Getting Back To Our Roots

When we think about herbs today we mostly think about seasoning our food. Or perhaps we imagine a nice cup of peppermint or chamomile tea? And who can resist a bar of handmade lavender-infused soap? Our Colonial ancestors enjoyed some of the same herbs we do today. Yet herbs were certainly useful for things beyond tea and perfume. A well-stocked medicine cabinet would contain dried herbs for poultices or a soothing drink. Herbalism generally developed out of family home remedies derived from a combination of European and Native American folklore. The plants and herbs found (or brought to) America were valuable entities which were honored for their medicinal value. With our ever-growing organic garden out at Grumblethorpe and an interest in planting a medicinal herb garden at the Hill-Physick House--in honor of Dr. Physick--we invited Geraldine Lavin to our houses to teach us about present-day herbalism. She will lead two separate workshops, "Solar Smudge" and "Infusions" at both Hill-Physick and Grumblethorpe.
Here's a bit more about Geraldine and her company SUNTRAP in her own words:
SUNTRAP is an herbal practice which encompasses an apothecary plentiful with potent medicinal plant and fungi extracts, a cultivation and wild craft practice which supplies the aforementioned apothecary, a clinical practice to get these herbs directly to the people who need them, and education to send a message of health and healing far and wide. I’m Geraldine Lavin, the woman behind SUNTRAP. This Spring, I have transitioned from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where I was studying clinical herbalism with Thomas Easley and Matthew Wood at the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine, back to Philadelphia, PA, the city of my origin. Here in Philadelphia, I am carving out a corner of Heritage Farm in West Philadelphia, using my background as a permaculturist to grow out an abundance of medicinal plants to use in my practice. I am also gearing up for a summer full of workshops! It is my firm belief that everyone deserves basic health care and education, which is why I was inspired to put together a schedule of donation based workshops for the Summer of 2017.
For Solar Smudge, we will be meeting in the garden to explore Herbal Energetics and Smudge Making and their applications as self care tools. Specifically, we will be discussing the Solar Remedies, which are a class of herbs that are gently warming and drying. I will impart the importance of forming relationships with the herbs that fall into this category during the warm season when they are incredibly abundant, so that they can bring light and warmth into our lives in the cold season, when we need them most. If you have never heard of Herbal Energetics before, do not be discouraged! I will give a brief introduction to the subject and will provide all attendees with a booklet covering the material we discuss in class. For the Smudge Making portion of the class, I will be teaching a technique of smudge making that participants will be able to apply to many plants that grow in their gardens, backyards, and neighborhoods. We will talk about the importance of learning to make these energetically clearing, spirit lifting tools with herbs that are regionally appropriate for us and with plant allies that grow around us abundantly. This class takes place at the Hill-Physick House on May 20th from 2-3:30 PM, and at Grumblethorpe on June 17th from 2-3:30 PM.
The Infusions class is an introduction to making plant medicine through learning the magic and science of infusing plants and fungi in the 5 major solvents used in herbalism: water, vinegar, oil, alcohol and honey. I will discuss each solvent in depth and as a class we will create a water infusion, and either an oil or a vinegar infusion. This is an exciting and interactive class loaded with information, so I make sure all participants go home with a booklet that hits all the major points about using these solvents to make preparations for the home, body and mind. Participants are encouraged to bring a small jar (to take home an infusion) and a mug (for drinking tea) but I will do my best to provide those for all attendees. Catch this class June 25th from 2-3:30 at the Hill-Physick House and on July 22nd from 2:30 at Grumblethrope. Both classes are 10-15$ suggested donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. If you are interested in learning more about my practice, visit If you are interested in a clinical herbal consultation, email Geraldine directly at

#herbalism #permaculture #18thcenturygardens #herbsasmedicine

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