Thursday, November 11, 2010

CSA Potluck at Autumn Blend Organics

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, the coop we are a farmer member of hosts many CSA potlucks throughout the growing season. It is a time when the farmers and their families gather with all the CSA members  and  share dishes they cook from the abundance of amazing produce grown by the 75 farmers in the coop. At a LFFC potluck it is typical to be held on an Amish farm where there are fun activities going on like hay rides, corner ball games and walking tours. This particular gathering was really special to us since a bus load of folks came down from Harlem, NY who started a CSA site for creating access to organic farm fresh food. their blog is A number of their folks were part of our CSM and it was so great to meet everyone in person. We heard so much positive feedback about the herbs they have been learning about from us and told us stories about how they were integrating natural health into their lives.

 Harvest from Autumn Blend Organics

We had a the best time meeting some of our Community Supported Medicine
Share members who came all the way from Harlem to visit.
Carrie, Chandra, Sojourner, Casey and Eli

Foraging and Processing

Praying Mantis living it up on fall nettles
Chicken of the Woods

Casey holding the Paw Paw bootie

Autumn Olives, better than Gogi berry juice any day!

Anise Hyssop, Lemon BeeBalm, White Sage

We can't get enough of this magical fluff!

Harvesting our Speckled Hounds

Monday, October 11, 2010

Join us for our Fall Workshop Series 10/23 -10/24!

Fall Workshop Series
by Lancaster Farmacy
part of the Lancaster Skill Share Collective Weekend

Saturday 10/23
Fall Natural Health Care
11am Come learn to prepare your medicine cabinet for the cold season. We will discuss fall medicinal plants and share how to make a root tonic. 

The Art of Fire by Friction 
12:30pm Rediscover a forgotten skill from our past and reclaim the ability to create a fire from natural materials. 

Ways of a Gatherer
2pm Wild nut harvesting/processing. Taste the delicious and nutrient filled food of the forest, Hickory Nuts! We will share how to harvest and process foraged nuts into a nourishing nut milk over our fire from the previous workshop.

Sunday 10/24
Garlic Planting!!
12-3pm Join Lancaster Farmacy in a community workday of planting this medicinal food, garlic. Get hands on experience on a certified organic farm. 

All free, donations welcomed

All workshops located at our farm at 1075 Gypsy Hill Road
From county park, head down Gypsy Hill Road, look on left for old stone wall. Left turn into hidden land in the wall. (Before the bridge and across from Esther's yellow house) Continue up land and look to left for Lancaster Farmacy. 

Open to the public for workshops only
Lancaster Farmacy is a new organic herb farm part of Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Elderberries and butterflies

Elderberries! Fully ripe and ready to harvest. It is a true sign of late summer when it is elderberry time.  We gathered these to store as well as make a special syrup for keeping away any winter colds. It is been used by many generations as a folk remedy and we both love it. Another great attribute of this plant/shrub is that it is native to us and grows wild in the right settings. Meadows, damp areas with lots of sun. In the early spring you can collect the the flowers which are great for fevers.  Casey is in waist deep gathering the tiny little berries. The goldenrod was just starting to bloom, making it an especailly bright day to harvest. The funny part was that we were feeling like we needed to get back to the farm to get more work done and convinced ourselves we needed some more wild time in the woods. As we drove through this open area we discovered the elder ready to be harvested. It was quiet a productive afternoon!

We are honored to have these wonderful monarch catepillars munch their ways on our milkweed plants. A few weeks later we were watching them pollinate all the beautiful flowers blooming on the farm. There have been thousands of butterflies, bees, birds and more insects visit us and it is magical to be surrounded by them all and the powerful plants we have grown.

CSM share of Lemon Bee Balm, Calendula, and Catnip

Week Two CSM Share

It was fall of last year when Eli and I first came up with this whole idea of CSM and Lancaster Farmacy. It was at that time we were foraging for wild foods such as hickory nuts, butternuts, mushrooms, burdock root, spicebush berries, pawpaws and many more wonderful edibles from natures garden. We would spend many nights under the moon planning this endeavor. Owls were commonly heard hooting off in the distance as we excitedly came up with new ideas. One of the many things we enjoy is discovering and identifying the flora and fauna Mother Nature has to offer. On a very chilly late afternoon in December, we decided that we were going to identify winter wildflowers. This means mostly dried flowers that had bloomed their wonderful blossoms earlier and shot up varied seed heads that were held tightly in their brown capsules. There were many dried plants we identified. Many asters, two types of goldenrod, milkweed and dogbane, joe pye weed, ironweed and then one we got really excited about. There was a very tall lone flower that floated with the gentle breeze. This dried brown creation was held in place by its tight root system and teetered back and fourth as we started to identify it. “Hmmm” I said as Eli looked it over. We both noticed its very prominent cube like stem. This is one of the key characteristics for plants in the mint family. So another identifying feature for plants in the mint family is that usually they are very fragrant. Now this plant has been brown and dry for quite some time. We broke off the thimble shaped seed head and crushed it in our cold gloveless hands and to our surprise we smelled a fragrant minty smell in the air. Looking in a few of our field guides we discovered that this tall majestic plant is Wild Bergamont. We knew right then that we wanted to grow many types of this mint. We have seen its close relative Bee Balm in the wild and also love Earl Grey Tea from which this is one of the main ingredients.

Lemon Bee Balm:
(Monarda Citriodora)
We are growing over 4 varieties of bee balm and bergamont. We have included in your share this week a variety known as Lemon Bee Balm. Most members of the mint family have tiny hidden flowers, not bee balm… these flowers are very large and colorful wanting to attract the attention of hummingbirds and humans. Like the various mints that they are related to bee balm is used as a flavoring in food. There are many uses for this showy plant. The leaves and young plants were added to cold drinks, salads and made into jellies. Native Americans drank a tea made from the plant for headaches, sore throats and to treat chills and fevers. The crushed leaves were used to help reduce the pain and irritation of insect bites. The small tender leaves were also used to treat acne. Make your own Earl Grey by making some black tea and adding some lemon bee balm leaves or flowers to it. As with other members of the mint family this plant will help relieve stomach aches and is also good as a toothache and headache remedy.

To make tea:
Pour 6 cups of boiled water on about ½ bunch of fresh herbs, cover with lid, let stand for about 15 minutes, cool, strain, sweeten to your preference and drink. Adjust to your liking for strength by adding more water or more herbs.


Comments from Lancaster Farmacy:
Many people tell us that they feel intimated by using herbs and don’t know where to begin. This is one of the many reasons why we wanted to start our CSM, to have a chance to experience herbs first hand and read the information provided about the many actions they have. Drinking several cups of tea will not affect you in an adverse way, but more give your taste buds and body a chance to become familiar to the herbs. If you want to treat symptoms you may have, we would advise you to use the herbs that apply to you more regularly by making a tea to drink 3 cups a day from or in a tincture form.

(Calendula Officinalis)
Calendula has many uses. Many studies have shown Calendula to have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Medicinally the flowers have been used to treat anything from scorpion bites to toothaches. It is used in many oral products like mouthwashes since it helps cure ulcers and gum issues. Tinctures of calendula flowers have been recommended in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments including cramps and stomachaches. Calendula increase urination, aids digestion and acts as a general tonic.
We are sending these fresh flowers to be enjoyed as an edible. Remember food is medicine. You can also dry them and use them for broths, tinctures or oils at a later time.  We will be offering some of these items in later shares.
Here is a recipe that we came up with for a recent story about Lancaster Farmacy in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Calendula Flower Gazpacho
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
4 large heirloom tomatoes, preferably Cherokee purple, roughly chopped
1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery rib, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 sweet candy onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh calendula petals
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt to taste
Pinch of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
Combine all ingredients except parsley and basil in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir in herbs, refrigerate until cool, and serve
- Courtesy of Lancaster Farmacy
Per serving (based on 6): 47 calories, 2 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams sugar, trace fat, no cholesterol, 21 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Catnip: (Nepeta Cataria)                  Most people automatically assume that Catnip is just for cats. Cats do love this plant. Some cats will bite, play, chew, or even roll all over the plant “going crazy” for it.
Most often referred to as "catmint" in Europe, the hardy perennial herb grows wild in Europe and the northern Mediterranean area. It was introduced to North America by early settlers who brought this valuable medicinal herb along with them as a part of their natural pharmacy. Since it spreads and propagates so readily, it is now growing wild throughout much of the northern hemisphere. Catnip is considered one of the oldest household remedies.

Catnip makes a soothing tea which is mild enough to give to small children.  In many cultures, it is thought to purify the blood, but it also has definite merit when used for its calming and sedative effects, both in adults and in small children.  Taken alone in a tea or combined with other herbs such as chamomile, skullcap, and/or lavender a half hour to one hour before bedtime will result in a natural drowsiness to promote a restful sleep. During times of stress or anxiety, the calmative properties of a cup of catnip tea will reduce tension that can lead to headaches and other negative physical responses.
Catnip is used for toothache relief by chewing a few leaves.  Herbal teas containing catnip can be helpful in treating or preventing muscle cramps due to its antispasmodic properties. For women it is helpful with menstrual cramps. For any type of cramping, it is most effective when combined with other herbs such as chamomile, red raspberry leaf, ginger root, or cinnamon. It has mild diuretic properties that help to reduce fluid retention.
The oils in Catnip are very volatile, so when you steep it make sure to cover the tea with some sort of lid to keep the medicinal effects intact longer.
Catnip is also used for enemas and is a quick way to get the herb in your system to reduce fevers and headaches.
To make Catnip tea:
(See directions above for making tea under Lemon Bee Balm)
Note: Your herbs are fresh like produce so they want to be refrigerated. If you do not see yourself trying them within a few days, you can dry them for later use by hanging them in a dark, warm, dry place. A brown paper bag or glass container is a great way to store your herbs once dried. 
*Products in your CSM have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

If you want to access more of these herbs, you can buy them on the Four Season Harvest Buying Club Program on the Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop’s website:

check out our site:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Medicinal Plant Skill Share Workshop

Walking through the beds at Lancaster Farmacy. Plants in picture foreground are Bonset, a powerful cure all herb that people have used for centuries. It was typically found hanging in the rafters of most homes. It is used to delay the onset of flu or fever, taking the ache out of the bones, hence the name. It is also used for healing broken bones, making them stronger. It has a very bitter taste but that means it is a strong and powerful healer. We recently found some while swimming by a lake in the wild and have been since seeing it in many meadows and marsh like areas. It is ready to be harvested in this picture, right before the flowers fully open.
This was the second workshop we did as part of the Lancaster Skill Share Collective but was the first time we held a workshop on the farm and we really enjoyed sharing the abundance of plants and pollinators that surround us. We shared the knowledge we each had about the plants, how they grow and their uses. After walking through our herb beds, we gathered under the canopy tent (it was 100+ degrees!) and shared iced moon tea we made of Blue Hyssop, Lemon Bee Balm and Lemon Balm. Everyone shared their stories of healing in their lives and we all walked away with more understanding of ways to take care of the land and our communities.

Week One CSM Shares

Week One of our Community Supported Medicine share consisted of fresh bunches of Lemon Balm, Holy Basil (Tulsi) and Chickweed Salve we made. We have been working up to our CSM program since we started planning Lancaster Farmacy last fall. From seed, to planting, to tending and now to harvesting and preparing products. We typically harvest at dawn, dusk and even at night with headlamps to make sure these herbs are at their peak of freshness and medicinal potency. Shares include 2-3 items of fresh or dried plants and at times a prepared product made from our harvests. Being part of Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative has helped us reach people within 150 mile radius to us and we enjoy sharing what we grow.

Fire by friction

The first hiking trip Casey and I ever took was in Northern Pennsylvania. He brought along a bow drill kit and encouraged me to attempt to make fire by friction. I had tried once many years ago but quickly gave up at the time. Each time we set up camp I made many more attempts to get it but never did. I began to feel discouraged about the possibility of being able to ever get it.  My goal was to get it for my 30th birthday gathering and it only took the weekend after at the same spot we had the fire where many good people from different eras of my life came together.

Maintaining concentration and patience to blow softly but not too hard to keep the ember alive...

and then eli finally got her fire!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Where to begin? Our plan from the beginning was to have TONS of calendula. We wanted to plant a huge strip of calendula 4 feet wide by 300 feet long. Our hopes were to have this beautiful orange marigold exploding its beautiful bright orange rays of petals across our farm. We planted sooo many at first because we were a little unsure about the germination rate and this being our first time at a larger scale than what we were used to we wanted to make sure we had enough of this “orange sunlight”. We ended up having plenty. We decided to do some companion planting and added them in between the rows of ground cherries and the few heirloom tomatoes we are growing. They seem to be doing great. 

Calendula has many uses. Medicinally the flowers have been used to treat anything from scorpion bites to toothaches. Tinctures of calendula flowers have been recommended in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments including cramps, toothaches, fever, flu, and stomachaches. The flowers are supposed to induce sweating in a fever, increase urination, aid digestion and act as a general tonic. Many Studies have shown Calendula to have anti – viral and anti-inflammatory properties.

To make an infusion pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoons of flowers and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes.

To make a calendula oil. Fill up a 1 quart container with fresh or dried calendula flowers. Slowly add olive oil until all flowers are covered under the oil. Leave this in a cool dark place for a few days shaking and opening up and smelling (to make sure oil didn’t go rancid) everyday. When ready use to sooth skin rashes and other skin ailments.

Heating up the oil and adding beeswax can be a wonderful way to create a healing skin salve that you can use for the whole family.

Heating up the oil and adding beeswax can be a wonderful way to create a healing skin salve that you can use for the whole family.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April spring encounters

The first foraging trip we took together was in the fall. Casey knew of a spot by the Susquehanna that I had never been to. We entered into the autumn beauty and walked along the path surrounded by paw paw trees. These native trees to our area are special for many reasons, the most selfish reason is eating their fruit! Paw paws taste in between a mango and a banana so all you regional local minded people, transition with these great native fruit. Since they are only out for a few weeks it was a lot of fun to go harvest together. Another great use of paw paw is their soft wood for making bow drill spindles. We also found hickory nuts, spicebush berries, and the first spotting of pine sap for both casey and me. This spring I was so excited to observe the early stages of the paw paw in these amazing flowers that remind me of orchids, tough yet so precise and unique, and they even have a sweet smell. ahhh paw paw. 

Since Casey is now famed for his morel foraging I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him hunting for these great wild fungi. This was one of my first sightings under the may apples. I was super excited, especially for eating them later that night.

eli finds her first ever and is pumped! 

Casey's harvest of poke and morels in his hand crafted 
tulip poplar bag
Wild Garlic, Milkweed shoots, and Evening Primrose Roots 

This was the day we planted 250 native trees in the meadow by the Little Beaver Creek in Strasburg, part of the Chesapeake Bay Water Restoration project for my dad's land.

Plant Identification Workshop

Lancaster Farmacy taught workshops at the Lancaster Skill Share weekend 4/21. One workshop was on making plant medicine and the other a plant identification walk at the county park. We were happy to see so many people come out for these. Families, young folks, old folks and all of us sharing knowledge we have learned about medicinal uses of plants. 

Holding up a dug up Spring Beauty Corm. Sweet smelling and tasty. 

eli talks about the history of Spicebush Tree. A native plant used for strong tea by native americans to our area. colonists used the spicebush treed in place of imported tea during the tea boycotts from England.
Wild Ginger 

Casey harvesting the root of Wild Ginger 

Early April

Seedlings making their way strong at Riverview Organics Greenhouse in this pic are Mullein, Boneset, Pennyroyal, Holy Basil, Lavender, Bee Balm and so many 1,000's more!

A lot of our mature seedlings went off to customers all over the region 

Special heirloom pea variety that Rayne is helping us to plant. 

The sleeping giants of the newly tilled pea patch that Cedes did all on her own!

Nettle harvest in the foreground of marsh marigold in flower. 

Virginia Bluebells fill the hillside overlooking the Susquehanna River at Shenks Ferry. Magical!

Blue Cohosh finally unfurled. This plant is a powerful womens healing herb used as a uterine tonic, an emmenagoge. Great for premenstrual syndrome. 

Below Casey digs for some fresh spring beauty or cutleaf toothwort corms or maybe some fresh poke. 
Cut Leaf ToothWort  - The corms kind of look like teeth. It is an edible that tastes like horseradish so you can make your own wild garnish!

Early Poke (above) - This tender green is delicious if cooked the right way. Boil in water 3x before sauteing and it is a wonderful alternative to asparagus from the woods.

Wild Leeks/Ramps - Just like an onion/leek soooooo good!

Wild Leeks/Ramps - Just like an onion/leek soooooo good!

Japanese Knotweed (below)-  A highly invasive plant and delicious to eat. You can do two good things at once, harvest and cook and help keep native plants from being taken over.

This fresh from the woods wild harvest dinner has a little bit all of all these things 
(accept the Slow Rise bread)

Tulip Poplar emerging... a sign of morels

The Red Buds blossoming....!