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.