Journal

  • A Horsetail-as-old-as-time: Get to know Horsetail herb, Equisetum arvense

    A Horsetail-as-old-as-time: Get to know Horsetail herb, Equisetum arvense

    Horsetail: A sure sign of spring, and one of the first easily recognizable plants to push their way through the warming soil. Let's take a moment to get to know & appreciate this wildly prehistoric plant!

    Water-loving horsetail grows abundantly in SEAK's rainforest climate, often earning it the sticky misnomer of a WEED. Lucky for us, most common weeds are actually wonderful sources of food, nutrients, & plant medicine that grow heartily & happily right outside our door; offering us all their goodness once we learn to meet & greet them with open loving arms!

    A bit of history on our ancient 'weed' in question: This plant's botanical ancestors were abundant over 300 million years ago, during our planet’s “Carbiniferous Period”, when the Earth’s climate was thought to be fairly mild, tropical, and humid, and critters were just starting to crawl out of the water and lay their eggs on land. The plants that thrived during this time period eventually decomposed to become a significant portion of the biological matter that now makes up our modern-day coal deposits. Many of the horsetail species of that long ago era grew to massive tree-size proportions!

    The species we know & work with today is significantly smaller; a relative of the fern, with jointed hollow stems (they pop & pull apart like puzzle pieces) and no broad leaves or flowers to speak of. In early spring (look outside now!) the plants send up a fertile stalk with a spore-covered cone on top for plant reproduction. The plant will eventually send up an infertile stalk with with whorled 'branches' unfolding around the stem like a bright green pipe cleaner. 

     horsetail herb

    Horsetail contains high quantities of silica, which our hair & fingernails LOVE. Research on the plant & it's uses have indicated that horsetail has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, & pain relieving properties in it's gift-basket of beneficial actions. The minerals & vitamins present in horsetail help to soften & strengthen hair & skin, improving texture & tone. That's precisely why we've incorporated horsetail into our spring release Nettle & Mint Soap, to give the bar an added boost as both a body & shampoo bar. 

    Horsetail absorbs silica from the soil, along with a host of other nutrients. Be mindful that horsetail will also absorb any heavy metals & pollutants present in contaminated soils, so pay careful attention to soil conditions where you find this plant, if you feel compelled to harvest. With any wild harvest, always be sure you've chosen a site that is clean & free of contamination. 

    Horsetail herb

    Many folks make a tea from the aerial (above-ground) parts of horsetail to access it's nutrient & mineral rich profile. Horsetail herb is best harvested for consumption in the spring and early summer, as the plant's silica begins to crystalize later in the season, which can be harsh on the body's filtration systems. Late season horsetail does however make an excellent backcountry pot scrubber when you're in a pinch! Externally, the plant can be steeped in hot water to make a nourishing scalp & hair rinse. 

    If you feel called to use horsetail, take care to heat the plant before consuming, as cooking destroys an enzyme in the fresh plant that can disrupt some vitamins in the body. The high silica content of the plant can irritate the urinary tract, and long term internal use of horsetail is not recommended. Always consult a field guide, relevant literature, & best yet a professional while you're learning to identify and use wild plants! Check for any cautions or contraindications to be sure a plant is safe to use with your body. 

    Nettle and mint soap, shampoo bar

    Keep your eyes peeled for horsetail popping up across open woods, meadows, and perhaps in your soggy back yard this spring, and invite this nourishing ancient plant into your daily self care routine with with Nettle & Mint Soap!

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    The information presented here is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
    This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before consuming herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

  • 2017: Our Year In Review!

    Wrangell Island, Alaska
    In the spirit of reflection at the transition to a new year, I'd like to share our year in review. We dreamed BIG for Gathered & Grown last year, and 2017 saw some huge leaps of faith, exciting changes, new opportunities, and humbling lessons learned. Here's a look back at a few favorite highlights:
  • More Than a Buzzword - What Handmade Means to Me

    More Than a Buzzword - What Handmade Means to Me

    As a creator of handmade goods and active member and participant in the communities of “makers” and “creatives”, I see these buzzwords and others like them used regularly in the marketing, promotion, and discussion of other handmade products and businesses.

    The thing about buzzwords, is that they tend to get used to the point of dilution and we become desensitized to the feelings they were initially intended to convey.

    I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about “handmade”, and what this identifier really means for me in my personal life and in my business.

    Taken literally at face value, a handmade product is something created and crafted by hand. For my business on a nuts and bolts level, it means measuring, pouring, melting, mixing, packaging, labeling, and shipping each product with my very own hands. It means participating in the creation of the product every step of the way – from choosing and procuring ingredients, to formulating products and gathering feedback, to designing the product packaging and labels to ensure I can be proud to put my name behind what I create.

    For my business handmade means hiking into the muskeg to harvest Labrador tea and spruce tips at the peak of their season, which will then be washed and processed and stored for use, with my own hands. It means learning the cycles and seasons of these plants, and applying that knowledge to the creation of new formulas and products. It also means holding reverence for this knowledge, and sharing openly the things that I have learned so that others are also empowered create for themselves with their own hands.

    To me, handmade represents the spirit, passion, drive, and gumption of the maker who has made the bold decision to listen to an inner voice and put a piece of themselves out into the world, and who is forging the challenging but rewarding path of carving out a life as an entrepreneur and small business owner.

    Stocking shelves at Shop Groundswell - Wrangell, Alaska

    In the company of other handmade goods at Shop Groundswell

    To me, handmade is a tool for building and supporting community, and fostering more of the interpersonal connection we crave more of in our digital age. Purchasing a handmade item shortens the links in the chain of commerce, connecting you directly to the heart and mind that dreamed your product up and the hands that brought it to life. Dollars spent on handmade items support the ambitions and livelihoods of the makers who are dedicated to living their values, pushing creative boundaries, creating unique and authentic works, and contributing to a more localized and sustainable economy.

    In my own business, I’ve been fortunate to develop relationships with my customers and fellow makers that have led to meaningful conversation, new opportunities, and a great sense of fulfillment. These connections in part helped propel me to co-open Groundswell, a brick & mortar retail shop that houses my Gathered and Grown studio space and features the incredible work of other local makers.

    From my hands, for your hands

    Gathered & Grown herbal body care, made by my hands, for your hands

    “Handmade” means so many different things to each of us. So what does handmade mean to you? Why do you choose to shop handmade? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks so much to all my lovely G&G customers for shopping your values and continuing to support the values I see in the business of handmade.

     

    Special thanks to Asia Dore Photography for the imagery within this post

     

     

     

  • Self Care in The Backcountry

    Self Care in The Backcountry

    Alaskan summer is in full swing, and the season is prime for getting outta dodge to take advantage of all this magnificent landscape has to offer. Whether your summer trails lead you high up the mountain, deep into the woods, or far up river, the smallest of self care rituals can go a long way in keeping you comfortable, happy, and feeling like a goddess of the wilds on backcountry adventures.

    Read on for a few favorite ways to ‘treat yo’ self’ and live large, even while packing light.