Food, Gardens, Plants

Native foods including rare strains of corn, beans and squash making a comeback

Life & Soul Magazine

Native foods – including rare strains of corn, beans, and squash – are being brought back from extinction thanks to the preservation and conservation efforts of indigenous tribes and a seed-lending library.

Members of the Potawatomi and Ojibwe tribes in Hopkins, Michigan have teamed up with the Jijak Foundation to help these rare strains of vegetables make a comeback. These vegetables are now being used in traditional ceremonies.

In Hopkins, Michigan, Native Americans of the Pottawatomi and Ojibwe tribes are bringing rare strains of vegetables back from the dead.

Farmers are receiving help from the Jijak Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonprofit organisation of the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians dedicated to enriching our community through education, preservation, and perpetuation of our Tribe’s rich culture, arts, history, and living traditions”. The foundation’s seed-lending library is at the centre of the comeback story. Tribes around the Great Lakes region are…

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Gardens, Plants, Ritual tools, Spiritual Toolbox

Druidry for the 21st Century: Plant-Based Spiritual Supplies and Global Demand

The Druid's Garden

Can you even imagine druidry without plants or trees?  Plants and trees are some of our strongest allies for the work that we do, and are often connected to almost everything that we do spiritually. Plant spirits are teachers, guides, and allies.  From before we had recorded history in any culture, the plant spirits were there, growing with us, guiding us, healing us, and supporting us on our journey. Today’s modern druid practice continues that tradition: we burn plants for smoke cleansing, clearing, and helping to energize spaces. We use trees as part of divination and sacred rites. We use plants as healers, for magical healing and physical healing, and to connect with on deep levels.  Plants have long been friends of humans–and have long walked beside us, hand in hand, as we do our sacred work.  And today, we’ll explore ways we can offer that same kind of honor…

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Gardens, Plants, Wild Foodism

Medicinal and Culinary Uses for the Shy Violet

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

While violets’ delicate blossoms are a treat only for the observant, the plant has enjoyed a long history of medicinal and culinary use.

Leigh Hunt, an English Romantic essayist, and poet is the first known author of the phrase “shrinking violet.” In 1820, he published a passage describing a bit of woodland in The Indicator, a poetry magazine: “There was the buttercup, struggling from a white to a dirty yellow; and a faint-colored poppy; and here and there by the thorny underwood a shrinking violet.”

Hunt was almost certainly referring to the native English, or sweet, violet (Viola odorata). This shy plant can often go unremarked underfoot, and it carries its small, slightly recurved flowers level with or just below its leaves. The phrase “shrinking violet” took a few decades to catch on — but when it did, it spread rapidly, much as its parent plant does…

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Gardens, Spiritual Toolbox

The Druid’s Garden: Principles of Sacred Gardening

The Druid's Garden

Part of my own Druid's Garden! Part of my own Druid’s Garden!

One of the greatest blessings of gardening and growing things is the deep energetic connections that you can develop with plants. When I grow a pepper in my garden, I have developed a relationship with that plant from the time I planted the seed in February, where I tend it and keep it sheltered from the winter weather, to the planting and mulching of that small pepper in late May. This relationship continues as I nurture it into maturity throughout the summer, where flowers and the actual peppers start to emerge. I monitor that pepper plant for insects and disease and do what I can to ensure its success. Finally, I watch the peppers grow large and fat in the heat of the summer. At that point, I have an eight-month relationship with that pepper plant. When I eat the pepper in late August, I know…

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Food, Plants

Svalbard Global Seed Vault: The “Noah’s Ark of Plant Diversity” protecting the world’s seed resources

Life & Soul Magazine

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, otherwise known as the “Noah’s Ark of Plant Diversity”, is home to what is quite possibly the world’s most important treasures – seeds.

Deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, lies the Global Seed Vault. The Global Seed Vault isn’t just a large storage facility for seeds from around the world, but it is protecting the world’s agricultural genetic diversity and protecting future food supply in case of built to stand the test of time and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.

The Svalbard archipelago, the furthest north reachable on a scheduled flight, was chosen for the vault’s location because it is remote, there are no volcanoes or earthquakes, and the permafrost keeps the seeds in deep-freeze. Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s remote location is 130 metres above sea level, and benefits from permafrost…

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Gardens, Herbals, Odds & Ends

Let Spring Begin…

Good Witches Homestead

Spring is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts.  It’s a time to let go of old habits, get rid of old or unwanted things, and give yourself a new start in life. Whether you’re looking to do a deep cleaning of your house or health, we’ve got the natural products to help you do it.

So, what are you waiting for? Take advantage of this time of year to enjoy the simple things in life and take the first steps towards a new you!

Good until 3/04/2019

A Little Something Worth Trying

Forest Fresh Diffuser Blend

Step in to spring and warmer weather with this diffuser blend. It’ll have you wanting to head out to green mountainsides for a spring picnic!

Spring Vernal Equinox

Date When: March 20, 2019; March 20, 2020

Ah, Spring! A time when “a…

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Food, Gardens, Plants

The Bee Friendly Trust transforming station platforms into habitats for honeybees to thrive

Life & Soul Magazine

The Bee Friendly Trust is transforming railway station platforms and other neglected sites in the UK into forage-full habitats in which honey bees and other pollinators can thrive.

The Bee Friendly Trust works with railway authorities, volunteers and schools to provide a network of flowering habitats for honeybees. They build planters and create mini orchards on railway station platforms, solar farms and other land – filling the planters with bee-friendly flowers to form pollinator corridors across urban centres and beyond.

Honeybee numbers have been steadily declining in the UK, mainly due to habitat loss, climate change, toxic pesticides and disease. Yet without them, around a third of the food people eat wouldn’t exist.

The Bee Friendly Trust say: “We want to create a world where honeybees and other pollinators have the habitats they need in order to thrive, and in which individuals and communities feel inspired and empowered to nurture…

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Herbals, Plants

Little Lavenders in the Landscape

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

As spring approaches we get anxious to start planting our garden!  In March, we have time to plan which lavenders we want to add or replace in our garden.  In late March and into April and May, after the weather and the ground have warmed up, we can usually tell which lavenders need to be replaced. After we do spring garden pruning and clean up, we have a better idea of how much space we have to plant.  There are also more lavender plants available from local growers at that time of the year.
English lavenders, Lavandula angustifolia cultivars, are the hardiest lavender plants to grow, but eventually, they do need to be replaced with new plants.  Some lavender plants that are over 10 to 15 years old are very woody and parts of these plants may no longer produce new leaves or flowers. As long as a garden space…

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Food, Gardens

Ryerson Urban Farm: Student-led rooftop farm creating opportunities to learn about growing food

Life & Soul Magazine

Students from Ryerson University in Toronto have converted a green roof on campus into an urban rooftop farm.

Ryerson Urban Farm began as a student initiative with the mission to grow food on campus and create opportunities for people to learn about growing food.

The urban farm aims to build capacity for rooftop farming through production, education and research. It also operates productive growing spaces across the Ryerson University campus using spray-free, ecological methods

The students sell the produce at a farmer’s market, to CSA (community supported agriculture) customers, and they give some to the campus food room, which is a place where students can have access to free food.

Ryerson Urban Farm is designed in the market garden tradition, with over 50 crops and more than 100 cultivars, along with three rooftop bee hives.

In addition to growing food on the rooftop, Ryerson Urban Farm also have a variety of…

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Gardens, Plants

Seed Libraries where library members can “borrow” fruit and veg seeds for free

Life & Soul Magazine

Public libraries across the US are offering library members free fruit and vegetable seeds to promote sustainability.

Known as seed libraries, these collections of complimentary seed packets are being made available in hundreds of libraries across the country. While some institutions simply give the packets away to library card holders, others allow them to be “checked out” with the understanding that the seeds of any future plants will be returned to the library.

A seed library is a place where community members can get seeds for free or for a nominal fee and is run for the public benefit. Many seed libraries are open in public libraries and community centres, and are run by nonprofits, clubs, or school groups.

The Seed Library Social Network, an online resource for anyone wanting to set up their own seed library, said: “For some communities, getting folks to garden and grow some of their own food…

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