Thursday, July 16, 2015

July CSA Delivery

Swimming through waist-high stands of plants, guided by bird songs and bee hummmm, quenching thirst with sweet-sour berries and cucumbers-- high summer in Iowa! Fire energy drives us out into the world, not just to garden but also to visit, go to outdoor shows and festivals, exercise and enjoy recreation, find joy. In all of this, let us keep calm, stay hydrated, and use the herbs around us that keep us cool, steady the emotions, and maintain the body’s structure. 

Many summertime herbs (berries and rose family plants and several members of the mint family, for instance) have cooling and astringent qualities. These herbs tone and tighten tissues, with the effect that fluids move more easily through these tissues. In many cases, these same herbs relax and tone the nervous system, which means that flows can be adjusted under conditions of calm or, at least, lower stress. So, these herbs are good for the circulatory system. Rose plants including hibiscus, raspberry, and strawberry, cherries, berries, and other fruits that cool and tighten are also rich in antioxidants. Leaf teas and fruit smoothies made with these plants are easy to prepare with summer's bounty and are so beneficial for heart and vascular health. 

In summer, I tend to focus most of my wellness efforts on nourishment and movement: keeping the heart happy and the body cooling itself efficiently; also maintaining stamina and energy. The bones and joints often bear a good deal of stress in summer, when so much energy is projected into metabolic-heavy projects and recreation. It is a good idea to consume herbs and foods that supplement the vitamins and minerals that the musculoskeletal system needs (calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, minerals like silica)-- whether or not you have a kink in your back, or charley horses in your legs. 

High summer also whispers, "Beware, the pollen shall spread.." Ragweed and asters are starting to bloom, so if you are perennially plagued with seasonal allergies, take care to stock your medicine cabinet with plenty of freshly dried nettle and tulsi, for tea making.

May we all find ways to bear the heat and make lasting memories of these leaves and flowers, for they will soon wither and disperse, and give way to open ground and ripened seed deposits...

Summer's CSA share includes: 

Wild Rose Tincture
Allergy Calm Tea
Strong Bones Tea
Body Butter Nuggets (with jasmine and cedarwood essences)

If you would like a share, please email, or call Mandy to set it up (319)400-0987. Two more deliveries this year. You may become a member at any time before the final delivery (November). 

Single delivery costs $35, double drop is $65, triple drop $95.

More details about the Herbal CSA:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Workshops starting

Please join me for fun and practical workshops at Gaia’s Peace Garden, 2066 Bristol Drive in Iowa City! Gaia's is a fantastic community garden with both cultivated and wild spaces, an outdoor classroom, fairy homestead, and labyrinth. It is open to the public for all sorts of nature-focused good times-- go there and enjoy contemplative walks, picnics, community-building while gardening, artful ecological design, spiritual gatherings, and learning events for all ages.

Herbcrafting Workshops with Mandy

Nutritive Leafy Herbs/ Basic Harvesting, Use, Drying & Preservation Skills
Saturday, May 30th, 3:00-5:00pm

The focus of this class will be on leafy herbs, especially gentle ones whose chief beneficial constituents are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids (red raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, violet leaf, parsley, dandelion, nettle, chickweed, for instance). These herbs can be incorporated into daily nutritive practices in a variety of ways-- taken as teas and added to soups, salads, pestos, popsicles, and more. We will talk in depth about maintaining and harvesting leafy herbs, using them as fresh or dried medicinal ingredients in different preparations, and drying them for long-term storage. We will taste some fresh leafy preparations and blend dried leafies together! Participants will take home a bag of their own handmade blend for tea making. Bring any dried leafy herbs you love, already have on hand, and want to use or share with others. $3 materials fee, waived for Moon in June CSA members. Suggested $10 donation.

Solar St. John's wort/ Oil infusions and Tinctures
Saturday, June 27th, 3:00-5:00pm

This is an intensive hands-on study of the beneficial properties and uses of St. John's wort, where participants will also learn about preparing infused oils and tinctures from fresh herbs. We will start a small-size (4oz) solar-infused oil or tincture using St. John’s flowers or your choice of one of the other herbs flowering at Gaia’s Peace Garden-- this may include lavender, yarrow, calendula, rose, comfrey, thyme, bee balm, selfheal, vervain, etc. We will discuss and observe the sustainable harvesting of herbs, while we work. $3 materials fee, waived for Moon in June CSA members. Suggested $10 donation.

Medicinal Mints/ Herbal Honey and Vinegar Making
Saturday, July 25th, 3:00-5:00pm

The mint family is host to an abundance of medicinal herbs, which also work as ground covers and pollinator habitat. Learn to identify the many members of this family which are already at home and flourishing at Gaia’s Peace Garden (i.e., lemon balm, anise hyssop, sage, hyssop, oregano, bee balm, skullcap, vervain, catnip, tulsi, thyme, lavender). Gain an appreciation of the benefits they can make available to us, via culinary and medicinal preparations. Also, since mints are wonderfully preserved in honey and vinegar preparations, we will harvest some of these herbal allies and learn to make some delicious and useful things with them! Participants will take home a small jar (4-oz or 8-oz) of herbal yum. $3 materials fee, waived for Moon in June CSA members. Suggested $10 donation.

Plants a-plenty

Backyard Abundance of Iowa City ( hosted a plant sale fundraiser a couple of weeks ago. I sprouted and nursed lots of plants in order to take seedlings to this event. It was great-- on the day of the fundraiser I got to hang out with other local growers and tell people all about the plants I had available. I talked to bunches of people about the wonders of selfheal, milkweed, tulsi, chamomile, and lavender for garden and bodily health! I also took along a few baskets full of the therapeutic salves and balms I make from fresh herb-infused oils and local beeswax, and these generated fun discussions about comfrey, yarrow, and St. John's wort. Thanks to Backyard Abundance, this annual event spreads beneficial plants all over our area, plants that pollinators and wildlife love and the soil appreciates. I am always proud of them and excited to get to lend a hand in the important work they do.

I have these. Come get some.

But. I really should have taken more plants to sell...

I am planting every day at my home garden, and from time to time at Gaia's Peace Garden, and I still have so many plants. If you'd like tomatoes, basil, milkweed, skullcap, lobelia, nettles, selfheal, and possibly others, let me know! We can work something out.

Photos from the plant sale and fundraiser (April 25, 2015)

mugging by my plant beauties table

finished herbal preps table

May CSA delivery

Springtime delivery time has arrived for my dear CSA members. Just passed peak leaf time around my garden and apothecary, on the cusp of flower time already! I may have quite a load of stuff to put out there next month. (Preview: I am setting up to make honeysuckle and wild rose elixirs and a nourishing tea blend for bones/hair/nails with wildcrafted horsetail and homegrown chocolate-mint. A therapeutic salve will also be included. I will have more itch spray and bug spray, too, for anyone who's new and would like to try one of those.)

Let me know via email ( if you'd like to subscribe. I need 3-4 weeks notice that you want to be on the upcoming delivery list. Go here ( for more CSA details. 

Upcoming deliveries, tentative schedule:
week of July 25th (pick up will be at Gaia's Peace Garden workshop)
early September
early November
May 2015 Seal
What’s in the bag?
Spring Renewal Tea Blend
Itch Ease Spray
Coconut Quench Lotion
Dread Not Bug Spray

Here we are in the middle of Spring, the time of fast green growth and outer and inner renewal. This is the time of year when herbalists talk a good deal about the use of Spring tonics, or herbs for reinvigorating the body. In early Spring, there are whole dandelion, burdock root, and chickweed readily available in Iowa, along many a wilding path. These are herbs which can be used to gently cleanse the liver and lymph and flush away deeply stuck toxins. Usually by mid-Spring, my focus has moved away from detox though, toward re-setting or shoring up the body’s foundation. During this time of year, I like to choose herbs and foods that help me become sturdier, more active, fit for great work. Looking around at the herbs and shrubs and green foods available in the landscape, we can see how they are growing and becoming huge, adding tons of new cells every day-- first the dandelion, but then the violets too, the plantain, the nettles, the comfrey, the kales and other salad greens we've started, and on all the fruit bushes, so many leaves-- it is their time. Soon flowers, then fruit and seed, but now: leaves. Intuition says, this is where we should eat heavily and look to find our best medicine. Leafy greens incorporate an abundance of minerals and vitamins and can be used to build the quality and composition of the blood. Daily use of leafy herbs like nettle not only fuels you but can also ease seasonal allergies and inflammatory flares. (There are other leafy herbs within reach now that ease allergies by the way, such as plantain leaf.) Healthy leaf growth during Spring requires an abundance of water; our growth and renewal does also. The plants are suggesting to us that Springtime is all about solar power capture, bodily manufacture and stem energy flows. We know ourselves to be also busy pumping and circulating fresh nutrients, enriching and building our tissues; so, we will find it important to regard our cardiovascular health, especially at this time of year. Light daily exercise and adding omega-3 rich foods are easy ways to support cardio function. The highest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include seeds like flax, and leafy greens like arugula, purslane, and spinach.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Herbal CSA sign up

Moon in June Herbs is offering CSA memberships this year!  

Nourish and fortify yourself through the seasons with evocative things of the earth.  Learn how to integrate herbs and herbal preparations into your health and self care practices.  

Now's the time to sign up for a share of my handcrafted herbal produce.  Members can expect to receive: 
  • 4 bags of preparations, distributed seasonally (Winter's End, Spring Equinox, High Summer, Autumn Harvest)  
  • a newsletter containing information on the contents of each bag, plus recipes and garden and apothecary notes/commentary
  • opportunities for learning herbs as a group
  • bonus bundles of fresh herbs when available
  • access to a community herbalist (one sit-down consultation and continued, confidential communication)
  • discount on other Moon in June preparations (20% off)
Each CSA bag includes 3 finished preparations.  Bonus items are often included. The full share costs $120, or you may purchase a single bag for $35. Arrangements for a single bag should be made at least a month in advance.

Email Mandy to sign up (  We will want to sit down together and consult sometime before delivery of your goods.

"CSA" usually means community supported agriculture.  It is a movement started about 30 years ago which has gained in popularity nationwide, as more and more consumers seek to purchase locally made, seasonal goods directly from producers.  It is an endeavor through which small-scale producers and local consumers are held in a relationship of exchange and mutual support, at least through a growing season/production cycle, and often extending beyond that.  CSA delivers produce of exceptional quality and better value, because goods are especially fresh.

I believe strongly in CSA and have participated in it for many years.  I do it because it supports organic farming and entrepreneurship in my own community and at the same time enriches my diet as well as my sense of place.  Also, I find that participating in CSA gives my children a grounded framework for understanding food and economy.

Because CSA emphasizes human connection, community building, and ecologically balanced production and consumption, I see it as an excellent model for the herbal exchange I want to do.  Herbalism is an area where many people want to gain skill and reclaim practical knowledge.  Having a face-to-face relationship with a knowledgeable guide makes the process of learning herbs easier, less fraught with mystery or mistake.  I always caution people who get herbs from an anonymous source and use them without advice.  Being part of an herbal CSA means you know more about where and how your herbs grow, how preparations are being made, and how they can be used.  You can volunteer to be part of the production process as well.  You can request things be tailored to your individual needs.  You know that since your preparations are recently made they have not waned in potency and are of high quality. 

What kinds of things go into CSA bags?
  • a 2-oz salve for topical use
  • a 4-oz jar of infused honey
  • an aromatic preparation for bath & body, such as an herb-infused aftershave lotion or exfoliating scrub
  • a 1-oz bag of loose tea made at least partly of freshly dried leaves, flowers, roots, and/or fruit 
  • a 4-oz nourishing tonic or elixir or a 2-oz tincture