supporting a local herbalist whether through purchase of herbal products, attending classes offered, or spreading the word to others who might be interested offers three major benefits and all are rooted in sustainability. They are ecological, social, and economic sustainability. They build communities as well as relationships between individuals as well as health on many levels.

Wineberry Centerpiece

A summer harvest of wild Wineberries provides a favorite fresh treat with more than enough for jam making. The Sunflowers attract pollinators, feed us with beauty, and the birds with seeds.

When we find a local herbalist to support we also support ecological sustainability. An herbalist who grows, wildcrafts (gathering where no man, or woman, has sown), preserves, and prepares her/his own herbs for a variety of purposes will automatically have an eye to conserving the resources because repeated harvests year in and year out, season after season is essential. Because local herbalists are mainly concerned with providing their local communities’ needs, as opposed to building a large, broad customer base, they will be keeping an eye on the status of wild species, planning their gardens for appropriate harvests to meet local needs, and making sure to keep production clean and green since they live where they work and will reap the benefits (or consequences) of anything used to amend or nourish the soils in which they grow.

DSCF1700

Gathering St. John’s Wort (an important herb traditionally used for addressing depression and healing wounds as well as achy muscles) for making oil & tincture on or around the Summer Solstice is an annual habit I look forward to all year. Some years the plants are abundant and productive with a high hypericin content. Other years they are scanty and less vital. I can adjust harvests accordingly and plan for alternative herbs to use if necessary.

Supporting local herbalists is socially sustainable because this is someone with whom you continue to interact well past the time of an initial purchase. Herbalists are generally dedicated to ongoing education and you can count on being able to get answers and information along with any herbal preparation whether it is as simple as a bar of natural soap or tea blend for clearing congestion. They know the herbs they use intimately, having often tended them all the way from seed to product. They know why they have included every single ingredient, its purpose, actions, and attributes. And they are usually more than happy to share that. If something is not effective or there is a problem you have someone to come back to for other options. A local herbalist is invested in you being not only satisfied with a given herbal preparation but in your optimum health and vitality because you are part of the same community that she/he lives in.

motherwort_closeup

Motherwort in flower; a local “weed” that can be wildcrafted for heart health and cyclical balance for women.

Lastly, there is economic sustainability as a byproduct of supporting a local herbalist. More money stays in your community. We live in a rural area where grocery shopping is at least 30 minutes away from many of us and the closest larger city is an hour away. A local herbalist is likely close by and/or will meet you halfway or even deliver to your door if you are somewhere along the route of her/his travels locally. Often packaging can be simple because your herbs and herbal preparations are not being shipped long distances. This encourages using recycled and recyclable materials that are at hand. I generally use canning jars and lids for most of my preparations because they are readily available and save money and natural resources over mail ordering specialty containers, professionally printed labels, and other packaging. Every dollar spent with your local herbalist can be viewed as an investment in a stronger, cleaner community.

Oats at Milky Stage

Oats in the “milky stage” which only lasts about 3 days. Gathered at this time and preserved they provide optimum nourishment for a healthy nervous system.

Think Globally. Act Locally is still a good slogan and perfectly suited to herbs. Consider this blog post my thank you note and virtual hug along with wishes for a blessed and healthy holiday season! ~Leenie

comfrey

Comfrey in all her beautiful glory in my garden!

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Croany herbs

Nearly twenty years ago, now, I first read Susun Weed’s book called “Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way”.  InImage that book she wrote about being crowned as a Croan.  Not until then had I ever read anything positive about being an “old Croan”.   I’m still not fond of the word, but I’ve become quite fond of the place.  No, I’ve never participated in a Croaning ceremony, but I’ve certainly paid the price of youth and the growing up years to come to this place of wisdom and peace.  I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and my interest in herbs was due to a class that a much younger herbalist gave in the 1990’s in her peaceful home.  Her great knowledge allowed me to swim through the meno years much easier than I otherwise might have.  From that I fed an interest in herbals and all things alternate.  I knew I’d had some influence on the younger generation when the simple use of a neti pot gave my 10 year old grandson the idea of describing my “coolness” to his peers.  “My grandma is so cool that she pours water into her nose and it comes out her eyes”.  Obviously he was looking from afar and rather than seeing the water come out of the other nostril, to him it was coming out of my eyes.  Regardless it seemed I was something magical to this young spirit.

All my grandsons live a few hours away from us, so my influence is only slight.  Nevertheless when the oldest had colic, I was quick to offer catnip and fennel tincture to help it along and then nourishing herbal teas to my daughter in law during her second pregnancy.

Then the granddaughter came to us last July, (2013).  She lives HERE, just ten minutes away.  Her parents were desirous that she have no non-organic foods or formula until it became absolutely necessary (if ever).  My son and daughter in law were adamant that they wanted to protect our Hannah from the harmful effects of chemicals, pesticides and all the offenders that are suspect in our food chain.  Thankfully in this time we live it is quite easy to find all things organic within the stores, no matter how far away out you live. Our daughter in law works full time so growing it all isn’t as easy just yet.  But we’ll get there.

Nevertheless, one vice we all share is that we are pretty heavy tea drinkers in our homes.  Our Son and his wife drink tea and we drink tea.  While I was raised on hot, black tea early on, no one wanted our Hannah to have caffeine.  But, still, when she saw me drinking hot or cold tea, it was obvious she wanted some.  So, hmmmm, what’s an herbal tea drinker to do?  Well, what DO I DO?   For the first thing, I have a pretty extensive library of books ~ all things herbal, so I started thinking which herbs were favorites of mine and which herbs did I have in my herb pantry. A quick research on what would be good for Hannah and still taste good to her new little tasty buds was first priority.   My favorite herb is Tulsi Basil and I love the taste of it in tea.  While it’s not generally used for very young children, I knew at the time that H1N1 had broken out here pretty heavily, so a bit in a tea wouldn’t hurt her and she hadn’t had her flu vaccine yet, so it was a good time to add just a bit to the mix.   Spearmint tastes and smells wonderful, so I added some to the mix thinking it would help with gas and reflux  along with a few Linden blossoms to do the same for her.  The fruit from the rose would be next…. a few rose hips to add vitamin C and a tarter taste to compliment the mint.  And tea is not complete with a bit of lemon, so I added some Melissa, (lemon balm), to the tea blend as an antiviral.  I knew I didn’t want too many ingredients just in case I had to eliminate some if the tea bothered her.  Because I was in a hurry I added the items by the handful except the Linden which was maybe 1/4 cup.  The smell of the tea was wonderful.  Now to see what Hannah thought!  After mixing the blend by hand I took a teaspoon and placed it into a small one cup pot.  Let it steep for 5 minutes and poured it into a sippy cup.  I also added an ice cube to cool it.  Hannah went berserk.  She loved the herbal tea and fussed every time I put the cup down.  It was a simple blend to tighten up her immune system and settle her tummy after lunch at the same time.  I don’t feed it to her every day, but I could, and I don’t give it to her at every meal, though I could.  I’m starting her off early and plan on having her with me to play in the dirt and herbs this summer.  She’ll learn to identify, gather,dry and store; then blend, tincture and all the other fun stuff with herbals as she grows, Lord willing.  What a great legacy for an old Croan to leave to her only (for now) granddaughter.  Thinking of Spring, Janet

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