we all have a plant that calls out to us. for some it's a beautiful peony flower, a magnolia, or a coffee tree. mine is a linden tree.
i harvested linden in the early morning of the summer with my son strapped to my chest in a carrier while my husband and daughter slept away the sunrise. in less than two weeks time i harvested six pounds of linden and received one bee sting.
now that i have children and a family to take care of, a home to keep, i have to prioritize my time. seriously prioritize. what i have found to be the most important activity to me and for my family is gardening. growing plants has given me deeper understanding of plants as food and medicine more than any book or class i could take.
before i had children, twig and leaf was very important to me. branding, growing my online presence and clientele while maintaining a safe personal life distance was what my world revolved around. it wasn't until i became more submerged in herbal culture that i became passionate about using local, sustainable and organically grown herbs. the more i learned about how herbs are grown, harvested and transported, the more i wanted to keep it local.
there seems to be a big slow flowers movement, but not so much for herbs. we have slow food, slow home, but where are our slow herbs?
it has to start somewhere. educating ourselves on the bounty of botanicals that surrounds us in our day-to-day life is a big step toward slow herbs. every morning i would harvest linden, i would be asked by inquisitive passerby what i am doing. i would have them first smell the flowers to appreciate the honey-scented sticky blossoms. then i would briefly explain how i use them and why. every person would be thankful for having learned something new.
the most repeated sentence i heard was "oh, i've never seen this tree before."
yes you have.
look around! really, honestly, take the time to smell the flowers.
question what this tree is. take a picture of it. use the vast resources we have available to identify plants. learn how to use them. once you do this for just one plant, say, you found some st. john's wort growing in a field. the first time you crush that yellow bud between your fingers and it turns your fingertips bright red, you'll be hooked. you'll want to know what other plants you have around you. and it's so easy! so why do we still import our chamomile from egypt? our lavender from europe and our sage from wherever else in the world that is not your backyard?
even if you get your herbs from whole foods, mountain rose, starwest, whatever big box herb supply store. you are probably buying organic, yes. but you're not buying sustainable. you're buying aged, dull, grown on an entirely different continent herb that is available to you so much closer. and some of these countries have very different growing practices than we do. it's not very clean, it's not very organic the way that you have it in your mind to be.
let's start our slow herb movement. let's start looking at what you have growing around you. and the best part-once you see the beauty in quality and time it takes to grow or harvest your own, there is no going back to big box herb supply.