Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Petals & Roots - Kids Herbal Club finale

We had four great weeks with a group of kids here, exploring the world of herbs, herbal remedy making, and harvesting wild foods as part of our first Petals & Roots Kids Herbal Club.  During this series the kids learned about safely identifying herbs (by using our senses, stalk shape, leaf pattern, flower, etc), how to carefully and respectfully harvest herbs, and how to store and dry them, how to incorporate wild herbs into our meals, and how to make a few basic remedies. 

We packed the days with hands-on activities, including harvesting the particular plants we were talking about.  We made green smoothies with dandelion, cold frescas with mint, steeped sun tea with lemon balm, sketched plants in our journals, transplanted herbs into pots to take home, had a herbal scavenger hunt, built simple plant presses that fit in a backpack, and made an all purpose healing salve with plantain.  Hopefully this series sparked a continuing interest in the wonderful green world for these kids, an understanding that these wise and useful plants are all around us and we simply need to pay attention, learn and practice.  It was amazing how simply sitting with the plants (while sketching, or harvesting) was a special part of each week.  We don't slow down and do that often enough.

Here are a few photos of the creations from our last day together - edible flower cupcakes, topped with an assortment of edible herbs and flowers from the Little City Farm garden (we did a little tour around the garden and found 20 types flowers that were ready for eating today, including: dandelion, sage, lavender, chive, calendula, marigold, thyme, kale, fennel, clover, violets, heartsease, and rose petals!).  What a lot of beautiful creations (and adventurous eaters!), and a nice reminder of the vibrancy, joy and colour that herbs can bring to our life through our food (food as medicine). 

We hope to offer this Petals & Roots Kids herbal series again in the fall, focusing on herbal roots, seed saving, and other fall-related herbal projects.

Around the homestead in mid-June

Friday, June 10, 2016

Infused water - easiest herbal summer drink!

Our new favourite drink, infused water!  So simple, so beautiful, so refreshing.  Perfect for summer drinks, to share at your next potluck dinner or outdoor summer feast.

Simple fill a clear bottle or mason jar with fresh cool filtered water.  Add some sliced fruit, a few fresh berries, or sliced cucumbers, top with a few sprigs of herbs and/or edible flowers.  Shake very gently.  Let infuse for at least 30 min.  Then enjoy.  Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Combinations we love (use what berries & herbs are in season in your garden):
  • grapefruit-mint
  • orange-cucumber-mint
  • basil-strawberry
  • lime-rosemary
  • raspberry-rose petal
  • blackberry-fennel
  • lemon-blueberry
  • strawberry-mint 
  • peach-lavender

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Preserve - Newest Issue of Taproot Magazine

If you have not yet found Taproot Magazine, it's time to check it out!  Focusing on gardening, farming, making, cooking, dreaming, with outstanding artwork, photography, essays and poetry, recipes & lots of DIY projects, this magazine has it all.

Each time a new issue arrives in our mailbox (yes, a real paper copy magazine to read with cup of tea in hand) my 8 year old daughter and I wrestle to see who gets to flip through it first.  She looks for the paper dolls, colouring pages, farm animal photography.  I admire the artwork, food photography, latest recipes and stories.  My husband admits he eventually makes his way through all the articles and stories too (even if it does give him pangs for a larger farm, some day).  But the magazine makes us feel connected to a larger community worldwide of those trying to live honest, simple, handmade, heart-filled lives.  We feel renewed in our efforts here on our little urban homestead to keep mending, baking, fermenting, unschooling, gardening, wild-harvesting, healing, and so forth - adding new insights and inspiration to what we already do in our day to day life.

In the current issue, check out our article - Homegrown Sprouts!  You'll learn how to grow sprouts at home, and get recipes for super sprout salad, and morning greens smoothie, plus learn a little more about how and why we love to sprout.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Radish harvest

Yum!  One of the first harvests from seed planted this spring - radishes!  Love having loads of veggies that kids can just nibble fresh right out of the garden, with dirt still clinging onto them. 

By the way, did you know dirt makes you smarter? Here are some articles that describe why we should be not only eating a little more dirt clinging to our veggies, but also spending time outside with our hands in the soil breathing in fresh air (and soil bacteria).  Dirt makes us smarter, happier, healthier...research shows there is beneficial bacteria in the soil that lowers depression, diversifies our gut bacteria to make us healthier and happier.

From This Book Was A Tree, why dirt makes you smarter...
Can dirt make us smarter?
And another article here on why dirt makes us smarter...

Bean biodiversity project

We received this great "bean biodiversity" kit in the mail from USC-Canada, a non-profit organization promoting food security and seed saving (not only in Canada, but around the world).  They have some amazing projects going on, lots of useful information, and resources for educators (useful for home educators too) including this bean growing kit with 15 kinds of beans (some of which were near extinction and have been revived by seed savers in Canada).  Very cool project to take on with our 8 year old daughter!  The kit comes with info about each seed, and ways to share the stories of these diverse seeds, so we can all learn why it's so important for us to help grow, save and share the seeds. 

Here at home we are planning to plant a few varieties to save this year - I read that beans need an average of 10-20 feet distance between varieties so that they don't risk cross-pollinating.  Some growers do grow beans successfully without cross-pollination, but it depends on number and variety of pollinators in the area.  We don't have the space to grow all these varieties, but will grow some this year and some next.  And did I mention how beautiful these beans are - we especially love the Orca Beans, Sadie's Horse Beans, Tiger's Eye, Annie Jackson Bean, and the Candy Beans.  Take a look below!


Early June garden blossoms!

It seems like blossoms are ahead this year - it has been so hot and dry, and everything has leaped ahead with some plants already bolting (like spinach).  I am loving the blossoms everywhere, and although our early lilac, forsythia, apple, mulberry, cherry and currant blossoms are already done, there are still plenty more!  I spent a morning searching out all the other blossoms in the garden.  Here are a few of the early June blossoms I spotted - blossoms are so hopeful, in that they show us the potential for providing us with veggies, berries, fruit, herbs and medicine in the coming weeks and months...(thank you pollinators).