A fresh perspective on growing and drying healing herbs

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Today’s piece is by Aubrey Hodapp, 21, a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio (my alma mater), where all students spend part of the years working at co-op jobs.

As the new spring quarter begins there is much growing to be done both on the Antioch Farm and in the classroom. Looking back on my Antioch Farm co-op, last spring, I realize how much I have grown as a person and as a student interested in herbal medicine for one’s well-being.

While working on the farm, I learned about the basic methods of organic farming and sustainable agriculture. After three months, I was given the opportunity, much to my delight, to be the community herb dryer on campus. My job is to harvest and dry herbs that are grown on the farm and deliver them to the dining halls where students can have access to locally grown, organic herbal tea.

During my most recent co-op last winter with a local herbalist, I was able to study the medicinal properties of herbs and learn about the various methods of preparing herbal remedies. I also learned about herbal remedies during my Global Seminar in Health class where my final project focused on making herbal medicine.

The medicinal and culinary herbs grown on the Antioch Farm include spearmint, peppermint, catnip, dandelion, echinacea, valerian, stinging nettle, yarrow, thyme, oregano, raspberry leaf, comfrey, and wormwood. Most of these medicinal herbs are useful for aiding the nervous, digestive or immune systems of the body.

Many herbs have medicinal value

Here is a list of some selected herbs and their medicinal properties:

  • Spearmint and peppermint are digestive aids and help relieve stress.
  • Dandelion helps eliminate toxins from the body.
  • Stinging nettle relieves allergies and builds healthy blood due to its high iron content.
  • Catnip helps to relieve pain and stress and acts as a mild sedative.
  • Echinacea helps to build a healthy immune system.
  • Comfrey and wormwood are especially useful for animals so it is helpful to have them growing on the farm if the sheep encounter ailments.

As a student and lover of nature, I am especially interested in herbal medicine because it benefits both the body and Earth. Using herbal remedies, such as teas, tinctures, infusions, and topical herbal treatments, is a great way to help heal your body and avoid the harsh chemicals found in many commercial products. And as long as we make sure to replenish what we take from Earth, a mutual respect and balance is maintained.

With spring continuing to flourish on the Antioch Farm, I look forward to a new quarter of growing as a student, and assisting the Antioch community with its herbal healing needs.

Editor’s note: This recipe came from National Public Radio, which posted it as part of a story about the soaring cost of pine nuts, which are the nuts traditionally used in pesto. I’ve tried this recipe, and it was delicious. The basil flavor is so strong that it was hard to tell the difference between this and tradition pine nut pesto.


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