Self Reliance and Sustainable Medicine and Gratitude

“Emerging at the other end, we will not be the same as we were; we will have become more humble, more connected to the natural world, fitter, leaner more skilled and, ultimately wiser.”

Rob Hopkins, originator of the Transition Town Movement

Recently I got to thinking (again) about sustainability and ways of becoming more self reliant (next step chickens and beekeeping). Sticking point is still reliance on my vehicle!  This time I got to thinking about sustainable medicine, how so much as been said about growing/preserving your own food, eating local, seed saving, there has been less emphasis on locally grown/manufactured DIY medicine.  Thinking of your families health care as a skill that can be learnt as opposed to relying on professionals.  While we have talked about the benefit of using plants that are local and part of our home ecosystem, every step in the process of herbal medicine making from growing and gathering, to tincturing, to family care can be taken on as part of the family homestead whether urban or rural. It can is a project that the whole family can participate in, at the same time gaining skills in personal health promotion. Herbal medicines are not only a source for treating disease they are also a source for promoting health for your family and community health by reducing the number of trips to a family practice, travel time, energy consumption, pharmaceutical company support.


“Annually, about 7,000 children ages 11 and younger require a hospital emergency room visit because of an adverse reaction to one of these substances.” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


In solidarity with the sustainable farming movement, it is important that we begin to make local choices regarding our family health-care. Despite the cost, the commitment to grow or make our medicines or purchase locally and organically grown herbs is an investment in the health of the planet.  Remember Herbal medicine is the medicine if the People practical thrifty and fun, over 80% of the worlds population still uses herbs as their primary means of healthcare.

Here is where I see my role as a community herbalist to teach  people the art of herbal medicine, and to encourage the practice of community based herbalism. For this reason I am offering my new distance learning program at an affordable rate with the hope that families will jump on board and begin their journey to sustainable family health-care.

(Click on image for more details on the course)

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” ~Robin Williams


In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.

~Margaret Atwood


No matter how long the winter, Spring is sure to follow.  I noticed today on the first day of Spring 2011 that overnight the lilacs had formed buds, and the pussy willows burst forth… nothing makes me happier than the signs of spring. Did you all see the BIG full sap moon last night! WOW!

The Singer of Spring…

I woke up grumpy, the winter must go.

Then I saw a crocus push up through the snow.

And what is it making that crocus to rise?

The singer of spring has hollared–surprise.

(Sarah Pirtle, Pocketful of Wonder)


Just 4 hours south on Rosemont NJ, there is a world of (early) Spring.



Pussy Willows

Close your eyes

and do not peek

and I’ll rub Spring,

across your cheek-

smooth as satin,

soft and sleek-

close your eyes

and do not peek.

by Aileen Fisher

Its been a long cold lonely winter, Little darling

It feels like years since its been here

Here comes the sun,

Here comes the sun

It’s all right

(The Beatles)

This song has been heavily played recently, and loud!  as we prepare to welcome the sun back! In the meantime we plant Spring bulb into teacups! and pretend….while we wait for the snow to melt and the brown to turn to green.



Teach the children.  We don’t matter so much, but the children do.  Show them daisies and the pale hepatica.  Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen.  The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin-flowers.  And the frisky ones – inkberry, lamb’s-quarter, blueberries.  And the aromatic ones – rosemary, oregano.  Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school.  Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit.  Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.


~Mary Oliver



PS. A quick side comment is that we LOVE LOVE LOVE Sarah Pirtle’s Pocketful of Wonder. It is truly one of our family favorite CD’s. It is full of songs of wonder and possibility! If you have not heard it order it from you library and I guarantee you will be buying it! Oh and it comes with a PDF booklet with a ton of fun educational activities that can be done in relation with the songs and stories about how the songs came to be!





Back in time…

I was recently been thinking back about a great weekend spent up at Woodland Essence (about 4 years ago!) a week-end full of good friends, an amazing project, great teachers (Kate Gilday and Don Babineau) and good food!

The project  Ashbark Basket making, I had long appreciated the beautiful baskets Kate and Don made. It was a fabulous weekend and though Zoe was only 3 1/3 she found away to participate and made her own basket.

We made great baskets! We laughed hard but the part that I have been remembering is the fact that it was our introduction to the inkle loom

Here is Kate weaving a strap to a backpack basket on her loom

That brings us to now,  at school Zoe has learnt to weave on a inkle loom, she made a belt, and for weeks talked about the inkle loom how she couldn’t wait to have a turn again. I think they have 4 inkle looms (and a variety of others) in the classroom. Recently we were able to borrow one from a friend and an “inklette”. A quick trip to Webs (a dangerous place, they don’t call it America’s Yarn Store for nothin’!) for some yarn.  Her teacher was kind enough to teach me how to warp it and TADA!

We have been weaving and thinking up projects ever since…..bookmarks, belts, hairbands, trim for jeans….We both love it!

Here is the original link about Ashbark basket making on my old blog The Herbal Way (you’ll find more details on the basket making. Scroll down until you find it.

Here is another picture from that weekend 4 years ago. Pat keep going! working hard so that we can get back to Woodland Essence for another fun adventure! I know you can do it!