Archive for October, 2012
Posted by|31 October 2012
Celtic lore says that blackberries are fairy fruit and may bring bad luck to people who eat them. Blackberries were also considered protective against earthbound spirits and vampires. It is said that if planted near the home, a vampire couldn’t enter because he would obsessively count the berries and forget about the people inside.
Rosemary is shrouded in history and folklore. From ancient Greece through the European Middle Ages, rosemary was thought to possess the power to protect against evil spirits. Sprigs were placed under pillows or burned as incense to ward off evil demons and prevent bad dreams.
At funerals, fresh sprigs were tossed into the grave as a sign that the departed would not be forgotten. Even today, rosemary is offered as a symbol of love, friendship, and remembrance.
In some parts of Europe, it was believed that if an unmarried woman placed rosemary under her pillow, her future husband would be revealed to her in a dream.
This wonderfully versatile Allium bulb is believed to ward off evil spirits, vampires, werewolves, the evil eye, and spells in Central European folklore. People made garlic necklaces, hung the bulbs in windows, or rubbed it on chimneys, and keyholes to keep demons and beasts away.
In both ancient Greece and Rome, couples were crowned with wreaths of oregano at weddings as a charm to ensure their future joy. If oregano grew on a grave, it was an indication that the departed was happy in the afterlife.
During the Middle Ages, dill was believed to possess magical powers and could destroy evil spells. A drink made from dill leaves was the remedy for anyone who believed that a witch had cast a spell on them. People also wore charms made from dill leaves to protect themselves against evil spells.
Knights wore scarves with thyme leaves sewn on them during tournaments in the Middle Ages as charms of bravery.
In old English lore, if a person collected thyme flowers from hillsides where fairies lived, and then rubbed the flowers on their eyelids, they would be able to see the fairies.
In Victorian times, thyme was placed under pillows for prophetic dreams and to improve memory. Thyme was also potted with other herbs as a form of divination. Each pot was assigned the name of a desired lover and the plants that grew the fastest and the strongest would predict the love match.
According to legend, the plant’s name comes from the Archangel Michael. It is believed that the angel appeared in a monk’s vision to explain angelica’s protective powers against evil. It is also said that the plant was revealed to the angel in a dream as a cure for the plague. He then sent the plant down to earth to save people from the pestilence taking over Europe.
Angelica has also been used in herbal baths to remove curses and in purification spells. Sprinkling the leaves and flowers around the outside of the home is thought to protect against evil spirits. It is also used to make exorcism incense.
The ancient Egyptians used sage ceremonially. Pollen from the sage plant was found on the mummified body of King Ramesses II. In France, it is believed that sage can ease grief, so it is always grown in their graveyards.
In Norse mythology, Thor the God of Thunder is often represented by nettles and it is believed that burning them on the fire will protect you from his lightening during thunderstorms.
There is much folklore surrounding this plant and the stories are very different from region to region. In some areas it was thought that the elder tree could ward off evil influence and give protection from witches. Other stories say that witches often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of berries.
Some traditions believe that if you cut an elder tree and use the wood for bonfires, you will be cursed. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. However, the tree could be safely cut if you chanted a special rhyme to the Elder Mother.
Thought to be used by fairies to make magical wine, it is said that if a human drinks the elderberry wine, they will be able to see the fairies. These berries can also be burned on a fire to invite fairies to a gathering.
Hawthorn is one part of the magical triad of trees that are said to be sacred to the fairy folk. Oak, ash, and hawthorn, when growing naturally together, create a place where it is easy to see the fairies.
Hawthorns were once believed to be the transformed bodies of witches, who had shapeshifted into tree form. Others believed that the spirit seen in the Hawthorn was that of a dryad or wood nymph.
During the Middle Ages, fennel was hung above doorways and on rafters to ward off the devil. Fennel seeds were also placed inside keyholes in order to prevent ghosts from entering the house.
Also known as Elfswort, this root can be scattered around the home to attract the Aos Sí in Gaelic folklore. It can also be added to any magic spell to invoke Fairy blessings.
Heather is said to ignite fairy passions and open portals between their world and our own.
According to myth, the first roses did not have thorns. While Venus’ son Cupid smelled a rose, a bee came out and stung him on the lip. Venus then strung his bow with bees. She removed their stingers and placed them on the stems of the roses.
Myth also says that every rose was white until Venus punctured her foot on a thorny briar and some of the white petals were dyed red with her blood.
Roses are also said to attract fairies to the garden!
Posted by|30 October 2012
I absolutely love this time of year. People all over town are keeping warm and listening to the crackling sound of a wood stove, making home-cooked meals, and spending quality time with cherished friends and family.
There is something about soft, chewy caramel that conjures memories of this wonderful season. I remember childhood days at the pumpkin patch with my family. These pumpkin adventures always seemed to include handfuls of sweet treats! Along with our pumpkins, my brother and I would carry small, paper bags filled with sweet, chewy caramel delights. To this day, fall just isn’t complete without a caramel or two, wrapped in festive wax paper.
This cozy season offers a perfect excuse to spoil loved ones with this creamy, chewy, rosy treat!
Salted Rose Walnut Caramels
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 3/4 cup dried, organic rosebuds or petals
• 1/4 cup local honey
• 1 cup organic sugar
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped organic walnuts
• 1 teaspoon Cyprus flake salt
1. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until gently boiling. Add rosebuds, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain cream into a small bowl.
2. Combine honey and sugar in a medium pot. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until the mixture liquefies, boils, and turns amber in color.
3. Turn heat to medium and quickly stir in the butter. Once the butter is mixed in, turn the heat to low and quickly whisk in the cream.
4. While stirring constantly, cook the caramel to 250 degrees. Quickly add walnuts and salt before pouring into a loaf pan lined with wax paper.
5. Cool overnight.
6. Pull the caramel and wax paper out of the pan and set it on a cutting board. Carefully remove wax paper from caramel and cut caramel into 1 inch rectangle cubes.
7. Cut wax paper into wrappers. To wrap: center the caramel on one side of the square paper. Roll to form a tube and twist to close on each end.
8. For best results, keep the wrapped caramels in an airtight container.
Posted by|29 October 2012
Mmm…mmm…how I love this hot and sweet, zesty, vinegary recipe!
Fire Cider is a traditional remedy with deep roots in folk medicine. The tasty combination of vinegar infused with powerful anti-microbial, decongestant, and spicy circulatory movers makes this recipe especially pleasant and easy to incorporate into your daily diet to help boost the immune system, stimulate digestion, and get you nice and warmed up on cold days.
Because this is a folk preparation, the ingredients can change from year to year depending on when you make it and what’s growing around you. The standard base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, but there are plenty of other herbs that can be thrown in for added kick. This year I had lots of spicy jalapenos and vibrant rosemary in the garden, so I used those along with some organic turmeric powder in the cupboard and fresh lemon peel. Some people like to bury their fire cider jar in the ground for a month while it extracts and then dig it up during a great feast to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
Fire Cider can be taken straight by the spoonful, added to organic veggie juice (throw in some olives and pickles and think non-alcoholic, health boosting bloody mary!), splashed in fried rice, or drizzled on a salad with good olive oil. You can also save the strained pulp and mix it with shredded veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and fresh herbs to make delicious and aromatic stir-fries and spring rolls! I like to take 1 tbsp each morning to help warm me up and rev the immune system, or 3 tbsp if I feel the sniffles coming on.
Time to make the Fire Cider!
1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root
1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root
1 medium organic onion, chopped
10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed or chopped
2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped
Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon
Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary or 2 tbsp of dried rosemary leaves
1 tbsp organic turmeric powder
organic apple cider vinegar
raw local honey to taste
Prepare all of your cold-fighting roots, fruits, and herbs and place them in a quart sized jar. If you’ve never grated fresh horseradish, be prepared for a powerful sinus opening experience! Use a piece of natural parchment paper or wax paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal. Shake well! Store in a dark, cool place for one month and remember to shake daily.
After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid goodness as you can from the pulp while straining. Next, comes the honey! Add 1/4 cup of honey and stir until incorporated. Taste your cider and add another 1/4 cup until you reach the desired sweetness.
These herbs and spices would make a wonderful addition to your Fire Cider creations: Thyme, Cayenne, Rosehips, Ginseng, Orange, Grapefruit, Schizandra berries, Astragalus, Parsley, Burdock, Oregano, Peppercorns
Here’s another version of Fire Cider by the always inspiring Rosemary Gladstar…
~ ErinFor educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.
Posted by|26 October 2012
Some of my favorite oils are created from the Citrus aurantium or Bitter Orange tree.
Three different oils are distilled and expressed from this wonderful botanical, and all three have distinctive aromas. This interesting tid-bit raises the importance of knowing not only the Latin binomial of the oil you are purchasing, but also the plant part being distilled.
In the case of Citrus aurantium, the fruit peel is expressed to create Bitter Orange essential oil, the flowers are distilled to create Neroli or Orange Blossom essential oil, and the leaves and twigs are distilled to create Petitgrain essential oil.
Bitter Orange: The properties and aroma of this essential oil are very similar to Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil, and makes a lovely substitute for any recipe that calls for Sweet Orange oil. The aroma of bitter orange has a dry citrus note in comparison to the sweet citrus of the sinensis oil. Citrus peel oils are very useful around the house for their disinfecting properties, and make a sunny addition to room sprays and cleaners.
Neroli: This is one of my favorite oils for its dry, spicy, floral aroma, but it is also very expensive. It takes around 100 pounds of flowers to distill just 1 pound of oil. Luckily you don’t need much to appreciate its beautiful fragrance. Neroli is unique in that it can be used as both a top note when blended with other floral oils or a base note when blended with other citrus oils.
Petitgrain: From the leaves and twigs of the tree comes this light, woody, and spicy oil that has just a hint of citrus. Mostly used in the fragrance industry, this oil also has many beneficial properties for skin and haircare products including antiseptic and deodorant actions.
Try one or compare all three! They will be a spectacular addition to your essential oil collection.
Posted by|25 October 2012
Posted by|24 October 2012
We are quickly approaching the historic November ballot measure Prop. 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) which requires clear labeling and will help consumers make educated choices about what they are eating. Now is the time to act!
If you live in California, please remember to vote YES on Prop. 37 on November 6th 2012.
The Right to Know ballot initiative calls for mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods and would reject the vague, misleading term “natural” which has been co-opted by mega agri-food corporations who peddle products that are anything but natural. This is an important issue for more than just Californians because the vote will set a precedent for the rest of the country.
Let’s propel our food industry in the right direction. In a grassroots effort, millions of pro-organic consumers, farmers, and businesses are standing together to defeat agribusiness/biotechnology giants. The undeniable truth is that we have the right to know what’s in our food. What are big agribusinesses hiding anyway?
Vote with your dollar and boycott businesses that use GMOs and oppose this legislation. These corporations have contributed over 35 million dollars to campaign propaganda in opposition of Prop. 37 – and Monsanto is leading the pack with a 7 million dollar chunk of change. These companies operate with no moral code or vision of a sustainable future.
Since 1999, Mountain Rose Herbs has taken a strong stance in favor of labeling GMO foods and supporting organic agriculture. We take pride in walking the walk, having contributed to the campaign and will continue to support a consumer’s right to know what they are putting into their bodies. You are what you eat!
No matter where you are in the state or the country, you can be part of this historic campaign by volunteering today. There are so many ways to help – from inviting your friends to join us, hosting a house party, spreading the word in your community, making phone calls, sending emails and more.
Posted by|23 October 2012
Elvira Guelzow, our world traveling International Farms Manager, crosses oceans and continents each year to meet with our organic herb farmers and tour their processing facilities. Here are some stories and photos from her exciting trip last month to Hungary and Bulgaria!
This summer I had to exchange my expired passport for a brand new book, and took the occasion to initiate it with a trip abroad. The friendly Eugene airport security lady sent me off with these words, “You put this new passport to good use and go someplace great,” …and I did! I went to Hungary and to Bulgaria to visit with Mountain Rose Herbs’ medicinal herb farms and essential oil distillers.
Here is my report from the beautiful country – Hungary!
Hungary is located in Central Europe and is blessed with an ideal growing climate due to its special geographical location. The terrain ranges from flat to gently rolling hills, and is nestled in the Carpathian Basin, which provides shelter from extreme weather. The Danube and Tisza rivers divide the country into three different climate regions: Continental to the north, Atlantic to the west, and Mediterranean to the south. Spring typically provides ample rainfall in good years, summers are warm, autumn is mild, and winters are cold.
Hungary is a landlocked country and is bordered by Austria to the west, Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the southeast, and Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia to the south. Hungary’s 11 National parks contain a plethora of protected animal and plant species. The country is also blessed with many mineral springs whose thermal waters are utilized in bathhouses and spas.
The Hungarian language is unique and complex and has Siberian and Finno-Ugric roots. It is not related to any of the Indo-European languages. Hungary did adopt the Latin alphabet in the year 1000, and nowadays travelers are able to communicate in English or German with many Hungarians. This is perfect, since I speak both languages!
The Hungarian cuisine is rich, aromatic, and delicious. Common meats are pork, beef, venison, and fowl, such as chickens, goose, and ducks. Carp is a fish staple on menus. Hungary produces excellent wines in its own vineyards. It is common to greet guests with a glass of ice cold Palinka, which is a tasty brandy distilled from a variety of fruit, such as apricot, pear, cherry, apple, plum, and grape. Fruit and vegetable offerings are plentiful throughout the season.
During the trip, I checked on our current herb orders, which have been harvested, dried, processed and bagged over the season, and are about to be shipped to America. I also toured the general herb processing facilities and I visited several of our essential oil distilleries, where I learned about the highly complicated process of essential oil distillation. All of our suppliers employ Essential Oil Engineers as production supervisors, to ensure that only the highest quality essential oil is being produced. These are graduates from prestigious universities in their regions, which offer specialized degrees for commercial essential oil production.
We procure many important herbs and essential oils from this special growing area. Hungarian staples in my own herb pantry are Nettle leaf, Horsetail, Meadowsweet flowers, Comfrey leaf and root, Goldenrod, and Blackberry leaf. Our Agrimony, Buckthorn Bark, Celandine, Centaury, Cleavers, Horse Chestnut, Shepherd’s Purse, and Tansy are of Hungarian origin as well.
My favorites from our Hungarian essential oil selection include apple scented Roman Chamomile, Hops, and Angelica root. Caraway, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley seed, and Tarragon all come from our Hungarian essential oil distilling partners.
Stories and photos from my trip to Bulgaria coming soon!
Posted by|22 October 2012
Growing your own “baby plant garden” is easy and provides a wealth of concentrated nutrients – something we can all use when the weather turns chilly! Sprouts have been grown by civilizations around the world for more than 5,000 years. Considered “super foods” today for their dense nutrient content, sprouts are really easy to grow and quite economical; one pound of sprouting seed can generate about five pounds of sprouts!
I love to watch these little seeds push out their twisty green cotyledons and sprout into tasty microgreens. There’s deep satisfaction in knowing that my sprouts are freshly homegrown with love and free of pesticides or more plastic waste from the grocery store. Sprouting at home can be done all year long, with just a few jars, sprouting screen or cheesecloth, and a nice spot on the counter with indirect sunlight. There are some wonderful tools out there like the Sprouting Kit and Sprouting Bag you might want to check out too.
The sprouting seeds . . .
Red Clover is one of the most common sprouts commercially available in grocery stores. It’s very similar to the timeless Alfalfa and almost identical in flavor – sweet, nutty, and mild, but a bit easier to grow, and with a lighter green leaf.
Of course, Alfalfa is an excellent sprout to try as well. Alfalfa is by far the most famous sprout in the US and contains more chlorophyll than spinach! Alfalfa sprouts have a mildly nutty flavor and a crispy texture.
If you’re a beginning sprouter, start with the tried-and-true Red Lentil. Lentils are among some of the easiest seeds to sprout and just a few tablespoons will fill a quart jar in just 3-4 days. Red lentil sprouts make a great addition to all kinds of recipes from sandwiches to hummus, even pesto! They add a little extra culinary flair and a big protein boost.
Another favorite sprouting seed is Fenugreek. Some people like to drink the bitter fenugreek seed soaking water to aid digestion and detoxification. Once sprouted, the bitter fenugreek seeds develop a pleasant, subtle, and sweet taste. The sprouts are delicious when still young and tender – around 4 to 6 days, and then turn bitter as they grow larger. Fenugreek is great on sandwiches, in sushi, or sautéed with garlic cloves and butter and served with veggies and rice.
Buckwheat is a fast seed to sprout, but it’s also one of the most difficult to grow. Its flavor is delicate and delicious, and it’s a good source of vitamins A, B, C, and E, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Niacin, and Potassium.
Radish sprouts are quite spicy and make an excellent choice to liven up a salad, sandwich, or even tacos. They contain a considerable amount of protein, calcium, and Vitamin C. They are a great addition to coleslaw, omelettes, and stir-fries.
Broccoli sprouts are a source of Vitamin A, selenium, and beta-carotene. They also contain powerful antioxidants found in many cruciferous plants, but at a much higher concentration in these baby broccoli plants. You can add broccoli sprouts to salads, soups, pizza, wraps, and practically anything for added flavor and texture, or you can enjoy them all by themselves with a bit of dressing.
Time to get sprouting . . .
Given the proper moisture, a seed will germinate. Rinsing is essentially a two-step process of rinsing and draining. Regular rinsing will add moisture to the sprouts while draining regulates the amount of moisture sprouts have available until their next rinse. Rinse 2-3 times each day, using lots of cool water (60-70°). After this step, it is crucial to drain as much water as you can from your sprouter for proper germination. Sprouting seeds sitting in too much water is the most common cause of sprouting failure! This process will work well for almost every seed, although some super mucilaginous seeds like Chia require a different method to sprout.
Step 1 – Add 3 tablespoons of sprouting seed to your clean quart jar.
Step 2 – Fill the jar with cold water and stir to ensure that each seed is soaking, not just floating.
Step 3 – Allow the seeds to soak overnight.
Step 4 – Attach your sprouting screen to the jar lid and drain as much water as possible. Rinse in cool water again and drain well.
Step 5 – Place the jar upside down in a bowl, resting the jar at a diagonal so the seeds stay relatively spread out in the jar but can continue to drain. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight.
Step 6 - Rinse and drain your seeds thoroughly twice a day for 5-6 days. I like to rinse when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night.
Step 7 – For your final rinse, fill the jar with cold water and allow the seed hulls (if any) to float to the top. Scoop the hulls off the surface and compost. You can pour the sprouts and water into another bowl and gently tease the little sprouts apart with your fingers. Skim any additional hulls that float to the top. Drain, rinse, and drain again thoroughly. Use a salad spinner or cloth towel to remove any excess moisture. You can also let the sprouts drain upside down in the jar for another 8 hours.
Step 8 – Once your sprouts are mostly dry they are ready to refrigerate. You can keep them in a closed jar or sealed plastic bag.
1. Good air circulation is very important while sprouting!
2. Drain the water very well each time you rinse! Sitting water will lead to failed sprouts or mold growth.
3. You don’t need bright sunlight or much light at all for that matter until the cotyledons (first leaves) appear. Direct sunlight can fry your little sprouts, so any indirect light will work just fine.
4. Sprout at a room temperature around 70 degrees if possible.
5. Don’t refrigerate very wet sprouts. This will lead to sogginess and lessened freshness.
Sprouting times vary for each seed. Below is a list of some of the most common sprouting seeds and the typical amount of time until you’re eating yummy sprouts. Of course, tasting along the way will help you determine when your sprouts taste best.
For more information about sprouting seeds, watch our video lesson on YouTube!
Posted by|19 October 2012
We are excited to bring you these natural Clean Air Room Sprays from our friends at Way Out Wax!
This powerful mist electrostatically attaches to odor particles and neutralizes them, rather than just covering them up, making a wonderful natural alternative to some of the harsher room sprays available on the market that are filled with synthetic fragrances that wreak havoc on our respiratory systems. Each spray above contains a proprietary blend of over 30 natural plant extracts and botanical oils including lavender, citrus oils, and pine! Choose from two scents in a 4oz mister bottle:
Lavender Sky – Scented with refreshing lavender and lemon oils
Tropical Citrus - Scented with uplifting and cleansing citrus oils
These natural odor removing sprays are ideal for the kitchen, bathroom, living spaces, and more!
Posted by|18 October 2012
Check out this gorgeous marshmallow leaf grown by an organic farm in Eastern Europe!
Elvira, our adventuring International Farms Manager, just returned from a trip to Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria where she visited with several of our farmers and essential oil distilleries.
More photos and stories from Elvira’s travels will be posted soon!
Posted by|17 October 2012
We hope you’ve been enjoying the amazing kitchen remedy videos from the wonderful Rosemary Gladstar as much as we have this week! It’s been so inspiring to watch Rosemary create healing syrups, teas, and fire cider in her element at beautiful Sage Mountain – and we’re so excited to share more videos and recipes from the series with you!
When we first partnered with LearningHerbs and Rosemary to create this first time ever collection, we knew it would be a true gift to herb lovers everywhere, but we didn’t know just how incredible it was going to turn out. After seeing Rosemary’s Remedies in full, our hearts swelled with joy.
We are so proud to offer this beautiful and educational series to you, filled with Rosemary’s deep wisdom, energizing spirit, favorite recipes, stories, and more, from her mountain home to yours.
Get all of Rosemary’s Remedies now!
Join us for 23 herbal kitchen remedies including medicinal, body care, nutritive culinary delights, plus garden tours, and more, all shared for the first time from Rosemary Gladstar’s home. This unique collection of recipes, traditions, and herbal knowledge will surely be cherished for decades to come.
The complete Rosemary’s Remedies video series will only be available for purchase until Oct. 20th through LearningHerbs, but you will have unlimited access to the website, all of the videos, recipe cards, and more if you sign up by Saturday.
Posted by|15 October 2012
Mason is our Events & Outreach Coordinator at Mountain Rose Herbs. Eugene born and raised, he found an early interest in nutrition which eventually brought him to the world of herbalism. Mason attends fun events in the community and brings back the stories so we can experience them too…
A few weeks ago I had the fortune of attending one of the classic herb gatherings of the Northwest, the Breitenbush Herbal Conference. Not only did Mountain Rose Herbs sponsor the event, we also had an info table complete with free herbal goodies and the popular tincture bar! It’s always great to connect with so many herb enthusiasts, and to get their feedback in person. I was accompanied by our Domestic Farms Representative, Mary Woodruff. She was great to have around because she’s tons of fun and super knowledgeable about our organic herbs, especially the locally grown ones.
This year was the 26th annual event, and the theme was Community Herbalism: Radical Roots and New Awakenings. Cascade Anderson Geller was our keynote speaker; she gave a wonderful and empowering speech to get the festivities started during the opening circle titled, All that Falls Shall Rise Again – Why Herb Folk Flourish in the 21st Century. She treated us to an entertaining, informative, and inspirational slideshow, and capped off the slideshow with pictures from the early days of the conference, showing Rosemary Gladstar, Christopher Hobbs, and Kathi Keville, among others. It was really interesting to see and hear how it all began, and it was an honor to be a part of such an amazing tradition.
Besides the opportunity to soak in some of the most beautiful hot springs I’ve ever visited, and being surrounded by the awesome natural beauty of the forest, the part of the conference I was really looking forward to was of course, the classes! Although it was difficult to decide, I had my entire schedule laid out before I even arrived.
The first class that I attended was the intensive, Recipes For Rebuilding: How to Combine the Powers of Live-Cultured Fermented Veggies and Herbal Medicine for Deep Healing, presented by the delightful Summer Bock. I’ve made sauerkraut a few times, but that’s the extent of my fermentation experience, so I benefited greatly from taking this course which covered using veggies and tonic herbs like nettles for a probiotic boost. Summer also gave us some delicious samples of her sauerkraut to try for ourselves. They were incredible! If you ever have an opportunity to take her class, do it!
What’s better than attending an herb walk by a renowned herbalist? How about two nontraditional herb walks with renowned herbalists? I was lucky enough to join two very unique herb walks during the conference. One was led by my fantastic instructor at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies, Howie Brounstein. The other was led by the humorous and insightful, Dr. Glen Nagel.
Howie’s herb walk was less focused on the plants (although they still played a large role), and more focused on how to actually give an herb walk. One tip I especially enjoyed from Howie is that if someone is discussing their favorite movie while you’re trying to give a detailed description of a particular plant’s habitat, say to them, “Oh, that’s very interesting about that movie; it kind of reminds me of this plant here, Monotropa uniflora!” Chances are Ghost Pipe has nothing to do with the movie, but it’s a light-hearted way to move the group’s attention back to the plants…
Glen’s herb walk was focused on the plants, however, the point of his walk was to discuss the non-medicinal uses of the plants. He showed us how to make fairy baskets with vine maple, horsetail flutes, and how to use the ever helpful pathfinder plant (can you guess how it’s used?). He also gave a demonstration on winnowing seeds, and making incense with mugwort.
The conference organizers this year were Cassandra Black and Sue Burns. Many, many thanks to them for creating such a memorable event. A lot of work goes into planning these conferences and they pulled it off superbly. If you haven’t been to this conference, I’d highly recommend it. The teachers are always cutting-edge, the food is homemade organic goodness, the tradition is strong, and it’s hard to beat the incredible beauty of Breitenbush Hotsprings. Plus, the Saturday night talent show is an absolute hoot!
Hope to see y’all next year!