HWB is thrilled to announce a giveaway of a new book by Rachel Jepson Wolf - Herbal Adventures. Backyard Excursions and Kitchen Creations for Kids and Their Families.
Rachel graciously gave an interview about her love and journey with herbs, and her path to writing this beautiful book. I am happy to share this on the blog today, and announce that two copies of this book will be given away - See the instructions on entries at the end of the blog post on how to enter to win a copy!
First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to your love of herbs and herbalism?
I fell in love with plants as a child. A rough-and-tumble nature kid, I spent a lot of time outdoors, playing and exploring the woods and fields of my childhood. In college, I pursued a degree in environmental education and biology, choosing a career path that kept my my love of nature at its heart. Plants were my passion, and I dove headlong into their study during college and after graduation as a naturalist.
Despite a career in environmental studies, medicinal uses of plants were lacking from my education. I did not discover herbalism until years later when I became a mother.
My introduction to medicinal herbs came by way of a DIY baby wipes recipe that a friend shared with me that called for calendula oil. I couldn't afford the oil, and did a little research to see if I could make my own. I was delighted to discover that not only could I, the price was fantastic, and the process was easier than I ever imagined.
From that first infusion it was a slippery slope to a house full of remedies. The first book I purchased (an early Rosemary Gladstar publication) opened countless doors for me regarding the medicinal uses of the plants I already knew and loved from my career as a naturalist. My life was never the same! One book led to another; one herb led to another; and 15 years later, here we are.
Do you have a personal favorite plant? If so, which and why?
Oh, such a difficult question! Only one? Though nettle also tops my list, if pressed to choose, Monarda fistulosa would come in near the top. It has been a longtime favorite for me, perhaps because it was an herbs that came to me purely through intuition. Years ago, while struggling through a summer cold, I found myself inexplicably drawn to Monarda. At that time I only knew Monarda was edible - nothing of it being medicinal. I felt so pulled to spend time with Mondrda that one day I pulled my car over on my way home from work, hiked to a stand of Monarda, and chewed a single irresistible leaf. My sore throat was instantly soothed! I was in awe. I hurried home and did a bit more research, and–of course–Monarda is a wonderful ally for colds and sore throats.
I think this is a side of herbalism–that of leading with intuition, then following with research–is one that many of us have put aside in exchange for the well researched body of knowledge that already exists. We place books and teachers before our heart's own wisdom, but I propose there is room for both. Herbalism is a growing, expanding field of knowledge, and with attention to safety and appropriate use, we can all contribute to that wisdom.
We have many members that are educators. Your book focuses on kids and families. Do you have any tips for those herbalists that might not be parents, on working with/teaching kids of all ages about herbs and herbal medicine?
When teaching kids about herbs (both in my writing and during in-person classes) I always begin with the basics: only harvest a plant that you are 100% certain of its identity; never taste-test; always have a knowledgable adult confirm your ID; and always choose safe harvesting places (away from roads, pet waste, and chemical spray).
I also think it's also ideal to begin with plants that check the boxes below:
Generally regarded as safe
Simple to use (as a spit poultice, tea, etc.)
No dangerous look-alikes
This will help insure safety while kids build confidence and knowledge about herbs.
I also educate children on harvesting only plants that are abundant in their foraging places to ensure it's continued survival. (I use the "10-to-1 rule", outlined below.)
Children will be the stewards of our ever diminishing and at risk medicinal plants. How does including children in herbalism and plant education at a young age prepare them for that future?
I believe strongly that we grow to protect that which we love. This was the basis of my career in environmental education, it is my foundation as a homeschooling parent today, and at the heart of my work with kids and herbalism. By teaching children about plants, they will grow up with a deeper understanding of our place within (not separate from) the natural world. And when we learn about at risk plants at any age, the desire to protect grows naturally from that awareness.
When I teach foraging to children and adults alike, I employ what I call the "10-to-1 rule": for every ten plants you find, you may harvest one. I think this rule helps us be more aware, present, and mindful of the impact of our harvest, and inspires us to do our part to protect rare plants.
Which recipe in the book is a true favorite in your house? As in, both kids really love it too.
My kids are so different from each other, that they are drawn to different plants, remedies, and recipes. One recipe that we all love, however, is "Popcorn Confetti", a delicious mix of dried nettle, garlic, and dill that we often reach for as a popcorn seasoning. Another sure-winner is Usha's Chai. I have made regularly since I was a teen, and my kids have enjoyed this caffeine-free nettle, raspberry leaf, and rooibos version since they were young. And you really can't go wrong with elderberry gummies!
If you could choose just 5 plants to include in a family/kid friendly herbal first aid kit, what would they be?
It's hard to limit myself to just five! The plants below are always within reach in our family.
Yarrow for cuts and fevers;
Plantain for stings, splinters, and skin irritation;
Elderberry for immunity;
Mullein for lungs and ears;
Calendula for cuts, scrapes, rashes, and digestion
About the Author
Rachel Jepson Wolf loves nothing more than bringing people and plants together. With a degree in environmental education and biology, Rachel spent years helping kids and adults fall in love with the natural world. In 2002 she founded LüSa Organics, a botanical body care company, and more recently began leading In-person herbal retreats for adults and children. Today Rachel lives with her husband, Pete, and their two children, Lupine and Sage, on a wonderfully weedy homestead in rural Wisconsin. Her days are spent writing, foraging, playing with plants, and homeschooling her kids. Find Rachel at lusaorganics.typepad.com, where she blogs about herbs, farm, and famIly; or explore her herbal body care line at lusaorganics.com.
Follow the instructions below to enter for a chance to win a copy of the book Herbal Adventures. Visit facebook pages for an entry, and comment on this blog post for entries. Only one blog comment per day (CST), for up to a total of 4 entries (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday). Two people will be randomly selected as winners. This giveaway is open to all global residents. Please see terms and conditions for full details, exclusions, conditions, and rules.
The HWB blog posts the latest news, features our projects and volunteers, and shares resources!
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Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, 2nd Edition
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