Wild Weed Wisdom

Nurture Your 'Inner Wild' with Foraged Edible and Medicinal Plants


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Sorry for the few month’s hiatus from Wild Weed Wisdom – we’ve just completed a family move from Amsterdam back to my hometown – Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Well, almost completed – we’re still surrounded by unpacked boxes. I’ll be updating this post with new comments, weed walks around Southern and Central Ontario, workshops, kids programs, yoga sessions, and long-term adult learning. I’m homeschooling my two girls so likely I’ll be developing some related outdoor education programs as well as we adjust to our new life here in Canada – stay tuned!


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When I see young people moodily pulling leaves off a tree as they walk by, or tearing a flower to bits, what I see is an instinctual – though unconcious – act of herbal self-healing. Just as we clench our fists when angry (this is a hand-mudra, used in yoga to deal with anger) or bang our fists to our heads with frustration over a problem (in yoga, pressure on the forehead activates the frontal lobe, dealing with short-term memory and problem-solving), so tearing up leaves or flowers releases chemical components of the plant and surround the person with its healing energy. These are simply my thoughts and intuitions… how do YOU feel about this?


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Prickly Sow Thistle

Prickly Sow ThistlePrickly Sow Thistle (Sonchus asper) is another edible plant that grows as a weed in disturbed soil or neglected places. I picked some the other day to add to my daily “Super-Local Food” intake! Nothing fancy here – you can cook it up with garlic, olive oil, herbs, or chop it up to add for soups… use it as you would spinach, like we do with most wild greens. It looks prickly, but the ‘prickles’ are actually quite tender, and when cooked they’re fine. Today I’m adding Prickly Sow Thistle to a ‘green juice’ along with wheatgrass and ginger.

Mainly, I want to give you a good photo for identifying this plant. Notice  how the buds look remarkably similar to dandelion buds – you could make pickles out of either of them – but the Sonchus asprer has prickles even on the buds!! They will soften if you blanch then before pickling. The flower in full-bloom also looks similar to dandelions golden-yellow face – I’ll go back for a photo soon to show you. The leaf-edges are wavy, very decorative in their own way, and the base claps the stem in a graceful arc, with the leaf half-surrounding the stem in a big hug. So, for all the prickles, I still see it as a gentle, loving plant.

Here are a couple more photos to get a good idea of the plant. The large, ridged stem is a bit blotched with red, and it’s hollow, like a straw, with milky sap, much like the dandelion in this way.

Wikipedia lists this as a noxious weed that can cause irritation, but I think they are being cautious. You can find many other sites that consider this plant to be safe. I ate it and loved it. Here is another site that feels the same way: http://www.eattheweeds.com/sonchus-sow-thistle-in-a-pigs-eye-2/

DSC07094 DSC07095 Sow thistle back side of leaf

 


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A Simple Way to Taste the Wisdom of A Place

Eat Me and Learn My Secrets...

Eat Me and Learn My Secrets…

Anika holds some Linden leaves in the photo above – it was soon made into soup and pesto, but just nibbling a leaf as you walk on your way is fine… and beautiful.

I was thinking the other day, how little we eat of the food we grow around us. I mean, the food that grows wild, the real food that belongs to this place. Food that has the vibrations and DNA peculiar to this small spot, where ever it may be on this Earth, that we call home.

I think if we are to heal ourselves, or simply to feel at ease in the cities and towns that we call home, we would do well to eat food that we “belong to,” rather than imported food, even if is it branded as organic, raw or a “super-food.” Even ‘local’ food that is grown 50km away is not so local as the wild food at your feet.  You can harvest this wild food yourself, easily. A wonderful idea is for travelers to eat the wild food they find growing in a new place – what better way to get ‘grounded’ again?

Clean, abundant food is simple to find, providing you know what to look for (learn from someone you trust, and use a guide book). A nibble of a Linden-tree leaf, or a fresh, clean dandelion leaf or stem, a taste of a violet… can infuse you with an unknown amount of living wisdom and soul-nourishment. Just invite it into our bodies with a sense of awareness and gratitude. How easy is that?

In the photo,  Anika holds some gorgeously green Linden leaves – they were quickly made into both a  soup and a pesto, but just nibbling a leaf as you walk on your way is fine, and beautiful.


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Inspirations: Yoga Breathing to Change Your Life!

Vu Hortus Breathing Photo

6-Week Breathing to Change Your Life Program

Imagine a greenhouse full of living, breathing, gorgeous tropical plants. Now, imagine being there, quietly breathing… and feeling the energy pulse around and through you.

I’m offering a weekly Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) series in the tropical greenhouse of the VU Hortus Botanicus. It is a wonderful opportunity to find peace and tranquility in the city, and a chance to recharge every cell of your body with living oxygen and plant energy.

Pranayama will inspire, heal and change your life on unimaginable levels – from balancing your nervous system and purifying your organs, to deep relaxation of all parts of the body, energetic healing and an opening of the heart. So please join me on Wednesday mornings or Friday afternoons in the beautiful indoor gardens of the VU Hortus.

You’ll learn and practice breathing and yoga techniques that have been healing people for over thousands of years. And you’ll feel a profound change – for the better!

Jennie Akse-Kelly has lived for a year in India to develop her knowledge of yoga (including a 6-months residential yoga therapy training + 300 hrs teacher training), as well as studied yoga and meditation in Canada, USA, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and has extensive, international teaching experience. Testimonials from students available!

Located at the Vu Hortus, in the Tropical Greenhouse.

Address: Van der Boechorststraat 8, 1081 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands. There is a winkel-cafe and outdoor garden terrace where you can enjoy tea and snacks.

10:00-11:30
May 22 to June 26 (6 Wednesday-morning sessions)
90 euros

Click Here to Register


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Make Your Own Herbal Remedy: Workshop – Friday, May 17

Want to learn how to make an herbal tincture? This Friday morning join me in some hands-on tincture-making. I’ll provide a selection of dried herbs (some herbs work better dried, others fresh – we’ll talk about this on Friday), and you bring a number of small jars and your own alcohol of choice – or buy some from me if that’s more convenient. Possible herbs include: Arnica, Vitex Berry, Cramp Bark, Gotu Kola, Pau d’Arco, Rhodiola, Shatavari, Tumeric, Yarrow.

We’ll also process a number of my own herbs that are ready to be poured-off. This is a great way to learn what to do when your own tincture has ‘matured’, as well as being a fine introduction to many medicinal herbs and their healing properties. You’ll get a chance to sample each tincture as well.

This workshop will take place at my home, and my apprentices will also be there for additional assistance. Spaces are limited, and reserved for those who have pre-paid.

Please RSVP by bank transfer to L J Akse Kelly, INGB 0755 5451 33

Date: Friday, May 17
Time: 10:00 to 12:00
Fee: €15 to reserve your space . Please fill out the contact form. At the workshop, you’ll buy your chosen herbs to tincture. After you RSVP, I’ll send details with my address and phone number.Image