Sunday, December 03, 2017

GRATITUDE2017: 25% off SALE at Homestead Herbals this month

We are offering a special sale at Homestead Herbals this month, in gratitude for the support we have seen from our friends, family and customers this year.  Thank you for supporting the work of Little City Farm and our herbal project Homestead Herbals (where we make natural soaps, herbal remedies, salves, bitters and more using organic and wild-harvested herbs, many from our own property!)

We are offering 25% off everything in the Homestead Herbals shop, until December 23!  This sale applies to Canadian customers only (sorry, right now we are only able to ship in Canada).

Use the coupon code: GRATITUDE2017
to receive 25% off your entire purchase
(AND for local orders we will refund you shipping charges if you wish to pick up in person)!

This is the time to stock up on our popular calendula salve, calendula soap, post-partum bath herbs, baby bath herbs, healing balms, and other natural soaps.  Also, in our shop you'll find new varieties of soaps, new salves, elderberry syrup, elixirs, herbal chai blend, unscented herbal deodorants, herbal first aid kits, digestive bitters, shrubs (sipping vinegars), tea blends, and more!

Mother-Daughter Herbal Immersion wrap-up

Can we believe that these flowers were picked only a few weeks ago?  This fall has extended itself on and on this year.  

These photos were from one of our final sessions in the Mother-Daughter Herbal Immersion group, where each family created their own botanical artwork by "framing" herbs and flowers from the garden which we had been using in our classes.  The group met once a week through the fall to explore herbs, learning plant history and folklore, medicine-making, wild-harvesting, documentation, and building relationships with these beautiful healing plants through story, botanical journalling, and hands-on projects.  

This Mother-Daughter group is wrapping up now for the winter, but will be offered again in Spring 2018 (starting in April).  We'll be working with one herb/wild plant each week including violet, chickweed, nettle, mallow and dandelion!  The group is small, 4-5 families can participate, with the girls being aged 7+.  More information will be posted here.

Handmade Holiday Sale - what a day!

Thanks to everyone who came out to our annual Eco Handmade Holiday Sale.  It was the 10th year that we've hosted it here at Little City Farm, and I think each year it gets a little bit better.  The weather was perfect for an outdoor event, the crowd was friendly and so supportive, the vendors were wonderful.   Happy December to you all!  Thanks for supporting local and handmade!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Eco Handmade Holiday Sale, Dec 2 from 11 am-3 pm at Little City Farm

Join us for the 10th Annual
A little bird told me...
Eco Handmade Holiday Sale here at Little City Farm
Sat, Dec 2 from 11 am-3 pm

Find holiday gifts made with mindful ingredients, upcycled charm, or natural materials.  For the eco-conscious gift giver or gift recipient!

The "A little bird told me..." handmade sale features unique handmade items from 10 local artisans/crafters/bakers. Including organic baked treats, raw chocolate, woolen slippers, pure beeswax candles, functional pottery, wearable art & jewelry from reclaimed wood, natural soaps, herbal salves & oils, herbal drinks and elixirs, sourdough breads, artisan pies, woolen felted toys, children's items and more!  Read all about our vendors here.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Whole Plant Echinacea Tincture

For the past few weeks I have been in awe of the bees in our garden.  The flowers are at their peak, and bees are simply everywhere, bees of every description.  We have seen mason bees, sweat bees, bumble bees, small wild bees, honeybees, squash bees, and many more varieties that I am not yet familiar with.  It feels good to be able to provide this host site for so many foragers, and see them buzzing around with gorgeous pollen on their legs!  Did you know that some bees, such as bumble bees and honeybees, have pollen "baskets", or corbicula, on their hind legs to carry the pollen back to the hive?  You can spot it when the baskets are full, sometimes with yellow, blue, purple or pink pollen, depending what flowers they have been visiting.  Amazing!

When making my whole plant echinacea tincture, it was a beautiful start to see the bees covering the echinacea patch when I went to harvest my flowers and leaves.  I knew this was going to be a potent tincture, ready in time for our family to use this winter.  Just look at the rich yellow pollen in that first photo of the echinacea flower.

How & why to make a whole plant tincture?
Tinctures are plant extracts, commonly made of leaves, flowers, roots or berries, steeping in food grade alcohol such as vodka or brandy.  Raw apple cider vinegar can also be used, but does not provide as long a shelf life for the tincture as the alcohol.  An alcohol tincture, if properly prepared and stored, can keep for many years.

Traditionally tinctures are made by steeping the fresh or dried plant material in a clean glass mason jar, covered by at least 1-2 inches of liquid (aka. the "menstruum") so that the plant material stays submerged at all times during the steeping period.  Steeping, or infusing, takes a minimum of 2 weeks, and better yet upto 6-8 weeks.  Then the plant material is strained, and the liquid reserved - that is now your finished tincture.  Bottle (ideally in a dark glass bottle), label, and store in a cool dark location until time of use.  Tinctures are taken by the droperful, in a glass of water.  They are ideal for preserving herbs such as echinacea, which can be used for boosting the immune system and warding off winter colds and flu.

Whole plant tinctures are ones made with not only one part of the plant (e.g. the leaves, or the flowers, or the roots), but the entire plant.  They create the most potent tinctures available, as they make use of all aspects of the plant's medicinal qualities.  The various parts are harvested for the tincture throughout the growing season, when they are at their peak, and then discarded after the infusing period is finished.  For example, the leaves are harvested just before flowers are budding on the plant.  Then the leaves are strained out of the tincture, and the flowers are added just as they have opened.  Then the flowers are strained out of the tincture after they have infused for the necessary period, and next the echinacea roots added.  Roots are usually harvested in the fall, after the flowers of the plant have died back.  So for making this whole plant tincture, echinacea is the perfect plant to experiment with and makes a potent tincture every time.  It takes some attention to make a whole plant tincture, as you need to follow the process throughout the growing season, but the effort is well worth the finished result.

Whole Plant Echinacea Tincture*
Yields: aprox. 6-8 ounces of finished tincture

You will need:
1 clean glass mason jar (250 ml) and lid
fresh echinacea leaves (handful, chopped)
fresh echinacea flowers (3-4 flower heads, whole)
fresh echinacea roots (handful, chopped)
vodka or brandy (food grade)

1) Fill jar with fresh echinacea leaves that are harvested from the plants before the flowers have formed.
2) Add vodka to within 1-2 inches above the plant material.  Make sure plant material is covered completely by alcohol through the whole steeping time.  This is important, otherwise you risk mold growing and ruining your tincture.
3) Label the jar with ingredients, location of harvest, date.
3) Let steep in a cool dark location for at least 2 weeks, preferable 4-6 weeks.
4) Then strain out the leaves, reserve the liquid.
5) Add echinacea flowers, just as the flowers are fully opening.  Again, cover with at least 1-2 inches of vodka.  Steep as before.
6) Strain out the flowers, and reserve the liquid.
7) Finally, add chopped up fresh echinacea roots, that are harvested after the flowers have died back from the plants in the fall.  Use roots from plants that are at least 3 years old.
8) Steep again, covered by at least 1-2 inches of vodka, for at least 2 weeks.
9) Then strain out the roots, and reserve the liquid.
10) Bottle into dark glass bottles with tight fitting lids.  Label and date.  Store in a cool, dark location until time of use.  This tincture should keep for at least 1-2 years if prepared and stored properly.

* a little tip, to make the most potent tincture, always harvest from several of the most healthy looking plants in your garden, rather than from one plant only, and infuse with love and good intention