Healing herbs

Healing herbs
Echinacea and Calendula

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

It’s Not a Fairytale: Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest

Forget meadows. Seattle's food forest will be filled with edible plants, and everything from pears to herbs will be free for the taking.

Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.

“This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park,” Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect for the Beacon Food Forest project, tells TakePart. Harrison is working on construction and permit drawings now and expects to break ground this summer.

Read more here

Growing your own food is like printing your own money

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

Ron Finley grows a nourishing food culture in South Central L.A.’s food desert by planting the seeds and tools for healthy eating.

Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA

The Simple Life: 14 Steps to an Urban Homestead

Want to live a simpler, more self-reliant lifestyle while remaining in the city or suburbs? You don’t have to move to a farm to grow some of your own food, cut your reliance on the grid, reduce your waste output dramatically and save a whole lot of money. Urban (or suburban) homesteading is all about re-learning basic skills that most of us have exchanged for ‘convenience,’ and feeling more connected to the items and processes that sustain us, bringing those things from faraway factories back into our own hands. Here are 14 ways to get started.

Get Gardening

The single most important step you can take is to produce even a small amount of your own food by starting a garden. You can do this even if you don’t have a yard, with planters in windows or on a balcony. Whether you just have herbs and a few tomato plants or you rip out your entire lawn and replace it with food, there are few things in life that are more rewarding than eating homegrown produce right off the plant.

Plant Fruit Trees

If you want to ease into the process of growing your own food, and can’t commit to a lot of upkeep right away, plant some fruit trees. They take a few years to get established and start producing fruit, and require almost no maintenance. Pears, apples, cherries, figs, avocado, plum and pomegranate are just a few options available depending on your local climate. Consult a plant nursery in your area to find out what varieties would be most likely to flourish.

Start Composting

All of the banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells and grass clippings you’re currently  just tossing in the trash could be an ideal source of free, high-quality, plant-nourishing garden soil free of chemical fertilizers. Composting is a basic component of growing your own food, turning waste into something valuable. It’s also easier than you might think. Your compost pile could be as simple as a circle of chicken wire, though some people prefer to purchase self-contained units. Starting a simple compost pile on bare earth allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate and fertilize the compost. Get the fundamentals at EarthEasy.com.

Read more here

Friday, 26 April 2013

Nestlé is Trying to Patent the Fennel Flower

Nigella sativa -- more commonly known as fennel flower -- has been used as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available in impoverished communities across the Middle East and Asia.

But now Nestlé is claiming to own it, and filing patent claims around the world to try and take control over the natural cure of the fennel flower and turn it into a costly private drug.

Tell Nestlé: Stop trying to patent a natural cure

In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover” what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy”.

But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications -- which are currently pending -- around the world.

Read more here

Nestlé: Stop trying to patent the fennel flower
Nigella sativa - Fennel flower

Nigella Sativa: Ancient Egyptian Cancer-Fighting Super-Spice
The Health Benefits of Black Seed [Nigella sativa]
Kitchen of Palestine - Black Cumin Pie (Qizha)

Monday, 22 April 2013

7 Foods to Get You Through April

“April is the cruelest month,” T. S. Eliot once wrote. Clearly, he was a fan of local food. Despite the longer days and slowly warming temperatures, local food stalls are still bare and farmers are only beginning to plant what seems like a depressingly far-off harvest.

That’s why it’s all that much more important to fill your plate with mood-boosting foods, full of omega-3s, vitamin D, and vitamin B. And given that allergists are predicting a worse-than-ever allergy season this year, it wouldn’t hurt to build up your immune defenses, either! Grab your shopping cart and load it up with these food cures to get you through the cruelest month of the year.

Read more here

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Garbage Warrior: Advancing the Art of "Earthship Biotecture"

What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you're renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing. For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of "Earthship Biotecture" by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. However, these experimental structures that defy state standards create conflict between Reynolds and the authorities, who are backed by big business. Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hum and ha, Mother Nature strikes, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis and hurricanes. Reynolds and his crew seize the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who need it most. Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Why Make Compost?

Compost is one of nature’s best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers. Best of all, compost is cheap. You can make it without spending a cent. Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.

Compost loosens clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. Adding compost improves soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development in plants. The organic matter provided in compost provides food for microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus will be produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms, so few if any soil amendments will need to be added.

Landfills are brimming, and new sites are not likely to be easily found. For this reason there is an interest in conserving existing landfill space and in developing alternative methods of dealing with waste. Don’t throw away materials when you can use them to improve your lawn and garden! Start composting instead.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Wheatgrass is a food prepared from the cotyledons of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is sold either as a juice or powder concentrate. Wheatgrass differs from wheat malt in that it is served freeze-dried or fresh, while wheat malt is convectively dried. Wheatgrass is also allowed to grow longer than malt is. 

It provides chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Claims about the health benefits of wheatgrass range from providing supplemental nutrition to having unique curative properties. 

Some consumers grow and juice wheatgrass in their homes. It is often available in juice bars, alone or in mixed fruit or vegetable drinks. It is also available in many health food stores as fresh produce, tablets, frozen juice and powder. Wheatgrass contains no wheat gluten.


The consumption of wheatgrass in the Western world began in the 1930s as a result of experiments conducted by Charles F. Schnabel in his attempts to popularize the plant.

Schnabel, an agricultural chemist, conducted his first experiments with young grasses in 1930, when he used fresh cut grass in an attempt to nurse dying hens back to health. The hens not only recovered, but they produced eggs at a higher rate than healthy hens. Encouraged by his results, he began drying and powdering grass for his family and neighbors to supplement their diets. 

The following year, Schnabel reproduced his experiment and achieved the same results. Hens consuming rations supplemented with grass doubled their egg production. Schnabel started promoting his discovery to gristmills, chemists and the food industry

Two large corporations, Quaker Oats and American Dairies Inc., invested millions of dollars in further research, development, and production of grass products for animals and humans. By 1940, cans of Schnabel's powdered grass were on sale in major drug stores throughout the United States and Canada.