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Calendula is not (only) for you

calendula flowers

It’s starting to make me uncomfortable, seeing herbs described and defined by what they can do for us. And if we think they’re especially useful, they’d better watch out- we’ll hunt and gather them to extinction.

Plants were not put here for people, as the old story tells. They were living on this planet for eons before we came along and were keeping pretty busy without us.

Calendula flowers, for example, provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Calendula roots form active partnerships with fungi, benefitting the soil. The fact that Calendula has so many health and beauty benefits for people doesn’t mean that we have more rights to it than any other being.

I hope people can learn to think about plants in a bigger way. We’ve done so much taking. There’s a lot of giving back to do.

 

 

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Ready for Winter Downtime

Calendula still blooming in November garden

It is sad when garden time comes to a close. But we’re a bit tired after a long season and are looking forward to a little downtime.

The Hadley garden has already had frost. All that’s left are some greens growing under fleece, as well as a few Scotch Bonnet and Habanero plants still ripening their peppers under plastic cover. It’s getting cold now, though. We’re almost done.

The Northampton garden hasn’t had a frost yet. There are Calendula, Alyssum, and amazingly Nasturtium and Holy Basil flowering. Thank goodness! I’m still seeing honey bees.

That’s Calendula pictured above. Her orange-yellow color is so bright, it shines in my November garden like sunshine. This happy, pretty flower is one of the first to greet me in Spring and the last to leave in Autumn. I’ll miss hanging out with her in the garden.

Luckily, I’ve got a good stash of dried Calendula flowers to get me through the Winter!

 

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Let’s Bee the Balm

herbal balm

Borrowing from Caroline Casey, host-creator and weaver of context for “The Visionary Activist Show” on Pacifica radio station KPFA, “The world is on fire, so let’s bee the balm!”.

The idea of bee-ing the balm is why I started gardening with medicinal herbs. Besides being medicine for me, they’re also medicine for bees and other insects, animals, other plant communities, and the earth itself. Gardening (like veganism) is direct action.

I take it literally too, as I make vegan skin balms. I’ve been in that place where you try to be blind to an ingredient you don’t want that’s in a product you need. Using that product leaves you feeling, you know, not great.

That’s why I became such a stickler. It’s why I had to give up making water-based creams. They really require synthetic preservatives and I couldn’t continue to compromise my values, which in turn compromises any value I might give to my community and the planet. It stressed me out.

The gift in that was I had to learn my craft in a whole new way, to get more creative. Which led me to where I am now, making *plantastic* salves and balms that soothe the mind as much as the skin. I never hide ingredients behind a “proprietary blend” label. I’m proud to share everything I use and it’s all listed on my website and on the label because I want you to feel good too.

 

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Dominica, We Love You

Dominica

Hawkeye and I love the Caribbean. There’s no place we’d rather be outside of the garden.

We were shocked, stunned, watching as Hurricane Irma destroyed everything in her path. And now, with Hurricane Maria coming so soon after, so viciously, we are distraught and depressed. It’s hard to take it all in even though we are so far away.

The photo above was our first glimpse of the island that’s become first in our hearts: Dominica, the Nature Island; land of three hundred and sixty-five rivers, mountainous rainforest, a cerulean sea full of whale and fish, unique, unspoilt beaches, and lovely, lovely people. We planned to go back this Winter but sadly now those plans are on hold.

I thought I’d share a few photos to balance the images of destruction and I’d like to reiterate what seems to be the theme of the disasters currently happening around the world: People, it’s time to come together.

 

If you are able help, please visit the Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund website to donate to their hurricane relief efforts. Thank you!

 

To everyone in the Caribbean, our hearts are with you!

 

Grapefruit tree on the walk to Spanny Falls
Grapefruit tree on the walk to Spanny Falls
The black sand at Mero Beach
The black sand at Mero Beach
Produce for sale at Mero Beach
Produce for sale at Mero Beach

 

 

A song Hawkeye and I are often singing 🙂

 

 

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So down on plastic

herbs for skincare

Hype. Spin. Noise! How nutty it is that in this age of information, we can’t tell what’s real.

My remedy has been plugging in to the garden. The natural world is the really real world, and spending time there puts the made-up, plastic world around us into sharp focus, showing it as a bit ugly and kindof insane.

I love watching friends’ expressions as I give them a garden tour. Everyone feels it when they’re surrounded by the plants- a bit of awe, a bit of swoon, and a feeling that this space is somehow different, special; more happy and relaxed; more real.

That feeling is what I love about things that are handmade with plants. The colors, aromas, textures! Natural feels so good! Why should we settle for synthetic imitations?

Keep it real.

 

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