Midsummer is fast approaching and the long days have brought us some beautiful weather to harvest herbs for our first few CommuniTea sessions in Wester Hailes, South-West Edinburgh. We have been running our Community Herbal Clinic there for a while now, alongside growing, foraging and making medicines with folk in the local area. This year we wanted to move towards joining the dots a little more – linking our relationships with each other, our land and our medicine.
For our first session on a beautiful sunny day we were greeted with the frothy white blooms of the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), also known as the Mayflower. This year has seemed like a bumper one for this common hedgerow species and we harvested ample flowers and leaves from the Willow Garden seemingly without making a dent. Hawthorn is mainly used as a medicine for the heart.
It increases blood flow and has a normalising effect on the heart muscle, though as a 4 year old boy told us who had come along to be part of the community foraging with his mum – we were also picking Hawthorn for sadness. The herb helps ease the emotional heart as well, and on that day, coming together to harvest medicine in the sunshine to be used by our community herbal clinic for folk living in the neighbourhood, it really was uplifting. After sharing Hawthorn tea together we laid out our harvest on racks in the shed. When dry, these herbs will be stored and later made into tea mixes together, for the clinic and for local folk. It was lovely to focus on, discuss and harvest one herb for a couple of hours in the garden, and just a few days later we were back, this time to forage the leaves of Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), again from the Willow Garden.
As these were picked from the ground we washed and then dried our harvest in salad spinners while we shared the tea together and discussed the herb.
The following week we headed over to Sighthill Primary School where with a group of P6s we headed into the school garden to continue our Plantain harvest, discussing herbs used in food and medicine as we went, with everyone in agreement that Oregano was delicious because pizzas are delicious. Yesterday we were happy to have yet another bright and sunny day back in the Willow Garden where we harvested young Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) leaves and the first Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra). We had a handful of new faces along – it seems the news is spreading. The co-op is having a midsummer break, but will be back and continuing with our CommuniTea sessions in July, see dates below. All sessions will meet at the Willow Garden shed in the Calders. We welcome anyone to come along to these foraging sessions, with herbs harvested being processed into herbal teas, given out to folks living locally and used in the community herbal clinic.
This simple act of coming together to make our own medicines from plants growing in the area for our local clinic is community resilience. We hope that we will meet many more of you wanting to connect with us. Connect with each other, our land and our health. If you are interested in collaborating or being involved please get in touch.
Upcoming CommuniTea sessions:
Tuesday 10th July 6-8pm
Friday 20th July 2-4pm
Friday 27th July 2-4pm
Friday 10th August 2-4pm
Friday 24th August 2-4pm