PROJECT: COMMUNITY MEDICINE GARDEN
The “Growing Season” is upon us! Time to sow what we will reap!
Many of us have HERB gardens. We love the benefit of growing, handling, and utilizing HERBS for ourselves and for our families. We may be involved with an HERB, homesteading, or gardening group. Recent crises have inspired individuals, families, neighbors, and communities to cooperate toward goals of educational, financial, and nutritional enrichment / survival. Crisis makes us realize how much we need each other and that we are not “in this alone.”
My goal, as an HERBALIST, is to act as a conduit. I will always be a student, so I will always want to share what I am learning, as well as “plant seeds” of desire to learn about Healing Ourselves- the Old Way, in others.
The Community Medicine Garden Project will involve a group of at least ten folks cooperating in a project that will culminate in the accumulation of ten medicinal HERB Medicines with which to stock your Medicinal HERB Cabinet. You will grow, harvest, and create medicine from ten important HERBS. The Medicinal Herb Cabinet can be generated by your family members, your neighborhood, your gardening group, or your community.
The purpose of this project is to provide TEN HERB MEDICINES to each of the ten members of the project group.
Great by-products of this project are HERBs and Remedies that can be also brought to the marketplace.
We will talk about the specific HERBS, but first let’s
look at an overview of the project.
1.*Gather your Group.* You will need ten participants who will commit to devote garden space to this project.
2.*Decide Plot Size.*Suggested HERB PLOT: ten to twenty square feet. You may have the acreage and energy to devote an acre or more if you wish to market your HERB or Product after harvest. You could also plant within a circumscribed area- dividing the area into ten plots. (i.e. within an urban city block) Plot size will depend on plant size.
3.*Organic?* Your group should discuss whether you want to grow your HERBS organically; in which case the time span of the project will engender at least three years. If you are already growing in an organic environment – great! Placing “Organically Grown” on your products is one of the pinnacles of gardening and production!
4.*Share* Share knowledge, time, and HERB Medicines. This is an educational as well as a functional project. As you begin the project, realize that you bring to bear your questions as well as your answers. Just as you share knowledge of gardening, so will you share knowledge of “Concoction-Action” – Making your own Medicine! You will make remedies with the ten HERBS together; then swap them within the group. At the end of the Project, each of the ten participants will have an HERBAL Medicine Chest of Ten Important HERBS. Remember, HERBAL remedies may be made from aerial tops, fruits, or roots, so it may be possible to make several different remedies from your plants- such as a tincture and a salve. Your group may find that you want to plant HERBS that serve several purposes. (i.e. Medicinal AND Culinary)
5.*Choose Ten HERBS* Choose one HERB from each of the ten categories below. Each participant or family will be responsible for planting, growing, and harvesting at least one HERB to share during the Project. You can make your choice based on the presentation of the HERB in the garden (flowers) and/or the medicinal value it will provide once harvested. Keep in mind, that at the culmination of the project, you will be making medicines for your Medicine Chest to share with the group, so in each category- pick the one that fits best within the group. Think about the HERB remedy you need, then check with the group to assess the “fit.”
6.*Medicine Making* [For many of you, this will be the most involved step.] You will have plenty of “thyme” to learn about this while your HERBS are growing. You should meet frequently to discuss each process of making tea, oil, extract, tincture, cream, salve, syrup, and liniment. Discuss record keeping; labeling; and Good Manufacturing Practices. Assess what you will need to package your remedies –jars, dropper bottles, or tins. The fun part of this project is learning the techniques of making medicines with your family and friends. You can improve your skills by checking past articles in EH, by scouting the internet, or by enlisting your “resident HERBALIST.”
TEN HERB MEDICINAL CABINET IDEAS (Choose one from each category)
- Cleansing HERBS- Liver:
Astragalus, Burdock, Milk Thistle,
Nettles, Licorice, Dandelion, Yellow Dock. Blood
and Lymph: Turmeric, Red Clover, Poke, Chickweed, Cleavers, Calendula,
Rosemary, Garlic, Elder, Hawthorn, Yarrow. Lung:
Goldenrod, Self-Heal, Yerba Santa, Lobelia. Kidney:
Parsley, Pipsissewa, Marjoram, Cat’s Claw, Comfrey, Corn (Silk), Fennel,
Chickory, Urva Ursi, Marshmallow, Joe Pye, Goldenrod, Juniper Berry, Bisort.
- Moisturizing HERBS- Comfrey, Plantain, Slippery Elm,
Marshmallow, Burdock, Horsetail, Mullein, Dandelion, Yellow Dock, Nettles,
Milky Oat Seed, True Solomon’s Seal, Cleavers, Chickweed, Flax, Evening
Primrose, Borage, Sesame, Angelica, Salvia, Comfrey.
- Cooling HERBS- Usnea, Yarrow, Echinacea, Feverfew,
Chamomile, Sorrel, Yarrow, Sour Fruits such as Rose Hips, Peach, Strawberry,
Sumac, Hawthorn, Wild Cherry.
- Relaxing HERBS- Wild Lettuce, Lemon Balm, Blue Vervain,
Agrimony, Chamomile, Catnip, Nettles, Spikenard, Milky Oat Seed, St. John’s
Wort, Lavender, Fennel, Peppermint, Lobelia.
- Restorative HERBS- Comfrey, White Poplar, Gotu Kola,
Bacopa, Lavender, Aloe Vera, Slippery Elm, Rosemary, Bisort.
- Sedating HERBS- Lemon Balm, Basil, Lavender, California
Poppy, Wild Lettuce, Blue Vervain, Catnip, Yarrow, Peach, Rose Hips,
- Drying HERBS- Sumach, Raspberry, Blackberry, Witch Hazel,
Wild Geranium, White Oak, Sage, Horse Chestnut, Bayberry, Black Walnut,
Agrimony, Bisort, Lady’s Mantle, Broom.
- Warming HERBS- Calendula, Ginger, Cayenne, Angelica,
Prickly Ash, Nettles, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Pepper, Garlic, Horseradish, Anise,
Basil, Cumin, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Mustard Greens, Parsley, Rosemary,
- Toning HERBS- White Poplar, Mushrooms-especially Reishi,
Shiitake, and Maitake, Goldenrod, Milky Oat Seed, Calendula, Nettles.
- Stimulating HERBS- Spikenard,
Lavendula, Yarrow, Echinacea, Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, Horseradish, Cabbage,
Mustard, Thyme, Elder, Sweet Annie, Wormwood, White Pine, Cedar, Juniper.
I realize that there are many HERBS that I have not mentioned here. There may be HERBS that I have not mentioned that prosper better where you live. You may, and I hope you do, think of HERBS or HERB Groups that I have not included that will add dimension to your own Community Medicine Garden.
As a matter of fact, I hope that you utilize this list and project as a stepping stone to enriched HERBAL knowledge and application in your lives.
To help you with your research, I would like to recommend the following:
A MODERN HERBAL IN TWO VOLUMES Mrs. M. Grieve
THE PRACTICE OF TRADITIONAL WESTERN HERBALISM Matthew Wood
MEDICINAL PLANTS AND HERBS Peterson Field Guides Steven Foster and James A. Duke