The Farmers

NYC has a green thumb!

Yeah!  Thanks to the NYC Parks Department, I was able to bask among a crowd of urban farmers at the 32nd Annual Green Thumb Grow Together Conference.  All gathered together on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, urban farmers, gardeners, activists, educators, students and wanna be planters grouped together to eat, drink, dance, learn, network and explore ways to grow, nourish, sustain and recycle food.

I spent the better part of the day learning (via attending two enlightening workshops), networking (Brooklyn has some proud community gardeners, who I will be visiting) and smooching (while trying to nail down a 1:1 interview with dynamic urban farmer & keynote speaker Tanya Fields, who makes a fantastic smoothie by the way).

So let me break down the highlights (for me) of the conference and spread a little light on what I learned.

  • I can make my own soap.  Ha!  Yup.  In a pinch if I ever get tired of Dove unscented, I got the skills to make a batch of sweet smelling and refreshing bars.  Thanks to educator Sister Fajr Khadijah Muhammad & her Herbal Soap Making Class, I am equipped to create a soap that is natural and usable.
  • A combination of vegetable glycerin, aloe vera, coconut, chlorophyll combined with a choice of calendula, lemon grass, peppermint, herbs and scented oil can make a refreshing batch of soaps in a short period of time.

In addition I also learned that listening to the smart, informative and super cool urban farmer Heidi Woolever from Edgemere Farm in Far Rockaway, NY that: 

  • You can actually forage for medicinal herbs in the middle of NYC and use them to help boost your immunity (I'll never look at Prospect or Central Park the same again).
  • That there are numerous plants and herbs that can be grown (that's right, in my yard or windowsill) that can assist cleansing the body.  For instance after chemo & radiation if you want to cleanse your system (Stinging Nettle), to detoxify the body & assist your bladder and kidneys (Chickweed), you have issue with estrogen imbalance, PMS, mood swings (Red Clover) and if you've got trouble with memory, sleep apnea & depression (Lemon Balm).

Heidi breaks down her recommendation on how to use the herbs to make a tea.

*note* Heidi recommends that you use 1/3 less herbs if your going to make tea using the dry herbs. 

Lastly Heidi gave up her insights on the advantages of using a tincture (a type of herbal preparation in which plants, alcohol or a solvent (for example apple cider vinegar) are turned into a liquid extract used to boost the immune system.  Taken orally Heidi recommends making a batch and then storing in a small dispenser, glass bottle with a dropper, that can be used to easily take the tincture on a daily basis. ** Remember, before attempting to add herbal supplements to your diet, consult your doctor.**

Yup, I think I can really get into this urban farming thing!