The novel corona virus caused many changes for all of our lives and our markets. For La Colina Linda, we had to find different ways to sell our products. When the indoor winter farmers' market closed, most small farms had no where to sell their produce. Next, when the outdoor farmers' market opened, the spacing needs for social distancing limited the number of farmers that could sell there.
In response, we completed La Colina Linda's web site and set up an online store. From there we take orders and have two days of the week for customers to have curb-side pickup in two different locations. Most importantly, we have developed agreements with two skin-care companies to grow medicinal herbs. #blissoma.com #envibotanicals.com
We have had to reshape our thinking about what to grow. To grow more medicinal plants/roots means that some of our beds may be in a two or more year wait as the perennials' roots mature. We have also learned more about how to grow, use and consume our medicinal herbs in teas, tinctures, baking and more. This differs from planning and growing for a weekly farmers' market.
One great benefit from this new way of growing is the friendships we are "growing" with the two women who run these companies. Julie from Blissoma and Angela from Envibotanicals are dedicated to using the highest quality organic herbs and to the improvement of the soil through organic and regenerative strategies. In addition, they both want to participate in the success of all of us.
Recently we had a visit from Julie when she traveled with her daughter from St. Louis to purchase the Chickweed we had picked and dried. Julie wanted to see the farm in person to connect to the source of the ingredients. Angela is helping with harvesting and will come to the farm this week to pick the Milky Oat tops.
In June we are harvesting and drying Yarrow, Lemon Balm and Milky Oat (heads and straw) for Blissoma and Envibotanicals. The Yarrow plant has milky-white delicate flowers with fern-like leaves. The flowers and leaves emit a lovely aroma and that is the perfect time to harvest and dry. La Colina Linda collects these flowers for skin care products as we did with our Chickweed.
We have always grown a patch of Yarrow because we valued the diversity in the farm ecosystem, but this wonderful herb has many uses. As a tea, an extract or essential oil, the benefits include relieving fever, aiding digestion, and relieving depression and anxiety. Fresh yarrow leaves, as a compress, are good for healing wounds.
Lemon Balm is another herb we have used before and are now harvesting for Blissoma. We cut the stems when the leaves have a pleasant lemony aroma and just before the flowering begins. Lemon Balm is brewed as a tea to provide a calming effect; it helps with indigestion; and, it also aids with sleep.
Both companies use Milky Oats albeit different parts. Envibotanicals uses the fresh seed head when the seeds exude a milky liquid when pressed. Blissoma wants the stalks harvested just after the seed head is harvested and dried. A calming tea or tincture from the tops supports a healthy response to stress and oats have the highest magnesium levels of any plant. Oatstraw also makes a calming tea, benefits the skin and is a good source of calcium.
We have many more organic medicinal herbs growing in our beds. We continue to learn and adapt to the changing growing and market environments. Looking forward to sharing more with you.
You should always consult with your health practitioner or certified herbalist about use of such herbs. Contact the companies for the specific products that use our ingredients.
Kathy Ward and Jeri Kinser
Kathy is professor emerita of sociology and women's studies at SIU-Carbondale. She is currently farmer and co-owner with Jeri Kinser of La Colina Linda Farm. Jeri has been an educator of K-12 for 40 years specializing in instructional technology and bilingual education.