The work of Grass Roots Remedies usually revolves around community; we bring folk together in community gardens and spots of green about the city to explore hedgerows and verges, woodlands and scrublands, connecting communities of people and plants.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic and all the fear, loss, and change that came with it, we had to adapt and do things a little differently. Face-to-face appointments at our herbal clinics had to stop, as did in person workshops, herb walks and community gatherings.
We were fortunate enough to receive funding to respond to the effects of Covid-19 in the neighbourhoods our community clinics are in, Granton and Wester Hailes in the North West and South West of the city respectively. Over the years of herb growing, foraging and medicine-making, we have built up connections in these communities with great people and projects. Building on these connections we were able to maintain some sense of connection and community throughout the pandemic, as well as distributing lots of plant medicine and herbal health care information in the process.
Simone (of Solar Ripe) began the project by consulting a range of helpful herbalists including Rasheeqa Ahmad of Hedge Herbs, Mobile Apothecary) in London and the Rhizome Community Clinic in Bristol, and gathering and creating recipes that would be most supportive of people in supporting general health, immunity and recovery from illness as well as the stress and other psycho-emotional effects of the pandemic. Joined by Dot we got to work mixing great big batches of herbal teas, elderberry syrup and thyme honey, infusing oils for herbal chest rubs and taking orders for delivery around the neighbourhoods.
“at the time of getting (the) calming remedy which certainly helped me to function with a bit less anxiety and hyped up nervous system after the breakin”. Kirsty, local Pilton resident
In the year since April 2020 we’ve had nearly 80 stalls and have given out around 5000 herbal products plus tea strainers and face masks.
We teamed up with The Community Pantry at Granton:Hub and Fidra Court Community Kitchen in the north of Edinburgh. In the West of the city we joined up with Whale Arts Community Take-Away meal and the newly formed Wester Hailes Eats Together to distribute free herbal products as well as info such as herbal recipes, tips for better sleep and herbal health. These community projects shone through in this time when so many vital services shut down leaving people without the care and support they needed.
It was great to be able to come together with these food distribution projects to reach people at a time when we were all so separated by lockdown measures. People appreciated our presence and the products to take home and try. It was however extremely sad to see that these communities that have already been suffering a public health crisis due to systemic inequality were being pushed further into ill-health and food poverty. A warm meal, art-packs for the kids, ingredients to stock the cupboards for the week and some herbal tea to help calm your nerves can really make a change to a person’s day – can get a family through a tight spot – but it’s no solution to the long term effects of neglecting and mistreating swathes of society. We also witnessed the strength and power in these communities to take care of each other – people chumming others along to the stall or taking care packs for neighbours and other acts of kindness certainly kept some folk going.
With some extra funding, we stepped up from running stalls to working with Herbal Scotland to offer ‘pop-up’ herbal clinics and advice stalls in the community. This meant that people could come along and talk to experienced medical herbalists and take home some remedies for free. Again the Granton:Hub hosted us and after some roving outdoor clinics in Wester Hailes we got permission to set-up in the local shopping centre. Along with postering around local notice boards and bus stops as suggested by one stellar community member, this allowed us to reach new folk and have more great conversations.
“We had some really positive feedback from the packs you gave us at B Healthy Together in Broomhouse and people were staggered that there is a herbal dispensary in Wester Hailes so we’ve been spreading the word. Those packs were really amazing and full credit to you and the team.“ Sam – B Healthy Together
Of course other community organisations, charities and mutual aid groups were also working hard to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and support community well-being. We were happy to send out products to be distributed to/by:
In the North of Edinburgh: Stepping Stones – supporting young parents, Muirhouse Medical Practice, Cyrenians Social Bite Village, Granton Community Gardeners, LIFT – Low Income Families Together, North Edinburgh Arts Pantry, Fidra Community Kitchen and of course our home the Granton:Hub.
In Wester Hailes & Surrounds: The Wester Hailes Community Flat, B Healthy Together, WomanZone – supporting women in recover from trauma, Strengthening Communities for Race Equality Scotland (SCORE), The Health Agency, Wester Hailes Carers Group, Edible Estates, and last but not least the brilliant Whale Arts.
We also supported some folk a bit further afield including: Mutual Aid Trans Edinburgh, Herbal unity Glasgow, Edinburgh’s Homeless GP Practice, Edinburgh’s Settlement Project, Kurdish Community Organisation Zagros and Cyrenians Farm Community.
“Thank you for everything you have done for our community! Very much enjoyed meeting you all and being given some fantastic advice on herbal medicine and my delicious teas . Really hope you can come back soon xx” – Local Resident.
It has been brilliant to connect with so many great organisations and community groups over the last year and we hope to continue to be a part of building stronger, healthier and better-supported communities. If you’re looking for some extra support or want to get involved in a group supporting others, do check out the above groups and see how you can link up or get involved. Although this project is coming to an end, there are various ways you can get involved with us:
- If you reside in Wester Hailes or Granton/Pilton/Muirhouse/Drylaw and would like some of our free herbal teas then get in touch to collect from the Granton:hub by arrangement or our stalls in Wester Hailes. We have four blends of tea in stock: Breathe Tea, Nourish Tea, Sleep Tea & Calm Tea. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you reside in Wester Hailes & would like to arrange a herbal consultation please contact email@example.com
- See our Learn With Us page if you would like to study one of our courses – open to anyone.
- Follow us on social media: facebook: Grass Roots Remedies Co-op, Instagram: Grassrootsremedies or sign up to our newsletter at www.grassrootsremedies.co.uk
We look forward to hearing from you! In the meantime maybe you’d like to make some remedies yourself. Here’s our recipe for Thyme Honey. We will be posting up more recipes on our website in the future too.
Recipe taken from guidelines by Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw
The great thing about this recipe is that you may already have the ingredients in your cupboards, and if not they are available in most shops. Thyme can also be grown in the UK and will often be planted up in herb gardens so ask your local community gardener or growing enthusiast where to find some locally.
Honey has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal benefits and is recommended by the NHS for soothing coughs. We have added thyme for its medicinal benefits.
- 160g dried Thyme
- 2.5l boiling water
- 800ml Honey
Add the thyme and boiling water to a saucepan.
Simmer without a lid for around 1 hour until reduced by half.
Strain out the herb, keeping the liquid.
Return the liquid to the boil and add an equal amount of honey.
Stir and bring back to the boil until well mixed.
Pour into sterilised bottles or jars and seal with lids.
Directions for use:
Take a teaspoon (children) or tablespoon (adults) as needed. You can also add it to your herbal tea as a sweetener. This should last at least 6 months in the fridge.
Contraindications: Thyme should be avoided in pregnancy. Honey is not recommended for children under one.