Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Permaculture Project Milwaukee

This past weekend the weather was anything but perfect but it was the best forecast for any of days preceeding it or following it, so we committed to putting the permaculture project into place. First, an explanation on the meaning of permaculture. Most people associate the term garden with rows that they grow food on. However, that is not the way a normal ecosystem would grow so permaculture incorporates random and circular planting as well as pairing plants together that support each other. The definition of permaculture is "The development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient." Since I'm all about self-sufficiency, permaculture is truly the way to go.

The day began at 10:00 am in the morning with the arrival of volunteers from the Victory Garden Initiative. Young, enthusiastic and energetic, they dove in with shovels to create a spiral design with paths that led to a large circular herb spiral. We heaped rotting wood debris atop composting material in the center which will be where we will be planting our herbs. Each pie shaped piece leading into the herb spiral will feature a variety of edibles and medicinal plants. After creating the permaculture shape, it was time to plant a few of the medicinals which included comfrey, mullein, st. john's wort, bee balm, lavender, and feverfew to name a few. I'll also try to coax plantain and yarrow into the design as these are two of my favorite medicinals. I make healing salves so the medicinals are an important piece of my business.

It was a lot of work but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it! Thank you Victory Garden Initiative!!!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Women's Outdoor Survival Class

The Women's Outdoor Survival Class was a great mix of ladies. The youngest was 8 years old and her mom was a fellow graduate of UW Stevens Point. We also enjoyed perfect weather throughout the day long workshop.

We started the day out talking about medicinal and edible plants and then broke off into pairs to learn to identify the plants in the field. After that we headed into the prairie area of Grobschmidt woods to talk about finding and collecting proper tinder to start a fire. With six people gathering dead grass and cattail fluff, the task was finished in no time at all.

We then headed into the woods and bushwacked into a wetland area in order to gather straight, tall grass that was perfect for making cordage. We took the grass back to a tree that had fallen over and sat down while I taught how to weave the grass strands into rope. Those closest to me taught the others further away and in no time at all, everyone had weaved about a foot of cordage that was strong enough to use to lash together some wood. With that knowledge we breaked for lunch of bannock bread with foraged dandelion heads and a quick stew. There was an additional home prepared meal for a few gluten free members of the group.

After lunch we learned how to build a debris hut and as the day was drawing to a close we headed back out of the park to sit in the shade while I taught how to make a healing salve using the medicinal plants I had taught at the beginning of class.

An incredibly fun group of ladies made for a perfect day! I love my job!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stinging Nettle Article from Natural Awakenings

I'm creating a link to an article I wrote for the Natural Awakenings magazine that is published in Milwaukee. The article discusses identification and uses for a plant you will find throughout Wisconsin that most people have had some experience with called Stinging Nettle.

To read the article, click here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Resiliency Training Becomes Girlscout Community Event Provider

Resiliency Training has now partnered with the SE Wisconsin Girlscouts to provide outdoor  opportunities geared towards gaining Adventure Badges for the various age groups. Courses have been created just for Brownie Hikers, Junior Campers and Cadette Trailblazers. Troop leaders can contact Resiliency Training to set up programming for their troops and learn new skills such as trail map reading, using a compass, identifying edible food sources, quick camp knots, make a survival shelter and how to make a quick start matchless fire.

Under the Environmental Badge categorey, Resiliency Training created a program for Junior Flowers and Cadette Trees. In these courses, girlscouts will learn the science behind flower and tree parts and how they work as well as some amazing benefits both provide.

These courses are designed for troop members to earn a badge in the categories listed above.

To learn more and see these programs in detail, go to the SE Wisconsin Girlscouts webpage here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Time Has Arrived to Pick Burdock Root!

Now is the time to start looking for the first year burdock plant. Many people are familiar with the burdock in it's second year when it shoots into a tall, woody plant and sports the velcro-like burrs that stick to everything. Look for last year's growth that will probably still have some of those burrs. When you look around that plant and low to the ground, you will see the beginnings of what is to come. The leaves will remind you of rhubarb but look closely at the back of the leaf and you will see that it is white. It almost looks like a fine spiderweb has covered the whole backside. But it isn't the leaf that you will want to forage. Grab a shovel and prepare to dig deep because you are after the root which can go several feet into the ground. Luckily it usually growns straight down which will help in collecting it.

The burdock is a tremendously powerful plant and has been used for many purposes since ancient times. Among its attributes you will find that it is used to de-toxify the body, a diuretic and can be used topically for a variety of skin problems such as eczema, acne and psoriasis. Burdock also contains inulin, which helps control blood sugar levels. This a great plant to have around!

I have collected a bunch so far this season and have canned it so I have it for months to come and have prepared it as a tea so I can drink it daily. The burdock root is easy to prepare. Simply clean the root and peel it much like you would a potato. The root will be a beautiful white that will quickly brown in the air. I chop it quickly and drop it into a cold bath of water. You can save a few pieces to make tea. Simply chop the root into 2 inch sections and quarter those length-wise. One two inch piece chopped into four pieces can be added to 2 cups of boiling water. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes then take off the burner and sit for 20 minutes. You will notice the water will turn blue. The taste is quite pleasant if you like potatoes. You can reuse your pieces until you notice the water no longer turns blue.