Embracing the Darkness: Halloween Traditions By Aisling Badger, October 28, 2016

Witchy bicycleWhether you are celebrating a traditional Samhain, or honoring past lives for the Day of the Dead, this time of year is traditionally a moment of ritual and celebration. Samhain is a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  The festival honors transitions and the year’s bounty with merriment, food and drink. Harvest season has come to a close. It is time to embrace the dark and find new ways to bring light into our lives.

The Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican festival that honors those who are no longer walking with us. This holiday is celebrated with parties, rituals, food, dance and beautifully vibrant decor. 

It is often said that the veil between the spirit world and our physical world is thinnest on All Hallows Eve, and thus it is the prime time to communicate with elders, past family members or the spirits. People have traditionally dressed in costume with the idea that if we are disguised on this night, we will be hidden from the roaming spirits and they won’t take us back with them to the Other Side.

This is a special time to honor and reflect upon the year, however you may choose to celebrate. A sense of magic often gets lost in a busy, fast-moving world. Magic can mean all sorts of things, but there is something primal about finding the time to connect with nature and to a deeper spiritual side, by allowing ourselves to feast, to be warm and to light up the dark together.

This year’s Halloween coincides with the New Moon, which is symbolically a threshold for new beginnings. This is a great time to […]

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Fire Cider: The Ultimate Summer Preservation! by Colleen Dando, October 7, 2016

Fire Cider ingredients on a cutting board

With fall upon us, we all feel the pull to visit our local farmers and collect the bounty of the fields! One way to preserve some of our most powerful immune-enhancing foods is to steep them in raw apple cider vinegar. The health benefits of raw apple cider vinegar are many. From live enzymes and bacteria, to a wealth of B-vitamins, what more could you ask for in a little immune enhancement?

We decided to add a little flare to the traditional fire cider recipe, to help better capture the summer energy of bright colors and vibrancy. The possibilities are limitless and we encourage you to get creative with it.

Featured: powerful and pungent fresh horseradish, ginger, garlic, onion and hot pepper.

Added enhancement: fresh, curcumin-rich yellow turmeric, deep ruby red dried hibiscus petals containing naturally occurring vitamin C, and peppery yellow, gold, red nasturtium blossoms that embody summer’s vibrancy!

Fire Cider is traditionally used for fast-acting support. The immune-enhancing effects of the veggies, herbs and spices in this formula support our bodies as we transition from the warmth of summer into the cool temperatures of fall and winter. Whether you need an immune system rev up or want to spice up a salad dressing, this can be taken as frequently or as little as you want.

For immune support, take 15-30 mLs every couple hours. It can be diluted in water or taken straight. As Rosemary Gladstar recommends, a small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic. Take it more frequently if necessary to help your immune system do battle.

It is extra fun to cook with it and seeing how it enhances your meals…. To your health and bon appetit!

grating horseradish [...] </p> </body></html>

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Root Medicine: An Herbalist’s Guide to Digging Roots by Aisling Badger, October 4, 2016

Cleaned Burdock Root

Fall is harvest time, not only for winter storage crops like beets and carrots, but for all those beautiful medicinal plants we have been watching flower and grow for many months now. Harvest provides a sense of the changing seasons and a chance to prepare our medicine cabinet for the year to come. It’s a special practice to take note of the places we frequent, to watch the full seasonal growing cycle and then to harvest the powerful medicine when it comes time. Autumn is the time of year when plants’ energies are focused back into the roots.  They are no longer producing leaves and flowers. Thus, it this time of year (late September and early October) when the roots’ medicinal qualities are most potent. For herbs such as Dandelion and Burdock, the inulin is highest at this time of year.  It’s good to try and harvest roots before the first hard frost. Once the ground gets hard, it becomes difficult to dig!

Some of the species we at Urban Moonshine especially seek out and use are Dandelion, Burdock, Yellow Dock, Echinacea, and Elecampane.  All of these thrive beautifully in Vermont and are ever abundant in our fields, woodland paths and back yards! They are also key ingredients in most of our formulas.

 

Hallow Herb Farm digging dandelion roots

Harvesting practices and techniques:

  • Before harvesting- make sure you are 100% confident that the plant you are about to harvest is what you think it is.
  • It’s always good to […]

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Herb Harvest and Preservation by Jeff Carpenter, Co-Owner & Operator of Zack Woods Herb Farm, Guest Blogger, September 11, 2016

Milky Oats Drying

Growing herbs is easy! After all, these plants are wild by nature and have adapted to tolerate pests, diseases and even the neglect  of their two-legged caretakers who cultivate them for our health and pleasure.  But as we walk through our wild and cultivated gardens, the thought of how to capture and store as much of our plants healing and nourishing potential as possible can seem overwhelming.  Fortunately it’s not as hard as one might imagine but before we get into herb preservation, let’s briefly discuss when and how to harvest.

Herbs, whether culinary, medicinal (or both as many are) should be harvested at the peak of potency for maximum benefit.  For most leaf crops such as those in the mint family (i.e lemon balm, nettles, basils, etc.) harvest at the early stages of flowering during dry weather using pruning shears, field knives or by stripping leaves off with bare hands. Blossoms such as calendula, chamomile and arnica should be harvested during dry sunny weather when flowers are fully open using your hands or a device such as a chamomile rake. Roots are best harvested when the plants are dormant (late fall through early spring) and the energy of the plant has gone from above ground growth back to its roots. Spading forks are best for digging roots as they don’t tend to cut lateral roots off as shovels can do.

Chamomile and EchinaceaTo clean freshly harvested herbs, shake or lightly brush them to remove debris clinging to leaves. Washing leaves and blossom is […]

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