Better living through nature
Lisa is a writer, budding photographer and herb enthusiast. She enjoys poking around in the garden, creating in the kitchen and reading a good book (when she’s not answering the call of “Mom!” from her five children).
In my last blog, I directed readers to a website for more in-depth herb studies with children, Herbal Roots Zine. Since then, I have spent some time getting to know Kristine Brown, creator of the website and author of a monthly e-zine. Each month's electronic issue is packed with herbal lore, songs, games, crafts, recipes, coloring pages and more.
Q. What is your philosophy regarding teaching children about herbs?
A. I believe wholly in immersing kids in their learning environment. With herbs, I like to take my kids out to the garden to work with me, weeding, harvesting, drying and making herbal medicine together. As we work I tell them what the plants are called, what they are used for and when to harvest. Any time someone is hurt, the kids pick and chew some plantain to put on the cut or bee sting to stop the bleeding or stinging, even my 4 year old, because to them, it’s a way of life. I don’t like to be forceful with teaching, rather I want them to learn it naturally and have fun doing it.
Photo: Kristine Brown
The June 2011 issue of Herbal Roost features red clover.
Q. Was there a specific inspiration for your creation of Herbal Roots Zine?
A. My own personal frustration over the lack of information available in a kid friendly format. Lesley Tierra’s A Kid’s Herb Book was pretty much the only book out there. As a homeschooling mom, I wanted something I could incorporate into our daily learning without being overly school-ish since I like to keep learning fun. Kids learn naturally through songs, stories and games so I challenged myself to come up with something that could be available monthly and Herbal Roots Zine was born. I try to put a bit of everything in it so all kids can enjoy it regardless of their age level. At home, it is tested out by my 4 year old, 6 year old and 13 year old and they all have a good time with it. Now it’s become a wonderful obsession of mine to work on. I love searching out new sources of games and books that are kid friendly and coming up with the games, songs and everything else in each issue.
Q. I love the illustrations in your newsletter and e-zine. Have you always been an artist? Would you say that drawing herbs has impacted your study of them?
A. Thank you! Yes, I have drawn my whole life. As a kid, it was horses. I remember drawing horse after horse and selling them to my friends and family for 5 cents each or giving them away when people got tired of buying them. Art was always my favorite subject. In high school I gave up my study hall period so I could have an extra hour of art without receiving credit. I went to college briefly majoring in art.
The whole experience with creating Herbal Roots has impacted my study with herbs, really. Each issue forces me to focus on one herb for the month I am working on it and get reacquainted with it. Drawing, though, is a great way to become very intimate with a plant, sitting close to them and examining everything as closely as possible: Noticing the hairs that may grow on the undersides of the leaves or the stems, the veins that are on the leaves, the minute streaking of colors running up the stems, it really makes you pay attention to the plant.
Q. You are a Traditional Community Herbalist. What does that entail?
A. Traditional refers to old-school healing, treating the cause of an illness instead of the symptoms. So instead of suppressing the illness deeper into the body, which will only manifest later in life in another form, it actually goes to the root of the problem to heal the body. This may require a change of diet and lifestyle as well. Traditional healing is a commitment to wanting to be fully healed. This doesn’t mean that I will never treat the symptoms; sometimes it’s necessary to ease symptoms to get someone in a comfort zone so that we can work with the root of the problem. But I’m not just going to stop at treating the symptoms, I will continue to work until they are fully healed.
Community refers to me being here for my community. My goal is not to have clients for life but rather to empower my clients to take control of their healing, learn to identify and harvest herbs and make their own medicine so they do not need to rely on me. I am here for them if they need me but I really want them to feel confident that they have that power. I generally only work with herbs that grow in my region so I can teach others to find easily accessible herbs.
Enter to win the July issue or a year's subscription to Kristine Brown's Herbal Roots.
Herbal Roots Zine Giveaway
Kristine has agreed to give away two copies of the July issue of Herbal Roots Zine; a third lucky winner will win an entire year's subscription!
HOW TO ENTER
• When you do any of the following, post comment in the comment section below.
• End Date: July 20, 2011 (12:00 a.m. Central Time)
• Winners will be announced early the following week.