Friends of Forest Farming

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

As armies of amateur wildcrafters pluck Appalachian ginseng, goldenseal, and other medicinal herbs to near extinction, a coalition of universities, nonprofits, and “forest farmers” are working on a solution that will not only help preserve these wild herbs but also prevent supplement adulteration.

The Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition includes Virginia Tech, Penn State, and North Carolina State University; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and other government organizations; nonprofits like United Plant Savers and the Blue Ridge Woodland Growers; and Appalachian landowners and farmers. Together, these entities are developing a model called “forest farming” for cultivating traditionally wildcrafted herbs, including black cohosh {Actaea racemosa}, goldenseal {Hydrastis canadensis}, bloodroot {Sanguinaria canadensis}, ginseng {Panaxquinquefolius}, blue cohosh {Caulophyllum thalictroides}, stoneroot {Collinsoniacanadensis}, wild yam {Dioscorea villosa}, and wild indigo {Baptisia tinctoria}.

During…

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Pantry Profile: Basil {Ocimum basilicum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Bright green, tall, and aromatic, basil is a beauty. An ancient plant with a long history and strange folklore, its sweet, peppery flavor has been used for centuries in cuisine and medicine.

Basil is native to Africa and Southeast Asia and was eventually cultivated in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Roman scholar Pliny the Elder described basil’s {now well-known} benefits as a carminative and digestive, explaining its effectiveness in relieving flatulence, colic, and nausea. It also has a long history of use for coughs associated with colds, and the leaves were routinely used topically as an insect repellent and poultice to relieve bug bites and stings.

Much myth and legend surrounded this plant we now consider a simple culinary herb. The ancient Egyptians believed basil would entice the god Osiris to open the gates of the afterlife. In his book the English Physician Enlarged, 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper…

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Pantry Profile: Chives {Allium schoenoprasum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

With its bright green stalks and vibrant, lavender-pink and spiky blossoms, chives are a lovely ornamental plant and herb garden staple. Found fresh in the yard in summer and dried in cupboards in the cooler months of fall and winter, chives hold surprising medicinal and nutritional benefits. A member of the Amaryllidaceae family {Amaryllis}, which includes familiar alliums garlic and onions, chives have a mild and pleasant onion-garlic flavor.

Chives have played a role in medicine and protection for more than 5,000 years. The ancient Romans used chives to relieve sore throats, lower blood pressure, and increase urination, while Traditional Chinese Medicine turned to it for coughs, colds, and congestion. In the Middle Ages, it was a popular remedy for melancholy.

A traditional Romani custom was to use chives in fortune telling and to hang them in the home to ward off disease and evil influences. Planting chives in the…

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Remembering Who We Are: Chinese Botanical Guides

Remembering Who We Are …

Ancestral Apothecary

Bekah gets to know the plants of her grandmother’s village in Guangdong, China.

As part of our studies in the Cecemmana program, we as students are encouraged to study our ancestral medicines. We are encouraged to ask questions like: who were the healers in our families? What plant medicine did they use? What healing foods did they eat? What healing songs did they sing? In the first two years of Cecemmana, we as students researched the answers to these and other questions and then presented our findings. In my first year of Cecemmana, I looked forward to learning more about the herbal medicine practices of my Chinese heritage.

I found that before I could get to know the plants, though, I had to better understand my family. Growing up in a mixed race household in a predominantly white community, my sister and I grew up feeling disconnected from our Chinese…

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The Forager’s: Foraging for Summertime Herbs

The Forager’s: Foraging For Summertime Herbs …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Go beyond the confines of the garden and into the wild to find some of nature’s most valuable medicine.

Summer is the perfect time to stock up on nature’s healing gifts. But all too often we walk right by these treasures, not recognizing them as valuable plants. Learning how to identify and then use a variety of edible and medicinal plants in your region can open up a world of botanicals, not only providing you with access to important medicine but also helping you familiarize yourself with the wilderness that abounds.

Five Rules for Sustainable Foraging

Before you head out into the fields and forests to harvest plants, you need to know a bit about foraging ethics, as well as the dangers that certain plants can pose. In an environmentally fragile world, you want to proceed without taking from nature in ways that are harmful.

  1. Properly identify the plant

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Getting to Know Lyre-Leaf Sage

Getting to know Lyre-leaf Sage …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Having fallen into disuse, this North American species is making a comeback thanks to some notable herbalists and a nod from the Herb Society of America.

Graceful, light-blue wildflowers border the roads and cover swaths of meadows in periwinkle, from the Mid-Atlantic to Missouri and from Florida to Texas. Known as “just a roadside weed” or invasive species, lyre-leaf sage has a lengthy history. A much-valued wild edible and medicinal plant of indigenous people, and a time-honored remedy in the southern folk traditions, this North American sage has been chosen by the Herb Society of America as the Notable Native Herb of 2018.

lyre leaf sage

Lyrata in the Garden

A beautiful, wild, flowering plant, lyre-leaf sage {Salvia lyrata} is part of the Lamiaceae {mint} family along with rosemary and oregano, and it’s closely related to garden sage {Salvia officinalsi}.

The only sage native to the United States, it has reportedly grown as…

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Elder Mountain’s Folk Smudge – Autumn 2018

Elder Mountain’s Folk Smudge …

Elder Mountain Dreaming @ gmail

Our Seasonal Autumn Smudge will be available mid-September through December (because it sells fast). Our formula here at Elder Mountain is locally hand collected and dried seasonally all summer in small batches. Each bag of nature’s natural herbs and wild flowers have been hand picked in the mountains, on our land and on hikes, cured and dried to enrich your prayer rites, altar work, clearing negativity in spaces, dreaming purification smudges or your magical soul. Each one is Water and Moon Charmed in the Slavic Tradition on the full moon for a little extra energy.

Each year we have different offerings,
depending upon the season of collecting:

1 Folk Smudge
2 Smudge Sticks
3 Raspberry and Blackberry Smudge Sticks.

hollyhocks at elder mountain dreaming

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AVAILABLE while the batches lasts and you can pre-order early if you wish.

1. LOOSE LEAF Folk Smudge $10 each (7×7 ziplock bag) + shipping.
     Ingredients listed in…

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Scientists Discover How Chinese Medicinal Plant Makes Anti-Cancer Compound

Chinese Medicinal Plant Makes Anti-Cancer Compound …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

New research led by Professor Cathie Martin of the John Innes Centre has revealed how a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine produces compounds which may help to treat cancer and liver diseases.

The Chinese skullcap, Scutellaria baicalensis – otherwise known in Chinese medicine as Huang-Qin – is traditionally used as a treatment for fever, liver and lung complaints.

Scutellaria flower

Previous research on cells cultured in the lab has shown that certain compounds called flavones, found in the roots of this plant, not only have beneficial anti-viral and antioxidant effects, but they can also kill human cancers while leaving healthy cells untouched. In live animal models, these flavones have also halted tumor growth, offering hope that they may one day lead to effective cancer treatments or even cures.

As a group of compounds, the flavones are relatively well understood. But the beneficial flavones found in Huang-Qin roots, such as…

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Summer Herbs: Feverfew {Tanacetum parthenium}

Summer Herbs: Feverfew …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Bride’s Button
  • Compositae
  • Featherfew
  • Featherfoil
  • Febrifuge Plant
  • Feverfew
  • Wild Chamomile

The feverfew herb has been used as an herbal remedy since the time of Dioscorides-78 A.D. The herbal remedies made from the feverfew was used to treat problems such as a headache, the development of menstrual irregularities in women, disorders such as stomachaches, and all types of fevers in particular. The common name of the herb itself is a simple corruption of the name in Latin- febrifuge or the fever reducer. Botanist is still agreed about what proper scientific name to give to this strongly aromatic and perennial herb. The feverfew belongs to the plant family Asteraceae, the disagreement among botanists about naming the plant has been existing for a long time now. The feverfew was in fact, placed into five different genera at different times. At this present time, the herb is known by the botanical name Tanacetum parthenium…

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6 Bug Repellent Patio Plants

Six Bug Repellent Patio Plants …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

We love to spend our summer days outside with family and friends, but pesky bugs are quick to drive a party indoors. For a chemical-free way to keep insects at bay this season, we asked the experts from our green goods team to recommend their favorite bug repellent plants. Planted near the doorway or transformed into essential oils, these six natural options deter mosquitoes, flies, and more uninvited guests in the summer garden.

1. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Like many members of the mint family, this herb provides protection against summertime mosquitoes. To make a quick, all-natural bug repellent, crush a handful of lemon balm leaves and rub onto any exposed skin. If you’ve already suffered a bug bite, its soothing oils can limit itching as well. This easy-to-grow herb also has a number of additional applications, from infused teas and vinegar to green salads.

2. Ageratum ‘Artist…

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