Saturday, June 25, 2016

Practical Herbalist series - session 1

The first of this season's 4-part Practical Herbalist workshop series brought 14 eager participants to us today.  Over the course of 4 months (June-Sept) we are meeting one Saturday morning per month as a group. 

The goals are to provide hands-on practical experience in herbal medicine making, including harvesting and using leaves, berries, flowers, roots, bark, seeds (each as they come into their prime in the Little City Farm garden); wild-harvesting plants with the emphasis on local nutrient-dense "superfood" wild plants to be used as both food and medicine; and also helping each participant to develop a deeper relationship to medicinal plants while learning in the simpler tradition (i.e. building a relationship with plants that is hands-on, locally focused, creating simple remedies made by hand together). 

There is "homework" to be done each month between get-togethers, so that participants have the chance to practice what was talked about during the session; and also herb journals/or herbariums to work on - we will be covering 22 locally available plants so the hope is that each participant will have a good working knowledge of how to best prepare these plants for use, and how to use safely and effectively in their home for first aid and general minor ailments. 

It's a lot to pack into four short sessions, but with the month time between each workshop the participants can work as extensively as they are interested or able, to further their knowledge as we go along.  My role is facilitator and guide, helping as they develop their own personal path for herbalism.  I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a wonderful and interesting group of participants in this way over the summer.

Today we worked with peppermint, lemon balm, nettle, red raspberry leaf, and plantain (Plantago major)- harvesting and processing these plants to make a plantain solar-infused oil; and a solar-infused sun tea (equal parts nettle, red rasp leaf, peppermint and lemon balm).  We also made a delicious nutrient-dense green smoothie with plantain, mint and lemon balm.  I especially love using locally wild-harvested herbs as food, (i.e. free "food as medicine").  Plantain is high in B vitamins, protein, Vit C and Vit K, and fatty acids.

Plantain Nutrient-Dense Green Smoothie
(adapted from a recipe by Rosemary Gladstar)

You will need:
2 cups pineapple or pear juice, organic and/or fresh
1 large handfuls of fresh plantain leaves *
small handful fresh peppermint leaves (a few sprigs)
small handful fresh lemon balm leaves (a few sprigs)
1 banana
3-4 icecubes
water to adjust consistency

* fresh plantain can be interchanged with other fresh nutrient-rich herbs like red clover, or red raspberry leaf

1) Blend everything in a blender until smooth.  Stir to mix in the foam which will form on top (delicious!).
2) Drink iced, immediately.
3) Very refreshing on a hot day!
4) Serves 6-8 people.

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