Monday, February 29, 2016

Herbal Steams

Herbal Steams for Winter

A hundred years ago, people didn’t have the medications available today for curing coughs, colds and flu. They relied on herbs grown in the garden and found along sunny edges of forests and by roadsides. Every house had its own ‘kitchen garden’ growing vegetables as well as herbs to spice the soup. Those found growing wild are what we today call ‘weeds’, a highly mistaken term considering that these plants store vitamins, minerals and other properties that make them excellent healers.

One of the remedies our ancestors used for winter ills was the steam. In a large pot of water on the wood stove, they added herbs carefully dried and stored from last summer. Breathing the steam of the herbs brings relief, as decongesting sinuses and bronchial passages open the airways and allow for easy breathing. The steam also replaces moisture in the lungs that become dried out from extreme outdoor temperatures and dry indoor heat.

Coltsfoot- Coltsfoot helps loosen and expel phlegm.
In a steam, Coltsfoot will break up congestion in the
sinuses, bronchial passages and lungs.

Comfrey- Comfrey relieves swelling and produces
mucous to sooth scratchy sore throats. In a steam,
Comfrey is a lung tonic and used for colds, bronchitis
and laryngitis.

Eucalyptus- Eucalyptus is an aromatic herb with
disinfectant properties. Used in a steam, Eucalyptus
will reduce the inflammation of colds and flu,
decongest the airways, and help bring down a fever.

Goldenrod- In a steam, Goldenrod is used to reduce
inflammation in upper respiratory conditions such as colds
or flu. (Contrary to the myth, Goldenrod does not cause hay
fever, in fact it reduces bronchial inflammation.)

Mullein- Mullein reduces inflammation in the respiratory
system. Use Mullein in a steam to relieve congestion and
tone the lungs, as this plant is good for colds, bronchitis,
laryngitis and flu. Turn your ears to the steam and Mullein
will help to relieve earaches.

Peppermint- Peppermint is an aromatic plant with strong
oils that relieve congestion in the sinuses, chest and lungs
when used in a steam. Peppermint will also bring down
fevers by promoting perspiration.

Sage- Sage is an aromatic plant used for cleansing and
purification by the Native people. When used in a steam,
Sage soothes inflamed mucous membranes and helps
relieve congestion in the sinuses, chest and lungs.

Stinging Nettle- Stinging Nettles strengthens and supports
the entire body through a high concentration of vitamins
and minerals. In a steam, Stinging Nettles stimulates
the respiratory system and helps rebuild damages tissues.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Healthy recipes for you and your family.

Now that the days are getting longer and the kiddos will be out of school soon, picnic's, play dates and fun times outdoors will be common. 

It's easy to make cold cut sandwiches or get take out for these days but here are some healthy options and ideas to bring along with you to the beach park or anywhere else you might be headed. 

Healthy snacks are great for kids and adults alike on fun days out. 
Here are some helpful hints to make heathy snacking a breeze.
1. Packing your snacks in snack size bags makes them easy to grab and go and also helps with portion control. You can even snag some reusable sandwich bags or snack containers which are great, that way you wont have to worry about tossing them if there isn't a trash can around and its better for the environment. 

3. Keep healthy snacks and treats in separate areas that way kids can help themselves to the healthy snacks but have to ask you for treats. 

4. Planning ahead will make a healthy day out a breeze. Prepping your snacks beforehand will help make sure you don't have to stop and grab unhealthy snacks on the run. 

3. Rethink left overs and plan todays meal for tomorrow's day out. This can be a creative way to use the day before's left overs to help you with a healthy meal for your day out with the family. For example you could make chicken for dinner and use your leftovers to make a healthy chicken salad. 

Here is a great recipe to use for a healthy version of egg salad.

Home Made Egg Salad

8 Large Eggs
2/3 cups plain Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
( feel free to leave this out )

-Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover
with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and
cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid
and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes.
Drain well and let cool before peeling and dicing.
-In a large bowl, roughly mash eggs with Greek yogurt,
-mayonnaise, seasoning, salt and pepper, to taste.

Have fun and be healthy! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Community Gardening

The day is so beautiful that it had me thinking about gardening! If you don't have the space or time to commit to a full garden of your own community gardening is a great program to get involved with. There are many ways to get involved with community gardening . 

1. Volunteering is great!! Volunteers make these gardens possible. This doesn't even have to be structured volunteering. Basically if you see a weed in a community garden feel free to pull it, just make sure its not actually a plant someone planted there ;) As always if you are interested in volunteering with the CCRM feel free to call our offices at 716-366-1787.

2. Start seeds- for your local food pantry or other organizations in the community, such as a church or school program.

3. Grow a row. This a great thing to do to help your local pantry have healthy local fruits and veggies to offer to those in needs. You can do this by simply donating a row of the crops you grow to support healthy nutrition in your community. This can really make a difference to a family that would otherwise go without fresh food.  

4. Spending family time- Gardening is a really great way to get outside with your kids and enjoy the sunshine, while teaching them where their food comes from and how it grows. This is also a great way to disconnect from their technology and reconnect with nature.  

Okay, now go enjoy the beautiful sunshine & garden :). 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tis the season

Tis the season to being getting your gardens ready to plant ( up north anyway, I know you southerners have been enjoying the bounty of your gardens already.)

We have been working hard at the CCRM getting our community gardens in shape for this season.
We worked with the local Boys and Girls Club and cleaned the gardens as well as turned over soil to get our garden boxes ready to plant.

Check out these hard workers!

We also began some work on the BOCES garden with their hardworking students. We tilled the garden, added in some much needed manure and built some raised bed. 
Check out the before and after photos. 


 (During)  ( excuse my finger ) 


Using garden beds are great to grow an abundance of vegetables in a small space. These are also most effective in areas with contaminated soil or where flooding is common to allow for drainage. 

These beds are also great for your little ones because it allows a trench or path for them to admire the garden without stepping on or harming the plants. 

Hope you are all having a wonderful spring and are working  hard on getting your gardens ready for planting. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Upcoming Events in April!

Greetings Everyone!
It is finally APRIL and the weather report promised me above freezing temperatures.  
Seeds are started, nestled away in their little pots and snow drops are emerging amid tufts of brown grass and we have a slew of workshops and events coming up this season.

April 7th - Starting Seeds and Gardening Basics at BOCES Fredonia with Jack Dugan's class.  His class has their own garden right next to the school so all the students can watch the progress of growth.

April 9th - Preserving Food Through Dehydration at Lake Shore Family Center in Silvercreek.  We will be teaching families how to dehydrate gleaned garden goodies and to make the dried food into delicious meals and snacks.  

April 21st - Homemade Granola Bars at the Boy's & Girl's Club in Dunkirk at 3:45 P.M.  We will be making enough healthy granola bars from scratch to give all the kids there a wholesome snack.  This way, we can teach the children what's in their food and how to make it better for them.

April 22nd - EARTH DAY! Get out and play.

April 25th - Adopt-a-Beach Clean Up Day at Point Gratiot in Dunkirk at NOON, hosted by Dr.Sam Mason of SUNY Fredonia.  Get out and show your support for your community and the environment by helping to clean up the beach.  

April 26th - Backyard Salsa Cooking and Nutrition Workshop 3:00 - 4:30 P.M at the Friendly Kitchen in Dunkirk (131 Central Ave.).  Sarah, Kelsey, and Kathleen from Enactus Greenwave at SUNY Fredonia will be hosting a workshop on growing a salsa-themed garden and we will be sampling various typed of salsas made in our kitchen!   

If you would like to volunteer at any of these events, please email me at

Take care!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Teaching Kids to Garden (& Surviving to Tell the Tale)

A: Because we can't afford another generation of children who grow up without the essential knowledge of how things work.

A: Whether they have a garden or not when the grow up, it is SO IMPORTANT to give them an appreciation of their food and a respect for the people who grow it. 

This being said, there is nothing more TERRIFYING than teaching a room full of 23 children (all under the age of twelve) how to plant seeds.  Sounds pretty simple, right? All you have to do is fill up
a cup with wet dirt, put a seed in it, and take care of it.  Easy, right? ... RIGHT?


Recently, I visited one of the after school day care programs to teach children there how to start seeds and take care of them.  I do this each spring and it is always a very rewarding experience because the kids appreciate trying something new and getting a little messy in the process.  

***It is also important to note that kids have the amazing, incomprehensible ability to amplify their voices 20x's louder than mine while thrashing about in a massive swarm of arms, legs, and dirt.  Children travel in swarms, did you know that?  

This is not to assume that children are always crazy and difficult teach!  They absorb information like little sponges and remember every. thing. you. say... so be careful.  Besides, kids are generally interested in how things work as well as what it takes to grow a big pumpkin, an itty bitty pepper, or a pretty  petunia.  Out of the massive swarm of children, a few of the kids took a big interest in gardening and asked me all sorts of questions about how things grow.  

Children who had experience with gardening told me stories of growing cucumbers with their grandmas, picking oranges from their old backyards in Puerto Rico, and finding HUGE worms in between carrots and beets.  

Gardening has a lasting affect on kids which (hopefully) carries on into their adulthood.To this day, I still remember weeding around the hostas with my mom and carrying stones from the woods and laying them around the garden beds.  Gardening is a life long process and you never stop learning and teaching others about it.  

IN CONCLUSION. Teach your kids how to grow food.  Teach your friends' kids how to grow food.  Teach your friends', friends' kids how to grow food!  And don't be scared of swarming children as it is just their natural habitat... but do bring earplugs.  

An image from Penrose Kid's Art Garden in Detroit. 

ALSO! Encourage kids to make art in the garden.  Have then paint stones to look like bugs, beetles, or bundt cakes.  Cut up old garden hose and paint them to look like snakes!  Make sculptures out of paper and mud and watch as the water washes them away.  Use old broken dishes and make a mural.  There are so many ways to engage children in the garden; all we have to do is use our creativity!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Growing Food in Containers

I grew up in the boonies.  There were hundreds of acres to choose from where I could pick a little plot to grow anything under the sun.  Needless to say, the concept of container gardening is somewhat new.

A view from my parents' home.

Now, after 5 years of moving around from apartment to apartment, I have begun to understand that most people living in the United States do not have the access to land in which to grow on.  Community gardens and yardsharing are all great answers to this problem, but what if there are none around you?

Lo and behold container gardening!!!!  Maybe not the perfect solution, but it is a great and super simple way to supplement your grocery bill and bring a little greenery into your life.

Here are some basics on container gardening to help you on your conquest to world peace!!!  Or where ever it is you're going next.

Figure Out Where You're Going to Grow:  Plants need light (in case you didn't know) so pick the sunniest spot in the house if your starting (and/or staying) indoors.  Preferably, choose a south facing window or invest in grow lights in case you're home is lacking in natural vitamin
Picture gleaned from
D.  You can actually use normal houselights to supplement natural light, but they are not effective as lights made specifically to mimic the sun.  

Choose the Right Container for the Right Plant:  The container must be large enough to support the plant you're growing, and it must allow for drainage.  Don't feel restricted to using store-bought pots: You can use 5-gallon buckets, cracked coffee mugs, window boxes, etc...

Pick a Good Soil Mix:  Purchase a good quality soil mix from a local provider or make your own by following the link in the heading. 

Create or Purchase an Eco-Friendly Fertilizer: There are recipes all over the internet for compost tea and other useful fertilizers.  Or make friends with farmers who have animals or a horse backing riding establishment to glean manure from them. 

Water: It's a pretty simple concept.  If you don't water often then your plants will die but if you water them too much then they will also die.  If you don't understand this then you don't deserve to have plants.  
Illustration by Elayne Sears of Mother Earth News

Please click on the links throughout this post to get a thorough understanding of container gardening!  Container gardening is a great way to bring the outdoors inside and to create a healthy environment to live in.