• An Introduction to Permaculture

    Written by our friends at Orlando Permaculture — The term permaculture comes from the words “permanent” and “culture. “ However, many people have different definitions for permaculture and rightly so. The reason for this is that permaculture can be a mix of things. It is a way to design creative strategies as well as long-term solutions. It involves processes based upon the observations and patterns of nature. Permaculture can even be an approach to navigate your everyday inner world. Just as diverse and varied our natural systems around the world, so are the applications of permaculture. It is a way of thinking that’s ahead of its time, but also connects…

  • Relaxing Summertime Herbal Tea Blend Recipe

    Now that summer is coming to an end, the kids are getting ready to go back to school and the family is beginning  to settle into their new routines for the upcoming school year, now is a good time to carve out some “me time” in your new routine. A delicious hot cup of a relaxing herbal tea blend while soaking in a warm scented herbal bath sounds just divine to me, don’t you agree? Heres a recipe for one of my favorite relaxing herbal tea blends.   Relaxing Herbal Tea Blend Recipe   Step 1: Place equal parts of the following herbs in a jar with a tight fitting…

  • Materia Medica: Chaya

    I cringe when I hear the word “superfood” uttered in a mixed crowd. Between GOOP and Dr Oz, health and nutrition fads fill up my Facebook feed daily, and they fade into distant memory as quickly as they come. But many years ago, on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, I was introduced to a plant that may among the few that truly qualify for this acclaimed title! That plant was Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa or C. aconitifolius) , a hearty cactus-like tree that produces edible leaves. Multiple types of Chaya can now be found on permaculture farms throughout the tropics. Chaya is used throughout Central America as a food staple, especially…

  • Swamp Medicine: Healing Plants of Central Florida

    Herbalist Emily Ruff presented “Swamp Medicine: Healing Plants of Central Florida” at the 2017 International Herb Symposium, highlighting medicinal plants growing in the subtropical climate surrounding the Orlando area. While unfamiliar to many herbalists in temperate climates, the herbs featured within this presentation are central to the melting pot plant medicine traditions of this bioregion. Many traditions inform herbalism in Central Florida, from days gone by to modern times. Historic cultures using plants include pre-Seminole cultures who embraced the cycads and palms signature to our state, Spanish colonists who brought favorite plant medicines to cultivate within their settlements, migrating tribes like Creeks and Cherokees as well as southern slaves seeking…

  • Answer the call of the Plants – Community Herbalist Program

      Have you been called by the plants into service? … amazed and transformed by the wisdom of the plants …. desire to share their teachings with others? Our Community Herbalist Program can help be the guide on your continuing path with the plants. The Community Herbalist Program is an nine-month journey into the world of professional herbalism. We deeply explore the herbs in our Materia Medica, and the herbs in the wild around us through research, presentations, and plant walks. We guide our family and the community, supervised by professional herbalists, to grow more confident in our sharing of this wisdom with others. Community Herbalist Program includes rich, guided hands-on study,…

  • Materia Medica: Arrowroot

    Maranta arundinaceae, commonly known as Arrowroot, is a beautiful herbal ally to grow here in sunny Central Florida. It loves our tropical weather and thrives in humid environments. The rhizomes of this plant have been used across the world as a thickening agent in foods and medicines as well as a carrier powder for pigments in makeups. The common name, Arrowroot, comes from the long history of the rhizomes being used as an antidotal poultice for poison arrows in the jungles of South America! This nourishing herb can be really helpful with upset stomachs, sunburns, and even wounds. Margaret Grieve of A Modern Herbal has a great materia medica on…

  • Materia Medica: Anamu

    Anamu Petiveria alliacea is an herbaceous perennial that grows up to 1m in height. Indigenous to the Amazon rainforest and tropical areas of Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Anamu, aka Guinea Hen Weed, has a long history in herbal medicine in all of the tropical countries where it grows. Anamu grows in full sun to share, and prefers well drained soil. It is a cold-hardy tropical, that has colonized as far north at Hawthorn and Alachua, Florida. Medicinally speaking, Anamu is used for treating infectious pathogens and respiratory congestion. It’s spicy leaves have also be used in small quantities for flavoring. Anamu is commonly used for spiritual…

  • Materia Medica: Yarrow

    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a well-known plant ally throughout the United States and Europe. Yarrow is a flowering perennial, common in North America but also native to Europe and Asia. Its leaves are soft and highly segmented with a characteristic appearance that is almost feather-like. Yarrow grows stalks during the summer months, with a height that is dependent upon the seasonal rainfall. During dry years, these stalks may only grow a foot or two, preserving energy in its roots. Clusters of tiny white flowers grow atop the stalks, emitting a distinctive and characteristic aroma. Yarrow received its Latin name Achillea from the legendary Greek hero Achilles. According to the common…

  • Materia Medica: Vetiver

    Vetiver grass is used both as a hedge against erosion in permaculture colonies, and also a medicinal herb! It forms narrow, dense hedges when planted along the contours of sloping land, slowing down run-off and helping the water soak into the soil rather than washing off the slope. The stiff foliage also blocks the passage of soil and debris which gradually builds up a soil terrace. It’s roots yield an aromatic and medicinal essential oil, it sequesters excess atmospheric carbon, and Vetiver mulch is mycorrhizal-rich. Check out this amazing article about how Vetiver is used around the world to restore the land. Here is an entire podcast devoted to the…

  • Materia Medica: Camphor Basil or Kilimanjaro Basil

    Camphor basil or Kilimanjaro Basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) is a heat-hardy, perennial basil. It has a rich flavor and aroma, and attracts pollinators. Unlike many annual basils, this plant will grow incredibly tall and fast. It is an anti-inflammatory herb that can be used in food or prepared as tea. Kilimanjaro Basil grows long flowers spikes with small white to pale pink flowers and oval, pubescent leaves with a strong camphor fragrance. The leaves of Ocimum kilimandscharicum are acrid, thermogenic, aromatic, anti-bacterial, insecticidal, antiviral, appetizing, ophthalmic and deodorant. The plant loves rich, well drained soil in an always sunny spot.

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