Our Herbalists Without Borders East Africa Clinics Coordinator and Liason, Jeanne Hughes, shares with us that groups in Kenya have been especially active during the past month...
"During the final week of February and beginning of March, there were people from 13 diverse villages in training in Likuyani this phase. One of our activities was engaging in a forest hike and later handcrafting more than 100 litres of herbal medicines prepared for Kenyans in need. All of this was done in a sustainable manner.
The herbal clinical and education front remains strong and active, too. Dr. Sanga is an example of one of the fine clinicians located in Nyamira County in Southwest Kenya. He has a clinic at his home and travels to nearby villages. There is always comfortable bush lodging available for patients and for visiting herbalists.
Another group had nearly 25 men and women that attend health and herbal education meetings twice last month and this continues during 2017. They build and sew shoes for orphaned children, construct sanitary hygiene kits for girls and elderly. Another fundraiser engaged in is that of charcoal being packaged for medicinal purposes with instructions. Chili Salve is also prepared for sore muscles and jigger applications are made. Roselle tea is grown, packaged & sold to help reduce poverty within our circle and community.
The Shisaba Water and Resource Initiative is another group project that formed many years ago with the mission and specific purpose of providing safe, clean drinking water to villages in Western and Nyanza regions of Kenya. During 2015-2016 we partnered to present Botanical Medicine education and health care to many village members. Moses Omukunda Makachia, a friend and longtime member of Shwari, hosted us for two weeks of herbal trainings while there recently. His wife, Jenipher, is a talented tailor who has been instrumental in constructing Days for Girls projects for all those with a desire to learn specialized tailoring.
To learn more about our East Africa projects and clinics visit the Herbalists Without Borders International Borderless Medicine page and reach Jeanne Hughes.
Herbalists Without Borders features a global chapter on this blog regularly so you can get to know the wonderful groups and volunteers that make up HWB. All chapters are organized and managed by volunteers, and they fill unique but critical roles in their communities.
For our first featured chapter, we introduce you to Corfu, Greece. This is an active, vibrant chapter making a difference in their community!
Herbalists Without Borders, Corfu Chapter
What is your chapter name, and what region do you serve?
Our Chapter’s name is Herbalists Without Borders, Corfu Chapter. We are located on the island of Corfu in northwest Greece and we basically work on the island and the nearby mainland part of Greece, which is called Epirus.
How many members do you have in your group?
For the moment, we are 10 ladies since our Chapter has only a few months life. All of them are creative and active members of the local community with plenty of experience in different fields relative to herbalism, activism and voluntary work.
Who is your main coordinator?
The main coordinator is Eleni Christoforatou.
Do you have any projects you wish to share - what you made, who you worked with, and how it benefit your community?
We came together as a group just before Christmas.
Our first project was called “Make a tree for the birds” and it was a workshop for kids and parents at the 1st Primary School in Corfu Town. We spoke about the different needs we all have as seasons change and we made a tree with decoration that could be eaten by the wildlife living around the school while the school was closed for the Christmas holidays. The unexpected cold and snow we had this winter gave a special touch to this workshop.
This is not a typical herbal project, for sure! For us, it was an “honor our roots project” since many of our members first came together in bird conservation projects on the island and stepped into herbalism after many long hours in nature doing bird protection work. Nature conservation will always be part of our work, no matter what part of nature it concerns.
In February, we visited the High School at the village of Kastellani in Central Corfu. The students there have formed an Environmental Education Group which is studying traditional herbal medicine in Corfu. We spoke with the students about the way their grandparents were using herbs and we made calendula salves that they could take at home and get familiar with its use.
Once a week, we have an herbal medicine making workshop for our members. We come together and we make medicine for ourselves and for our herbal apothecary trying new recipes and researching new topics.
Does your region face any unique needs?
Corfu shares the everyday reality in Greece which under the present financial and political situation is unemployment, violation of all rights, poor health care services, poor educational opportunities and poverty for the most part of the population.
Do you have any special plans or goals for 2017?
We have scheduled a number of free workshops to different villages in Corfu in association with the local cultural societies in order to ensure everyone’s access in herbal knowledge for family and self-care.
We will participate at the 1st Experience Holistic Corfu Festival in June with plenty of free workshops and an informational desk.
We have a cooperation with the organization Terre des Hommes in Epirus to provide a one week long herbal training to one or two female refugees from Ioannina. The ladies will stay with us for a week and will attend an intensive herbal training that will be open to the locals as well, on Herb Identification, Foraging, Herbal First Aid, Herbal Remedies for Colds and Flu and other things that can help them relieve common ailments in their community. This training can be repeated again in autumn with the same persons or other persons, so that more and more
refugees will be able to use the herbs growing in their new place of living for self and family care.
What do you enjoy most about your HWB chapter or HWB International?
Current members of our Chapter have a long history of coming together and implementing projects to create the world we would love to live in. This world already exists for our small herbal community and is full of love, laughter and creativity. We hope that this small community will be able to embrace more and more people and spread this amazing energy all over the island.
We love to be part of a global herbal family and we are looking forward to welcome herbalists from other parts of the world in Corfu, as well as take part in international delegations and work hand in hand with the other Chapters to secure every one’s right in health care and wellbeing.
Non-GMO, heirloom, and/or organic seed companies
~By Erin LaFaive
This document was created by Green Wisdom: School of Natural and Botanical Medicine.
It provides a list of companies selling seeds and plants that are of non-GMO, heirloom, and/or organic focus. Click here to download a pdf file of this document.
~By Erin LaFaive
Saving the seeds from healthy plants is an ancient tradition in many cultures. Most seed saving is done for food, not medicinal purposes.
At HWB, we feel that our native medicinal seeds are just as important to save as food seeds. So many of our native medicines are in jeopardy if being lost due to over harvesting and land development. Mother Nature knows what these seeds and plants need to thrive. Many medicinal plants need particular needs to activate the seed to germinate. Many of them need a double dormancy that Mother Nature does best.
In order to save seed one must grow the plant successfully first. Many herb seeds need specific treatment to break the dormancy of the seed. The resources below not only provide information about growing medicinal plants, but also are valuable resources on specific needs of how to break seed dormancy.
Looking to purchase this book? Consider supporting Herbalist Without Borders using Amazon Smile. It's the exact same Amazon.com site but they track which organization you want .5% of the proceeds to go to.
Medicinal Community Garden in Eau Claire, WI. Photo by Kerri Kiernan.
~By Erin LaFaive
Seed saving is a way to pass on favorite plant varieties because of desired traits such as flavor, color, resistance against disease, and for herbalist, concentrated medicinal constituents. It’s also an inexpensive way to have a supply of seeds to start each spring. There are other ways to propagate (fancy way of saying “make more of”) plants too. Stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, grafting, dividing, suckering, etc. Where do we get seeds and other plant parts for propagating plants? One source could be community medicinal gardens like the one featured here. Kerri Kiernan, owner of River Prairie Apothecary describes how the garden was created and future plans.
Where is the garden located?
The herbal garden is located at Forest Street Community Garden where there is a shared garden and rental plots in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The garden is located in a historic part of Eau Claire called North River Fronts Neighborhood which has a sizable green-space due to its proximity to the river and designation as a "floodplain". The neighborhood still remains to the east of the garden space and Phoenix Park is located to the south of the garden. Soon, bike trails will connect the new High Bridge to the Farmer's Market area by meandering through the Forest St. Garden; it's a great spot for a garden!
There are about 50 individual rental plots at this community garden as well as a large shared plot managed by 10-15 people each season. Produce is shared and extras are donated to the Community Table, a place for people to get a free hot meal every day of the week. The herbal garden is used for demonstrations, education, herbal products, and as a space for medicinal plants to thrive within the city.
How did the garden idea get started?
The herbal garden was started 2 years ago after the gardeners got the "OK" from the city Parks and Recreation Department to expand the community garden north along the Chippewa River. This was in 2014 when I returned from an intensive and inspiring herbal program in Williams, Oregon at Herb Pharm. I was determined to grow some of the amazing plants I had been studying and dreamed of having my very own demonstration garden.
What was the process of getting it started?
Much work went into starting the Forest St. Garden as a whole, and could easily be a book! The herbal garden had already gained support from the city/parks department as it was an add-on for the already existing garden. I engaged a handful of volunteers in assisting with building the dirt-raised beds in the spring and Andrew Werthmann, the garden coordinator, tilled up the space for me as we battled cutworms the first year. In order to start the seeds in March, I set-up a little grow room in my home using fluorescent lights and a space heater.
The seeds were purchased from Horizon Herbs and I also acquired plants from local green houses and other growers. Additionally, I did a lot of transplanting of wild plants that were in spaces where they would potentially be destroyed. I did a lot of transplanting from the prairie spaces along Galloway St. and River Prairie Drive in Eau Claire as I knew it was slated for development. I always tried to remember to be respectful and asked the plants for permission to move them before I dug them up; only once did one bee balm plant let me know it didn't want to be moved by breaking my shovel! Plants sure have personalities too... I also transplanted different plants that were quite abundant in numbers in their natural locations so I knew that I wasn't doing any damage to any local plant populations by bringing some to the downtown garden.
I invested a lot of personal funds to get the garden going but luckily found much excitement and willingness from others to help with digging, weeding, harvesting, etc. As it is mostly a perennial garden now, costs are not so high. Each year I try a few different plants as annuals just for fun and usually trade with other herb nerds and plant lovers.
What kinds of plants are in it?
As you can imagine, I have a lot of plants in the mint family which can be easily split. These include motherwort, lemonbalm, peppermint, skullcap, and maybe a few others that are still establishing themselves such as anise hyssop and horehound. The summer of 2015 was the second year for the garden and I already found myself drowning in mugwort and several other plants that were quite prolific! Echinacea really loves the space and self-seeds hundreds of little plants that can easily be transplanted to another garden. I also have comfrey and valerian which most likely would not be opposed to splitting.
Some newer plants I have added include teasel, lupine, boneset, and elecampane. Some of my very happy self-seeding plants include chamomile, calendula, sunflower, goldenrod, primrose, and more skullcap. If you time it just right, you could collect those seeds in the summer and fall. I collected my own ashwagandha seeds from my first year plants and planted them this past summer with good luck; they did not get big enough to produce seed as I transplanted them late, but that one is definitely worth-while as far as seed collection goes.
Any future plans for it?
I plan to keep using the garden beds in more efficient ways and to play with the borders. It is mostly perennial so I do not till it each year which means that weed pressure is pretty high along the edges. I tried several plants as a border and so far, only the mugwort can withstand the perennial weeds that try to creep in; it looks pretty wild as a hedge. I am a bit of a perfectionist and so I hope to ramp up public events and classes in the herbal garden this season as the garden will be in its third year and looking pretty good. I need to make cute signs for the plants so that when people wander through the garden they can learn on their own. I hope to continue to get more local herbalists using the space as I always have a lot to share.
Working with herbs and plants in a hands-on way is such an experience; you really get to know the plants. I encourage anyone who is interested in medicinal herbs to get in touch with me if they would like to be involved with the herbal garden for the 2016 season. You can find me at: River Prairie Apothecary on Facebook. Another great way to reach me is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mulched pathways amongst the raised garden beds growing medicinal herbs. Photo by Kerri Kiernan.