It's all history

When I think back over another week that’s flown by without any writing, I try to think of the one thing that a day would be remembered by: a conversation? a new harvest? a challenge? a storm? By this time of the year I tend to think we’re cruising on auto pilot— that every day has become somewhat predictable and blurry under the steady stream of harvest— but it’s not true. Each day in my history continues to feel distinct, new things pop up, old things remain beautiful, and the blur of early autumn harvest time is punctuated in real time and in memory.

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Medicinal plant workshop with the crew

"Useful non-commercial plants of the Youth Farm, aka Weed Walk"

An annual workshop for the Youth Farm crew about plant medicine

(In much better words than I could conjure up on this hot afternoon)

1. I am not an expert.  I have been studying herbs intentionally for about seven years, in varying degrees of intensity and in various ways (reading books, taking workshops, class series, and experimentation with myself, friends, and family), but I've only scratched the surface.  My training has been focused primarily on Western European herbs that have naturalized here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as many northwest native species.  Most of my perspective comes from two teachers, Jaci Guerena and Howie Brounstein, as well as a smattering of other teachers at herbal gatherings and workshops.  If anyone ever tells you they're an expert in herbal medicine, run away.

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May morning photo journal

May morning photo journal

I arrived early today to finish revamping a little herb and flower garden near the farm stand, and to document all the beautiful crops approaching harvest.  I've been struck dumb a lot in the past couple weeks, walking through a field, looking down to notice how fresh and thriving the [insert broccoli, green onions, carrots, peas, etc etc] are looking.  It warrants another photo journal, since the brief evening one I did about a month ago caught nothing of this sort.  It's really time.  We're on the verge of harvest season.

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Farm to School + Weed Walk

Farm to School + Weed Walk

Part One: Farm to School

…There's constant feedback to give and questions to answer, and it's fun to approach a project like that with different eyes.  They comment on the itchy weeds among the chard, notice bugs I'd overlook, and show off almost every leaf they find to harvest.  Forget the cartload of chard we delivered at the end of the day.  The whole process is a stream of victories.

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Evolving visions

Evolving visions

My goals for Wild Heart Botanicals are constantly evolving.  The idea of starting an herb farm was in the back of my mind for years, and it got a jump start when my friend Dana and I started brainstorming herbal business possibilities in 2015.  She'd been training as a midwife and postpartum doula and had been thinking about making herbal products for women's reproductive health.  I mostly wanted to grow herbs, but I'd been studying the ethnobotany of women's health after graduate school and was keen on putting it into practice.  So, we got as far as forming a name and throwing lots of ideas around, and then she realized there were too many unknowns in her immediate future to commit to a business.  Though I would've loved to have a partner, I just kept running with it on my own.

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Moving day for medicinals

Moving day for medicinals

They sat sadly in pots for too many days during that unexpected move, until I found time before and after work to clear out quack grass and irises from a small plot next to the farm stand.  They've survived, shaded by an almond and a hazelnut tree against the shed, for two seasons in that little garden.  They've ignited customers' curiosity and been part of a few medicinal plant workshops I've led for youth farmers and interns.  I've also harvested several of them, lovingly at the peak of their summertime vitality, to make tinctures or salves.  Despite all this though, they've remained pretty sad.  There's just not enough light in that little sliver of garden.

So today I decided to give some of my favorite herbs a new home in my sunny plot at the Whiteaker Community Garden in Eugene.

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Japanese exchange... and a start to herbs

Japanese exchange... and a start to herbs

A group of young Japanese students came to volunteer at the farm this afternoon.  I usually give groups an introduction to our programs and FOOD for Lane County before leading them on a tour of the site.  Today, as I started to explain the mission of our program, I caught myself and backed up a bit to some key terms we use: hunger, food insecurity, and poverty are most central to understanding why we exist.  As I explained food insecurity and hunger to the students, their faces turned blank.  

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