A Nourishing Harvest (Sweet Flag Herbs)

is creating free articles about toxin-informed gardening and foraging

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Partridgeberry
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$2
per month
Thank you for your membership and support!

Your admission is covered for a virtual edible & medicinal plant walk! The 2020 exclusive video will be posted right here in June.

I appreciate your help in making A Nourishing Harvest free and public!
Nettle Leaf
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$4
per month
Thanks for your support in making A Nourishing Harvest free and public!  So grateful you're a part of this community.

1.)  You'll receive a hand-written thank you card and 4-6 herb seed packets at the end of the harvest season each year.

2.) Your admission is covered for a virtual edible & medicinal plant walk! The 2020 exclusive video will be posted right here in June.
St. John's Wort
reward item
$8
per month
Your membership makes a huge difference. Thank you! 

You'll receive the following each year:

1.) A hand-written thank you card and 4-6 herb seed packets at the end of the harvest season.

2.) Your admission is covered for a virtual edible & medicinal plant walk! The 2020 exclusive video will be posted right here in June.

2.) Receive a care package of 4 herbal teas in the mail.

 Thanks for your support in making A Nourishing Harvest free and public!  

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About

A Nourishing Harvest offers 2-3 articles per month that support the safe, toxin-informed harvest of food and herbs for gardeners and foragers. All articles are now free and public!

Though this information is widely applicable, case studies center in New York State, particularly the Buffalo area.

While teaching classes about growing herbs/veggies and foraging, I have received many questions about how contamination affects the safety of these activities. Questions explored in A Nourishing Harvest relate to the following themes:

1.) Safe gardening and foraging in lawns & private property:
My lawn hasn't been sprayed in 3 years. Is it safe to grow food there?
I live in the city and can't harvest from the contaminated soil. Is this potting soil brand really safe to use for food + medicine?
I live 1/2 mile from a corn or grape farm. How much of the spray is getting onto my property? Where do local landscaping companies get their topsoil from? How can I know it's safe?
Which parts of the plant do lawn chemicals concentrate in? Is the fruit safer than the roots?
And more.

2.) Guidance about legal and safe wild foraging in western NY's public spaces. 
Each time I've spoken with park management staff in my area, I've found that when the intentions of foragers and groundskeepers align, foraging may be allowed--even if the rules state that it isn't. When invasives or weeds are being removed, there is great potential for partnership between foragers and parks.

Where is harvesting allowed? What is the history of land use in that park?
Is that pretty hill an old garbage dump? Was that recent planting of trees a cornfield routinely sprayed with DDT?
What are the pest/invasive management practices like?
How can the public access herbicide/pesticide application records to know whether that invasive garlic mustard is safe to harvest for pesto?
And more.

Since I encourage hundreds of students each year to eat wild "weeds" and grow their own medicine, these questions are important to answer as best I can. I searched for gardening books that address safely growing food in our chemical-laden country, and didn't come up with much. Online articles address gardening safely around heavy metals in the soil-- but what about other chemicals from landscaping, ag applications, and more? I'm excited to learn more from journal articles, interviews with experts, and hopefully testing local soils if funds allow.

* * * * * * * * * *
As a health practitioner with a background in environmental studies, I often reflect on the disconnect between the wellness community and environmental justice/public health. On one hand, it is important to own our power over our own wellbeing. Mindfulness, whole/local foods, movement and getting outdoors, managing stress, and positive relationships play a huge role. And in a capitalist society, a dollar can be a vote for a more just and sustainable culture.

On the other hand, Americans live in a nation where regulations favor corporate profit over citizens' well-being. We experience daily exposure to toxic chemicals in our lawns, food, water, air, and home products. Communities of color and low-income individuals are most affected by environmental health risks, but have the least access to resources that support wellness and political action.

I believe that a health culture focusing solely on personal responsibility, while ignoring the social and environmental factors that affect us all, is missing the mark. It is a reflection of our increasingly individualistic society-- a society that ranks pretty low in Gross National Happiness. Addressing environmental risks is not only vital for improving physical health; working together as a community to resolve shared issues helps us to feel more connected, and more fulfilled.

I believe that environmental sustainability requires an intimate relationship with our local ecosystem. Cultures that rely on local plants for food and medicine have a vested interest in the vibrancy of those species, and are much more likely to notice changes and issues that arise. In order for us to safely rely on plants in our local community, we must have access to information about the safety of soils in our gardens and public spaces.
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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 1 exclusive post
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