Join me as I host WZZM’s Val Lego in my gardens and herbal kitchen to share my love of the edible weeds of spring!
As August ends and the last of the elderberries dry on the bush, I offer an ode to the Elder - one of my great plant allies. I first fell in love with the Sambucus canadensis on a summer’s eve last year at Trillium Haven Farm, as I filled my baskets with the Elder’s delicate blossoms and dried them for my winter’s tea.
The soft flavors of the infusion of the flowers provided me great relief in the cold months from aches, chills, and malaise; and I’ve come to quite enjoy a cup of the tea when the chills come on - usually adding in a heaping handful of yarrow blossoms and a good drizzle of local honey. I’ve even taken to rely on this hot infusion during the high heat of summer to ward off those pesky summer colds.
This season, I’ve been delighted to find that the small elder trees in my own gardens are growing prolifically, and I’ve sought out my own secret elder groves where I been so lucky to wildcraft its flowers and berries.
As a measure to prepare for the winter ills, I’ve put up a considerable amount of elderflower tincture (as well as dried the flower heads), elderberry tincture, infused elderflower (& yarrow) honey, and elderberry elixir. I look forward to using these wonderful preparations in a rotation along with other plants to keep my family well such as the boneset and yarrow — just a few other amazing plant allies I have by my side.
Bring it, influenza. No Tamiflu, thank you. I’ve got my family protected by the Elder.
And while I am not recommending that the Elder can treat or cure any specific illness or disease (because the FDA wouldn’t want me to recommended anything of the sort), I certainly would be sure to seek out the Elder if you don’t know it already. It’s an amazing plant and a good one to know. And abundant and local. Can’t beat that.
If you wish to read a bit more about this great plant, take a moment to enjoy the writings on the elder by my teacher and Great Lakes herbalist, Jim McDonald and another writing by Southwest herbalist, Kiva Rose — whose recipe I’ve adopted check it out!
Giving Back: As a way to celebrate my birthday week & the abundance I’ve been given in this life, I decided to sponsor a Brasilian village via World Vision Brasil to help increase its capacity to make its own herbal medicines and market its organic foods.
My donations will go through World Vision Brasil because of a visit my husband and I took there earlier this spring. The purpose of the Brasil trip was to see innovations in community and economic development around the country.
And while World Vision is primarily known for it’s Christian-based, child sponsorship program; World Vision BR showcased to us some of the coolest collaborative programs that were truly helping people and communities build capacity to lead better lives. Having a background in NGOs, I was truly impressed by their best practices, solid partnerships and real life testimonies from the communities they serve.
Of all the stops, (we visited the favellas of Fortaleza, Sao Paulo and rural villages outside of Fortaleza in Mossorro and Apodi), Apodi was one of my favorite visits. Located in the north country of Brasil, Apodi is in a climate that is semi-arid, with little regular rainfall, making agriculture difficult.
We met the coolest, most resilient farmers (mostly women!!) in Apodi —Absolutely beautiful people. The villagers showed us their orchards, their bee hives, honey processing and cheese processing areas with great pride.
Small micro-loans from World Vision have helped the village build the processing facilities the farmers need for their harvests. Having these facilities has made it possible for the small-scale farmers to have access to larger markets to sell their processed pulps. The loans have also helped women grow their value-added businesses, which in turn has increased the home’s economic independence greatly.
This, coupled with President Lula’s progressive poverty alleviation strategies (affordable housing, local food production/food security policies) makes it possible for the families of Apodi to make about $750/mo.
And while there are still stark contrasts between the classes in Brasil, forward- thinking, private-public partnerships like those World Vision facilitates are truly giving hope to a country that has struggled with domestic instability for decades. There is truly a sense of hopeful-ness among the people. And that’s inspiring.
Contrast that with what is going on in the U.S. … well, that’s for another post.
Here’s to helping my fellow plant friends in Brasil. May they continue to be resilient, their crops bountiful and medicines healing. And may I continue to be mindful of my blessings, try to live more simply, and always be focused on improving the world around me.