If you asked me to define community, I would ramble on about people gathering over shared meals, common interests or for the goal of our “greater good.” I would say that a strong sense of community leads to happy and healthy people because they feel loved and supported. I would tell you a strong sense of community was one of my biggest values and sometimes it takes time to build.
Since moving back to New Hampshire in December, I have begun to rebuild my community. This month I had the privilege of attending a workshop put on by GALA (Global Awareness, Local Action) whose overall mission includes “strengthening community by bringing people together to discover passions and cultivate skills that enrich rural lives and livelihoods.” Living sustainably seems to be a huge value of theirs, not just in an environmental sense, but an all-encompassing-holistic-community-building-everyone’s-voice-is-important type of way.
My friend Liz and I attended one of GALA’s Re-Skill-ience workshops. What is a Re-skill-ience workshop you might ask? Great question. They are hands on workshops that focus on homesteading, sustainable living, and traditional bushcraft skills. Their goal is to strengthen personal and community resilience. Our workshop was called Wildcrafting Food and Medicine in Summer. Carol Felice, a fun local herbalist, taught our class and it was incredible the amount of plants she knows and can talk at great lengths about…. but I am getting ahead of myself.
I had always been interested in edible & medicinal plants and was stoked at the opportunity to attend this workshop. Our class had about 8 folks. We took the time to go around and introduce ourselves, a nice icebreaker. It was a lovely summer night and the view at Moody Mountain Barn in Wolfeboro was a bit magical. After introductions, we walked around the property and Carol pointed out edible and medicinal plants around. Our goal was to pick a plant around that we would eventually make a salve out of. We talked about chickweed and goldenrod and lambsquarters and more. I ate some yellow wood sorrel, which tasted like a sweet lemon. Yum. Over time everyone decided on their plant. I chose Yarrow, a hardy plant from the daisy family that has feathery leaves and is apparently a great astringent. Once sold on the plants medicinal properties I picked enough to fill my little jar full and headed back to the barn to continue our learning.
On the walk back, it was easy to notice the exchange of life stories between people, shared plants making faces pucker or mouths water; everyone seemed a little lighter, a shared connection. Making the infused oil itself was simpler than I had previously believed: my jar was filled with yarrow & extra virgin organic olive oil; I made sure all the air bubbles were out and capped the jar closed. Currently it’s a waiting game of 6 weeks until the infused oil will be ready. Then I will decant the jar, melt some beeswax and ta-da: a Yarrow salve! That’s the overall jist of it anyway; there are more details and helpful hints, luckily detailed directions were supplied by Carol for future use. My friend Liz made her infused oil with Red Clover. This is apparently a good oil for skin: rashes, bites, aches and pains. Red clover also makes a good tea too! The night ended with Carol taking an arnica infused oil and melting beeswax to show us how to do the last step of the salve making process. We each got a jar of arnica in the end and I ended leaving with more knowledge, interest, and new skills!
This month they have a workshop on Friction Fire Using the Bow & Drill Method. Does it sound like something you’d be interested in? Carol also teaches at the Remick Museum. You just never know when that information might come in handy!