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Herbs & Roses Internship

Eight weeks, seven interns, so much medicine.

This week brings Herbs & Roses, an internship program I designed and led at Alemany Farm in San Francisco, to a close.

With the hard work of seven interns, Karima, Jaime, Kari, Madison, Heidi, V, Luca and co-teacher Tessa Kappe, we worked weekly towards re-enlivening the flower garden. From a patch of overgrown grasses to a space winding with paths freshly paved with woodchips, and baby flowers in their beds, the garden has been resurrected!

In the greenhouse, we learned about styles of germinating seeds, greenhouse management and potting up plants. Out in the field we discussed - and then implemented - the best design for new garden paths, considering existing plants and the slope of the garden.

After building a trellis, tinkering with ins-and-outs of drip irrigation, and learning the art of transplanting, we now have the beginnings of a successful cut-flower garden. You are welcome to check it out near the end of the western path in the main field at Alemany Farm. When in abundance, help yourself to flowers :)

Concurrently, during the internship we also spent time learning the basics of herbal medicine making. Starting with water medicine, we learned the differences between herbal infusions and decoctions. This knowledge was key to infusing herbal oils and fresh tincture making. The interns set intentions for some of their first fresh plant tinctures ~ and choose to work with Lemon Balm, California Poppy, Feverfew, and Nettles, all of which grow happily on the farm.

Last week we dipped our toes in the healing waters of aromatherapy when the group choose to distill California Sagebrush (image above). This distinctive coastal smell is a signature of many local hikes, a relative of Mugwort and a sacred plant. We crafted a locally grown (and sustainably harvested) scented water known as a hydrosol. It is tantalizing! Somewhat like the feeling of a hike, or a day at the farm at your fingertips.

This week will wrap up our time together and we will wrap up our medicine making projects too. On our list is making calendula salve, pressing tinctures and the reveal of the flower essence we have been taking separately yet together. The transition from winter into spring can be a wondrous time on the farm. I am so grateful to have spent it with this inspiring group of budding herbalists. I can't wait to see what they do next!

"The people must have herbs, but they must have roses, too."


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