Spring updates from the farm

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I apologize.  It’s been awhile.

Spring is always this crescendo of activity and energy that can feel overwhelming at times.  There’s so much momentum, growth, doing.

Add to that a family illness nearing its end, a stay in the hospital with little LF, typical spring farm growth, and you have a tiny piece of the puzzle explaining my absence.

However, we’ve still had so much going on around here.  We manage to squeeze projects into any spare moments we can find.

I’d love to share some glimmers of our life around the farm with you!

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The Time of Imbolc is Here!

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For most of us reading this, we are generations removed from a truly meaningful connection with the land. Gone are the days where stocking a larder meant the difference between life and death. We no longer spend long hours huddled around the hearth, connected to the flame for vital warmth throughout long winter days.

We are no longer wondering if there is enough food and fire to ensure the elders, infants, and breastfeeding mothers can make it through the final months of cold, dark, winter.

For these reasons (and more), we have lost touch with the spirit of this season. We no longer remember why this day (February 1st or 2nd depending on the year) is a time for pause, a time to celebrate, and a time to rejoice.

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Win a Winter Wellness Box! Celebrate Imbolc!

Photo by Joanna Powell Colbert

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I’m so happy to share our updated main page for our farm and small business.  It’s a great launching place for people to find this blog, my shop, and learn about upcoming classes.  Please check it out and let me know what you think!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win one of the last Winter Wellness Boxes that remain.  (In general, there are very few left, so if you’d like to try one, learn more here.)

If you’d like to try to win one (why not?!), just follow this link to my Facebook page and leave a comment on the pinned post at the top.  I’ll be choosing a winner tomorrow (Wednesday, January 27).

Also, we’ll be having a gathering to celebrate the Earth-based holiday of Imbolc at our farm this Saturday.

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Photo by Joanna Powell Colbert

Imbolc is the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.  For our ancestors, this would have been a time of great celebration as the signs that spring would indeed return begin to show up now — baby lambs are born, snowdrops might poke their heads up from the snow, and the days are starting to get noticeably longer.

We’ll be discussing the history of Imbolc while doing some traditional crafts and eating seasonal snacks.  I’d like to use this time to gather feedback from the community to see how we can continue celebrating the Wheel of the Year in the future.

Let me know if you can come on this events page.  I hope to see you there!

You can also read what I wrote about Imbolc in a past blog post.

 

Reflections from a WWOOFer

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Madeleine Zimmermann / Allegheny  College Env. Science + Studio Art / Class of 2018

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,or the birds in the sky,
and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.” [Job 12:7-8]

“Madeleine, have you ever heard of WWOOFing? Makenzie and I want to go to the Southwest over winter break and WWOOF.”

It was early September and I was sitting around a table with some friends at our student-run coffee shop. I was plunging my tea leaves in and out of my hot water. I had never heard of WWOOFing and I didn’t have nearly enough money to travel to the southwest over break but later that night I went back to my house and pulled up the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms site for the United States.

Three months later and I was packing up a suitcase with a ten days’ worth of clothes. Within those three months I had overcome a stripping case of pneumonia, the death of two of my friends, and the long list of struggles that came with my dad losing his job after 20 years. I was in much need of spiritual rejuvenation.

Driving to Chardon, Ohio was more than a cosmic coincidence. My grandmother lived in a town over and for the first time since her passing in 2011, I drove by the exit to Chesterland. Continuing on to Light Footsteps Farm, I passed the same Marc’s in Chardon she loved to go to every weekend that we visited. It was at that moment that I realized that this was a homecoming for my soul.

After over a week of Michael and Christine sharing their home with me I’ve been given some time to reflect on my experience. In that time I have cleared paths and planted trees. I have butted heads with societal ideologies (metaphorically) and hungry goats (literally). I have witnessed the healing power of the earth in the jars on Christine’s shelves and sun that warms new life. In that time Michael and Christine have shared their honest opinions and advice on everything broad to specific: from general medicine to geriatric health care, childbirth, and vaccinations. They have shown me what it means to be a pioneering family wrestling to spread knowledge and heal the earth while still being genuine. Christine has taught me how to find empowerment in my womanhood, how to establish internal affirmation even when societal norms plant doubts and fears, and how to fearlessly be a caretaker. Michael has taught me how to question reality while still being confident in who I am and my place within the environmental community, and how to be an expert learner above all else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once defined a weed as “a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” Spending time with a family who is building their lifestyle around permaculture, I’ve been able to find virtue in every living thing, and even do the same for the “weeds” in my life.

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Mui Mui and Lucky brush noses


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Scooby watches the snow fall from inside the warmth of the barn

 

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the morning sun glowing from behind the treeline


Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.

Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.


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the snow didn’t last long / Margaret (another WWOOFer) and Cora’s salutation to the sun


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Vincent poses for the camera


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Vincent and Lena wait to go on a walk


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Margaret and Lena


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the chickens scratch through the new straw


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Scooby proves she is civilized enough to get food for herself


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new product photos


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radish sprouts in a tabletop aquaponics system


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goodbye new friends, until next time

 

 Learn more about WWOOF.

 

 

 

Our Year on the Farm – 2015

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I had fully intended to upload these photos to the blog, but mistakenly uploaded them to the main Light Footsteps website. Instead of doing everything all over again, I hope you’ll hop on over to see this post in its entirety – I think you’ll truly be inspired by our 2015 on the farm!
Come join us next year!

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I’ve been taking these last days before the New Year to slow way down, reflect, and dream of what I’d like to manifest in the coming year. After the fast-paced preparation for the holiday season, this time of quiet reflection is essential and has been bringing me a lot of joy.

It makes me wonder — how can I keep this appreciation for quiet reflection alive throughout all of next year?

Today I began going through some of our photos from the year and I have to say: none of the reflecting I’ve done comes close to the way I feel after going through our photos.

Wow –  we have accomplished A LOT.  It’s so hard to realize all that is going on when you’re in the midst of life.  Looking back, I feel such joy at what we manifested this year and the beauty of our life.  I couldn’t…

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Community Herbal Intensive in Northeast Ohio at the Trillium Center

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I have been following the exciting developments at The Trillium Center for some time now so when fellow herbalist Leah Wolfe contacted me and asked if I’d share information about the upcoming Community Herbal Intensive, I quickly said, “Yes!”.  This is sure to be an awesome opportunity for all plant enthusiasts to further their study in a hands-on, community-oriented way.

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The Trillium Center logo

Here’s a little more from Leah:

The Community Herbal Intensive is an educational program for herbalists and other plant lovers who want to make a connection between herbal medicine and community health. The monthly workshops will take participants out into the field to work with plants or into the streets to develop community projects. This program is for anyone interested in furthering their studies of herbal medicine in a hands-on environment while developing skills for creating community projects. The goal of the program is to give participants skills, ideas, and strategies to start community projects that emphasize holistic health, folk medicine, education, gardening, and foraging. They will be introduced to the concepts of public health and liberation theory so herbs, education, and community health can be interwoven into well-planned projects. Get the application to learn more.

You can find the application by visiting this link on The Trillium Center’s website: Why CHI? With link to Application

Gifts from the Heart of Nature & Herb Society Open House

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What a beautiful sunny day we’re having here!  Overall, it has been such a pleasantly mild Autumn that it is hard to believe that the holidays are ahead.  I’m still harvesting some greens and even a few frost-escaping tomatoes from the garden, but somehow Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

15748430319_1332b56ab4_zI’ve attended a few holiday-themed craft shows already, but wanted to make a little announcement for those of you in the area that you can find a few of my favorite products at this year’s Gifts from the Heart of Nature at Holden Arboretum (non-locals, stay tuned, I have something for you, too!).  Thirty of the region’s artists that create nature-inspired works are featured in the lobby of Holden all season.  There are some truly amazing, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind finds there from ceramics to jewelry to fine art (and of course my botanicals!).  The display is open every day from 9 – 5 and until 8:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (check the link above for details on days that they are closed for the holidays).

There will also be a meet-the-artists Ladies Night from 5 – 9 on December 2.

IMG_3339Please come have a look at the Gifts from the Heart of Nature show now through January 3rd.  While you’re there, make sure to take a lovely walk through Holden’s gardens.  They are beautiful all year long!

Another upcoming event where you can find me and learn more about a national herb organization is the Herb Society of America’s open house this Sunday, November 22 from 1:00 – 4:00.

Come do some holiday shopping and learn about the benefits of membership with the Herb Society.  The Herb Society headquarters is located at 9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Kirtland, Ohio 44094.

For those of you who are not local, I don’t mean to leave you out!  You can use the code BLOG10 to get 10% off all orders in my Etsy shop throughout the holiday season (expires December 31, 2015).

Many thanks for your support of our fledgling farm and small business.  The love and attention we have been receiving is so affirming and appreciated!

Autumn Wellness

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Wandering around the yard it’s really starting to look like Autumn. Our big old oak has splotches of orange leaves, the sunflowers are falling over, and animals are scurrying about getting ready for winter.

IMG_1821IMG_0012Autumn is a beloved season by many — there are pumpkin flavored treats, spooky holidays, and the beautiful colors of late blooming wildflowers along with the splendor of changing trees. It is a time to treasure. However, the changing weather can also lead to increased susceptibility to colds, and some blue moods as the days get shorter and cold weather starts creeping in.

IMG_1538IMG_1544This season’s herbal wellness box is designed to help support your enjoyment of autumn’s beauty while also facilitating the inevitable transition to darker and colder days.

A spiced sugar scrub will delight your senses and leave you reveling in the joy of autumn while a hand cleansing gel with traditional anti-germ oils will help buffer you from seasonal illness.

sugar scrubhandgelWe continue the celebration of autumn’s harvest with an apple cider infused soap, inspired by our prolific apple tree. There’s also a relaxing tea designed with my love of cozy fall nights in mind. It’s relaxing, but won’t totally put you to sleep either so it’s great for a mid-day break, too.

applesYou’ll also learn about the importance of Bitters for digestive health as well as the role of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil in managing stress that can occur during seasonal transitions. Each of my wellness boxes comes with an informational letter teaching you about each of the products and how to use them appropriately.

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The Autumn Share of my Seasonal Wellness boxes is available for you to enjoy for purchase through my Etsy shop. I’m also happy to arrange for pick-up of local orders!

AutumnWellnessBoxI think you’ll enjoy celebrating the transition to this wonderful time of year with an Autumn Wellness Box. We thank you for your support, too!!

{We also have a class coming up this Thursday (10/8/15) on the farm. We’ll go for a plant walk around the yard and then discuss some recipes that you can make to support your transition to Autumn. Find out more here.}

Ben Falk, World Renowned Vermont Permaculture Designer is Visiting Northeast Ohio!

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Credit: Whole Systems Design

Internationally renowned ecological designer and award-winning author Ben Falk will visit Cleveland October 21-24. Falk’s Vermont-based landscape design firm Whole Systems Design utilizes permaculture techniques and systems thinking to design for ecological regeneration, resilience and abundance. Falk will hold consultations with six small farms across northeast Ohio during his tour, which will also include a public lecture and a meet-the-author dinner.

Ben Falk’s award-winning 2013 book The Resilient Farm and Homestead (Chelsea Green), an indispensible manual for small-scale farmers, is based on Falk’s experience developing his own largely self-sufficient homestead on a degraded site in Vermont. Falk’s book provides guidance on a wide range of topics, including water management and earthworks, fertility harvesting and cycling, tools, social systems, species composition, health and preparedness considerations, and leaving a positive legacy.

Falk has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds a Master’s degree in land-use planning and design. His book was honored with an award from the American Horticultural Society and is described by Chelsea Green as “an inspiration in what can be done by imitating natural systems, and making the most of what we have by re-imagining what’s possible. A gorgeous case study for the homestead of the future.”

The Whole Systems Design client list includes The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; Cape Eleuthera Island School, Bahamas; Vermont State Prison Farm; and a significant installation at Teal Farm/LivingFuture in Vermont. Falk has been a featured speaker at ecological food and farm association conferences and given a TED lecture; appeared in Mother Earth News, FastCompany and the Utne Reader and in the recent film Inhabit.

Falk will give a public lecture on Friday, October 23 at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights; an author dinner at Spice Kitchen + Bar featuring the restaurant’s signature local cuisine on Wednesday, October 21; and a Forum for Farmers at The University of Akron Field Station in Bath, Ohio on Thursday, October 22. For more information, and to purchase tickets for any of these events, visit: http://bit.ly/1PJmqOq

Ben Falk Tour Event Schedule

Author Dinner at Spice Kitchen + Bar

Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

5800 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Plated dinner of venison or vegetarian option; includes wine and dessert.

Limit 20 guests.  Tickets $120.  Includes a signed copy of Ben’s book.

This event has been cancelled.  We will be having an informal evening around a cob pizza oven at Kelly’s Working Well Farm.  Join us from 7:00 – 9:00!

Forum for Farmers and Designers

Thursday, October 22, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

University of Akron Field Station at Bath Nature Preserve

3864 W Bath Rd., Akron, OH

Limit 40 guests.  Tickets $40.  Includes heavy hors d’oeuvres.

Public Lecture & Book Signing

Friday, October 23, 7:00-8:30

First Unitarian Church of Cleveland

21600 Shaker Heights Blvd, Shaker Hts., Oh 44122

Tickets $10 suggested donation.  Ben’s book will be available for purchase.

While in Northeast Ohio, Falk will consult with Thorn Valley Farm in Newbury Township, Kelly’s Working Well Farm in Chagrin Falls, Spice Acres Farm in the Countryside Conservancy in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Light Footsteps Herb Farm and Learning Center in Chardon, Hershey Montessori School’s Adolescent Program on the Farm in Huntsburg and Terra Firma Farm in Walton Hills.

Easy Poultice for Insect Stings – What’s your favorite way?

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I taught a class on herbal first-aid recently and we went over a variety of home remedies for simple concerns that arise with more time outside when the weather is nice — bites, stings, rashes, cuts, etc.

IMG_0795One of the topics was bee/wasp/hornet stings. Ouch!  It was interesting to hear all of the ways that people manage this at home.

My favorite is very simple and we’ve used it three times in the past year!

Before applying anything, try to remove the stinger.  Use tweezers or even scrape a credit card along the skin to dislodge it.  This will go a long way in preventing the area from continuing to be painful and irritated.

Then, make a thick paste with equal parts baking soda and clay to neutralize the area and remove toxins that cause the sting.  Seriously, that’s it!

Get a tablespoon or so of both baking soda and clay (I use kaolin), add enough water to form a paste, and apply this to the bite.  Allow to dry and just let it sit there for as long as necessary. You can reapply every 30 minutes or so to keep soothing the area.  Also, I often add a drop or two of tea tree or lavender essential oil to the paste to further help relieve the sting and calm the area.

I have a few packets of the mix leftover if you’re looking to have some on hand!

IMG_2717You can also buy your own baking soda and kaolin clay.  I recommend using Mountain Rose Herbs, especially because they have aluminum-free baking soda!

And, another trick for stings if you’re away from home – grab a leaf of the common weed Plantain (Plantago major), crush it up in your hands (or even chew it!) to release the juices and stick this wad of goopy plant material right on your sting.  It will help to relieve the sting quickly and also helps to draw out toxins.  In fact, it’s a good plant to know for any bug bites you get while outdoors (you should see me while camping, I have tend to have little wads of plantain all over!).

IMG_0622What’s your favorite way to deal with stings naturally?

Come to the next class on the farm (October 8, 2015) where we’ll be discussing herbal remedies to help with the transition to Fall. This class is sponsored by the Holistic Moms Network and it is helpful if you register.

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