I had some great conversations this week with new people about herbalism. One man was from the local ‘The Old Fort’. He asked me about Bee Balm (Monarda)— which we grew last year and loved! (We actually grew Monarda didyma.) I encouraged him to use it as a tea, since they were not sure if it was just used as an ‘aromatic herb’ or for cooking. He told me a story of essential oil distillers from overseas who visited the Fort after attending a work conference at IPFW. He shared how they were fascinated with the herb since they do not grow it where they are from. That right there is the beauty of growing North American herbs. We can continue to pass on herbal knowledge not found in other places. I told him how it was the preferred ‘patriotic’ drink for a time while the settlers were boycotting British tea tax— which is why another common name for it is still Oswego tea.
He told me of all the educational experiences they offer to school aged children and I encouraged him to continue the herbal study for whatever time period they were using. Many of the herbs used by the natives and the settlers will flourish on the land and can be useful. He grabbed some of our seeds and I hope to talk to him again about some possible collaboration.