Saturday, September 27, 2014

Autumn Herbal Abundance for Community Health Projects!

As the seasons shift from summer to autumn, many feel our lives change in big and small ways.  Many of us get much more specific about temperatures (but it is going to dip down below 30° tonight or will it just be a light frost?!) and live amidst a harvest explosion - medicinal herbs hanging from drying racks and makeshift lines across the living room; filling all the Mason jars in the house with tinctures and elixirs and infused oils and vinegars and tomatoes and...; navigating around pots of basil and other frost-sensitive plants and baskets of herbs and vegetables and apples brought in from the cold.

There are many ways to preserve the harvest - canning and pickling and drying and fermenting and freezing.  We cannot possibly gather all the fruit and vegetables and herbs that grow both wild and in gardens this time of year.  We have to decide.  We have to let some things freeze, some things rot.  We have to let go.  And choose what we focus on.  Growing up in New England, I think it's in my bones to always be thinking about preserving food and medicine for the months when all is buried beneath ice and snow, or at least the cold.  It brings a great sense of security when the cupboards and fridge is full of food and when the apothecary is full of medicine.  And while this survival mode may be deep-rooted, so is the drive to share the harvest.  

This summer has been liberating - leaving flowers unharvested for the pollinators to enjoy.  Focusing on the remedies I love to make and share.  Making the medicines I love most for my loved ones, my business, and myself.  I also love to collaborate and make spontaneous medicine with others - creating blends that otherwise would not exist because of the people who come together and the ideas and medicinal plants and ingredients shared.  This makes 
strong medicine.  And an important part of making medicine as a community is to share the medicine with the community.  Making herbal remedies for community health projects helps support vital work that many grassroots organizations are doing both near and far.  I love to send remedies not only for those being served, but also the grassroots community organizers, herbalists, nurses, street medics, etc, that are giving care, to help sustain not only their work, but their physical and emotional health and the health of the collective.

Lately I've been focusing on making remedies to send to No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, a humanitarian aid organization providing food, water, and first aid care to those crossing the desert from Mexico into Arizona.  I made a soothing massage balm to promote restful sleep and protection from nightmares following traumatic events (ie detention, deportation).  I went to a local high school to make herbal lip balm with a student as part of their independent studies.  In the Community Self-Care: Nourishing our Nervous Systems for the Long Haul series we all made relaxing muscle rub to bring home, and a bunch more to send to NMD.  And next week, Sandra Lory of Mandala Botanicals and I are co-facilitating a No More Deaths Herbal Medicine-Making Session & Mapping our Ancestry Activity.  We’ll explore (im)migration, both past and present - including our own ancestries, through an engaging mapping activity. Then together we'll create an herbal salve/lip balm together for everyone to take home, as well as to send to No More Deaths/No Más Muertes.  For more info please see (Im)migration and Lip Balms for Social Justice?!  

With all these medicine-making sessions, the bundle of remedies to send to the desert is growing!  If you're interested in supporting herbal medicine-making for No More Deaths, but can't make it to the event, or you'd like to donare supplies (containers, infused oils, beeswax, essential oils, and others, or money to parchase them) please be in touch:  

Here are some images of lip balms, salves, tinctures, and teas sent to No More Deaths/No Más Muertes in the past.

Labels in English (same remedies with two labels)
Labels in Spanish (same remedies with two labels)

Next weekend, as we send off the remedies to send to the border, there will be a fabulous
Feel Good, Look Good Spaahh! : Remedios Fundraiser! 
Sat Oct 4th 11am-5pm (doors close at 4pm)  
Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism 252 Main St, Montpelier, Vermont  
Treat yourself in solidarity!   Support grassroot herbal remedies for the migrant farm worker community in VT. Come enjoy Massage, Footbaths, Tarot reading, Herbal Teas, Flower Essences, Cupping, Facials, and Haircuts!   Remedios VT is a solidarity-not-charity project getting seedlings and herbal remedies to members of the migrant farm worker community in VT. (Want to support Remedios, but can't join us for the event? You can contact/send a Paypal donation to: Thanks! Gracias! )  

Also, the Stone Cabin Collective is organizing their biannual free clinic for the community members at Black Mesa, resisting colonization, racismo, and forced relocation by the US government and Peabody Coal Co. (more info about the resistance here)  If you have the following dried herbs to donate, please contact: Danny at  Guidelines for donations (how to harvest/dry/package, etc) are listed here

Top needs (all as dried herbs):  *=chopped or powdered

American Ginseng, Ashwagandha*, Astragalus, Bilberry/blueberry lf and berry, Black Cohosh/Black haw/Crampbark/Wild yam, Calendula, Chamomile, Dandelion rt., Echinacea, Elecampane, Eleuthero*, Ginger chopped, Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, Hawthorn (berries, leaf and flower), Lemon balm, Licorice, Linden, Marshmallow root*, Meadowsweet, Milk thistle, Nettle, Oat tops, Oatstraw, Osha, Passionflower, Pedicularis, Reishi poder, Roses, Schizandra, Shatavari*, Skullcap, Turmeric, Violet

Additional Requests

Blue vervain, California poppy, Cardammom pods and powder, Catnip, Chaparral, Codonopsis, Comfrey rt, Corn silk, Corydalis, Damiana, Devil's Claw, Devil's Club, Eyebright, Fenugreek, Ginger poder, Hawthorn poder, Orange peel, Pleurisy root, Prickly ash, Red llover, Rehmannia, Rosemary, Self-heal, St. Johnswort, Stachys, White peony, Willow bark

Happy harvesting and medicine making!  And feel free to leave comments below about collaborations for herbal support of community health projects and grassroots community organizations!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Late Summer Dandelioness Herbals Community Health Update

Happy Late Summer!  I love this time of year, with all the abundant harvests of food and medicine.  Sorting through what we want to and can accomplish, and letting go of the rest.  Trusting that what we haven't harvested ourselves will be gathered by others in the community who we can trade with or buy from.  It feels like an exhale, especially once the first hard frosts arrives - what's done is done.

While the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, we may feel anxiety about moving  into the colder months.  With back to school time, autumn approaching, the leaves changing, moving into the time of honoring our ancestors, there's a lot of transition all around us.   And there are events in our communities and beyond to both celebrate and mourn.  The people of Palestine, communities of color in the US, and many other communities are under attack.  And all over the world people are organizing within their communities and beyond to work for justice.

Just today, allies across Vermont gathered names and went to local and state law enforcement to build on the work of those standing up in Ferguson, Missouri and the ongoing work of Migrant Justice and other grassroots organizations calling for police accountability and an end to racial profiling.

Movements for Justice and herbal remedies and education are completely interconnected and can deeply nourish each other.  This past week herbalists in C.VT sent herbal remedies to those participating in the Black Life Matters Ride.  As we harvest from garden plots, fields, and forests, may we share the abundance with community health projects/clinics and organizations near and far doing the day to day work to bring about true change in a sustainable way. 

 Donation from Central Vermont herbalists for the Black Life Matters Ride to Ferguson, MO. Black Lives Matter!

What's New & Save-The-Dates

-Community Self-Care: Nourishing our Nervous Systems for the Long Haul 

three-week work/play  Thurs evenings Sept 11th, 18th, 25th 5:30-8pm at the Fire Dept in Plainfield, VT. More info below. 

-Plainfield Farmers Market every Friday 4-7pm until Oct in the village.  More info here. Dandelioness Herbals vends most weeks, bringing herbal elixirs, salves, and some special treats not available on the online shop, such as aphrodisiacs, Kitties for Equality! catnip and valerian double trouble cat toys, and crocheted Roses.  Custom orders can be brought to market for pickup.

-Spa Fundraiser for Remedios   Sat Oct 4th 11-5pm, doors close at 4pm, Montpelier more info below

Dandelioness Herbals Blog

Check out my (Mis)Adventures in Container Gardening: Creative Growing & Herbal Disasters!

And it's that time of year again!  My friend from Wake Robin Botanicals and I just brewed up an amazing, spontaneous, nourishing syrup with roots & mushrooms & flowers & leaves.  Wanna make your own syrup for immune support, to build your iron, to get the tonic herbs
 you want to take daily?  Check out Elderberry (and other) Syrup Recipes

Dandelioness Herbals Facebook Page

With the gorgeous growing season in full-swing, I love to photograph medicinal plants - trees, herbs, flowers.  You can check out photos in these two new albums, which you don't have to be part of Facebooklandia to view!
In the Garden - I've been really noticing the admiring the pollinators this season...
Plant Besties - I love the plants that grow and thrive together as buddies!
Plant Walks! - Photos from plants walks out and about, in the woods and in town.

Dandelioness Herbals Online Etsy Shop
-Elderberry Ginger, whole Echinacea, & Tulsi Elixir Immune Health Trio  Three Dandelioness Herbals tinctures/elixirs perfect for back to school time, the change of seasons, and anytime you need some immune health support. Stock up for the colder months or share with friends and loved ones when they're feeling under the weather! 

-Stay Ready! nourishing elixir for thoughtful clarity helps us keep on top of our game, supports us through deadlines and actions, and helps us integrate information and experiences.  Great gift for students, community organizers, writers, and those who move between worlds and communities, cross-pollinating and building bridges in the spirit of solidarity.  Also available in the Green Tech: Herbal Support Kit for Students, Activists/Organizers, & Writers kit 

-Relaxation in a Bottle Choose Your Own Custom Tincture /Elixir to Relieve Stress.

New Class!

Community Self-Care: Nourishing our Nervous Systems for the Long Haul
Three Thursdays, Sept 11th, 18th, & 25th, 2014 5:30-8pm.  Plainfield Fire Department, Plainfield, VT

Feeling frazzled? Wound up? Burnt out?  Come replenish and rejuvenate in this 3-week work/playshop. We will nourish our nervous systems with simple (and free/affordable) self-care practices and make calming remedies collectively to bring home and share with our loved ones and communities. Each class will focus on three common abundant herbs that grow here, either in the wild or in the garden.

This is a hands-on class with lots of show and tell (& taste and tell!) and learning directly from the plants. And each other. We will focus on practical ways that we can integrate relaxing herbs both internally and externally into our everyday lives. While created with caregivers, gardeners, and community organizers in mind, all experience levels and backgrounds are welcome.

Space is limited. Please pre-register by contacting or 802-454-0102.  Accessibility: There are 3 steps in front of the building and 4 steps inside.

The 3-week series is $45-90 sliding scale ($15-30 per class, according to what you are able to pay). If you’re interested in participating, but the cost is out of reach, please be in touch. Please be in touch with any questions.  Facebook event page here.  

Feel Good, Look Good Spaahh! : Remedios Fundraiser!

Sat Oct 4th 11am-5pm (doors close at 4pm)
Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, 252 Main St, Montpelier, Vermont 05602

Treat yourself in solidarity! 

Support grassroot herbal remedies for the migrant farm worker community in VT. Come to the Feel Good, Look Good Spaahhh with Massage, Footbaths, Tarot reading, Herbal Teas, Flower Essences, Cupping, Facials, and Haircuts!

Remedios VT is a solidarity-not-charity project getting seedlings and herbal remedies to members of the migrant farm worker community in VT.
(Want to support Remedios, but can't join us for the event? You can contact/send a Paypal donation to: Thanks! Gracias! )

Facebook event page here.

More updates about this event and others will be added to the Dandelioness Herbals blog's Workshop and Events Calender and Facebook page.

If you would like to receive Dandelioness Herbal community health updates via email, please sign up on the blog's home page or email

Photos from the top: 
1. Late summer harvest!  With Red Raspberry leaf, Goldenrod, Yarrow, Blueberries, and St. Johnswort.   2. St. Johnswort oil for No More Deaths/No Más Muertes turns into Yarrow, Chamomile, Goldenrod, St. J oil for sore muscles, bruises, and minor wounds. 3. + 4.  Donation from Central VT herbalists for the Black Life Matters Ride to Ferguson, MO.  5. Crocheted Roses  6. Kitties for Equality! catnip and valerian double trouble cat toys    7.  Elderberry Ginger, whole Echinacea, & Tulsi Elixir Immune Health Trio  8. Plant Besties: Calendula & Heartsease Pansy/Johnny-Jump-Up  9. Abundant harvest. Red Raspberry, Lavender, Lavender Bee Balm, Sage, Yarrow, Goldenrod, and Chamomile.   10. Check out those pollen-icious saddlebags! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

(Mis)Adventures in Container Gardening: Creative Growing & Herbal Disasters

My most recent trip to Ireland really inspired me to explore container gardens.  In previous years I'd been blessed with access to home gardens and/or a community garden plot, both planted in the ground.  However I had to move during the growing season that year and was really sad about my garden plot being far enough away to often not get there for many, many days at a time.   Also, not having that daily checking-in on the plants I was cultivating felt ungrounding, especially during housing transition.

It's said that the best fertilizer is the farmer's footsteps.  And weather you start plants from seeds or they come to you bigger, being able to witness their day to day growth is really special and a true education that can't be taught in a classroom or through books.  (Not to mention how much easier tending/weeding is when it can be done little by little, rather than during marathon gardening sessions that can feel overwhelming!)  Witnessing my friends' creativity while visiting them in Ireland inspired me to begin a container garden on my balcony upon my return, so that whenever I finally found my next home*space, I could bring my beloved plants with me.

I've documented some of the creative ideas, thriving plants, and botanical disasters for our viewing pleasures.  I will probably continue adding tips, lessons, and photos to this post, so feel free to check in on it again later and/or share comments below. 

Disclaimer:  I am not a "master" gardener.  I am a plant-lover that tends to wing it and am a perpetual optimist, encouraging others that it's not to late to transplant seedlings well into the summer, etc.  I believe in working with what you've got, DIY/DIT (do-it-yourself/do-it-together)-style and on the cheap.  I plant with care and say "good luck to you" to the plants, give them good soil, water, and sometimes brews of chamomile or seaweed, but rarely do I coddle them at all.   Check out some books in your local library/bookshop or online resources if you're interested in creating raised beds that are accessible for folks with physical limitations, vertical herb gardens, and more!

In Ireland:

Left: Sunflowers growing from a basket-container in an outdoor space converted into a pantry/growing space.  Note the gorgeous design of the glass in the door!  Love those.
Right: A set of drawers converted into a garden for Calendula and other plants.  Covered with plastic mesh to keep out lil critters.  Both photos from Kinvarra, Co.Galway.

Above: Container gardens at a hotel in Limerick, designed by my friend Val.  Check out her food blog Val's Kitchen.

Val's amazing container garden- Transforming a wee space into lots of food.

More Val's garden: using vertical space to grow lots of plants.  Love this paddle with notches that she got at the farmer's market - holding 4 pots of plants.

Above: Val's window gardens.

Above:  Vibrant azul/azure pots of greens, flowers, scallions, and more by the sea in Cork.

And back to the States:

Above:  So when I returned, I gathered some pots and started growing on the porch!  Looking for pots?  Check with local landscapers, the recycle center/dump, put a note up at work, let your friends know, etc.  A lot of people are happy to pass containers on!  Also, sometimes you can find them up for grabs on the side of the road, or at yard sales.  No need to go and spend lots of money buying new containers.  While in general I prefer natural materials, I prefer plastic containers over clay pots for plants, as they hold water better and require less watering.

Have you seen those mini-greenhouse?!  I was given one.  And then...

...this happen.  I went to the hardware store for a few minutes and when I returned, the seedlings I'd just planted were like this.  If your intuition doubts the plastic joints holding it all together, listen to it!

Then that same day, I found a big, low, sturdy table for free on the side of the road.  Planting the seedlings, Take 2!  Actually, when the mini-greenhouse collapsed all but two stayed in tact, so I really just apologized to the plants and moved them to their safer location.

Above: Trellising the peas.  Wait, what's growing in the peas?!  Oh, dang it!  Lesson learned:  if you put your containers under the bird feeder, things such as this will happen.  Especially if the primary visitors are grackles that only seem to want the black sunflower seed and send all other seeds down into said containers.  Overall, germination for the seeds I planted was great.  Germination for the seeds that the grackles planted was outstanding!

Above:  Whether planting in containers, or a garden in the ground, I like putting the plants that you're going to be harvesting closer to you/the kitchen and making them easier to get to.  ie. In a garden, there are certain crops you're only going to be harvesting once or a few times (Corn, Garlic, Pole Beans, Winter Squash), while there are others you'll be harvesting much more often (Chamomile, Cilantro, Greens).  Also, if having a pot of Basil on your porch will mean you'll harvest it more and enjoy your summer more, even though your garden is only 10" from your front door and you could plant Basil there, put a pot of Basil on your porch!  Enjoy the summer!

Above:  I thought that perhaps the popsicle-stick fortress I constructed for the Catnip plant would protect it from the neighborhood kitties.  I was wrong.  However, a friend successfully grew Catnip in their garden by surrounding it with prickly Milk Thistle plants, keeping both of her two cats out.  When I planted two Catnip plants in a home garden, I successfully communicated to the neighbor cat that one was for him.  The other was for me.  I pointed and explained over and over one day.  After that day, I would find "his" Catnip covered in his golden and white hairs and well-loved (read: crushed, and perpetually bouncing back).  Mine was left to grow and for me to harvest.  Thanks kitty.

Above:  I usually prefer growing edible/medicinal plants because they are so versatile and beautiful, but near to houses that may have lead paint or other badies, I prefer to grow flowers.  Just for pretty.  Or spiritual protection.  Or to use in foot baths.  Or for the butterflies and bees to enjoy.  I think it's also good medicine for workaholic, efficiency-oriented people to welcome some just-for-the-beauty-of-it-in-the-present-moment into our lives.

Above:  I love that in my village there are guerrilla gardening faeries that tuck plants along common ground.

In the kitchen: I like (re-)sprouting food to have fresh food in winter and just to be thrifty.  When I chop up scallions (aka green onions), instead of composting the octopus-y roots, I either put them in water or in a pot of soil.  They don't grow back as strong, but if you're just looking for some chive-y flavor, here you go:

Also, I was given one of these shapely glass containers to "force" bulbs in late winter/early spring.  While it feels pushy to "force" plants long before any bulbs have pushed up through the thawing earth outside, it is quite amazing to witness the growth of the green sprout, watch the development of the roots, and then have the total luxury of fragrant blossoms.  (I was so busy relishing the paperwhite blossoms that I forgot to photograph them!)