By: Sean Towle, Production Assistant Corpsmember
There is nothing I love more about the farming world than all of the new and exciting things I get to learn every day! Lately, a lot of these new learning experiences have presented themselves first through plant identification and then through further research outside the farm. I’m not talking about “what is this tomato about?” or “how many calories does this spinach have?” but more along the lines of “did you know you could eat this root?” and “what can I do with this flower?”
Over the past few months, I have learned so much about all of the plants we are not purposefully growing on the farm (the so-called weeds) and how useful and beneficial they can be. For example, did you know that Lamb’s Quarter (pictured above) is not only edible, but is on par with spinach in both taste and nutrients? Or that you can make “coffee” with the root of Chicory plants (and they smell like cupcakes when you roast them)? Or that Day Lillies, the plant almost everyone has growing for decoration in their yard, have edible buds and grow from tubers that taste like sweet potatoes? All these plants, and many more, have been teaching me so much about what I consider food and what we consider weeds!
On the other end of useful plants, I have been learning so much about the medicinal properties of plants, and have even started my own “medicine garden” at the farm! For the past 5 months, I have been taking a monthly course with Olivia from OHerbals where we’ve been learning about body systems, plant medicine, energetics, different cultural beliefs behind plants, community health, and so much more! Among the countless things we’ve made both inside and outside the learning space, some of the ones that have stood out to me are: a hair tonic from stinging nettle and rosemary, cordage from dogbane, a linament from St. John’s Wort and mullein, and, my personal favorite, elderflower syrup! I think it is these learning opportunities and learning about the healing properties of plants that keep my interest so high in the plant world every day.