Last Week at the Wilderness Certification Program we had Karen Sherwood from Earthwalk Northwest come out and teach more ethnobotany. On day one we made Cedar bark baskets. The strips were collected by Karen herself 6 months prior to class! 6 months, we learned, is the minimum drying time before cedar bark is ready to be worked. The weaving process is very much like meditation. Your basket becomes your whole universe while you weave over two, under two, over one, under one...
The twining was done with sweetgrass (rush) and functions to keep the bark taught. The dark strip seen is of cherry bark interwoven, and it not only adds to the aesthetics of the basket but makes it easy to find if you set it down out in the woods.
On Thursday Karen taught us how to make our own medicine in the form of tinctures. This is relatively easy and anyone who is looking to be their own doctor (for minor ailments only!) can benefit from making tinctures. We gathered cedar leaves and devils club roots, wiped them down, put them in a jar, and filled it with strong vodka (100 proof). Alcohol draws out the medicinal properties of plants over time. The only steps to follow after that are: shake the jar at least once a day, and bottle the tincture any time after one full moon cycle (28 days).
The photo above showa tinctures made of Oregon Grape root (thanks Jason and last year's class) and Angelica seed. Oregon grape stimulates liver functions and skin metabolism. It is also an anti-microbial for the skin and digestive tract. Angelica seed tincture is soothing to the cramped or upset stomach, and can help suppress excessive vomiting.
On Friday, Adam Rawson came out again to discuss mapping, triangulation, and windbreak on properties. We learned, upon observing pooling water in the middle of our barn, that drainage is the issue of importance in the Pacific Northwest. This is different than most of the world, which needs to concentrate highly on water storage because importing exotic water creates air pollution and may contribute to global warming. After Friday, and seeing all the pooling water on the property, I have had numerous thoughts on how to store all of this rainwater and make it usable to us throughout the dry months. Using the natural slope of the property, we can channel all of the rainwater into basins, ponds, or tanks that will store our water. If we want to make this water potable for our consumption, lining the tanks with limestone or marble will clean the water (these wonderful stones remove acids, metals, and salts from our water, making it alkaline and ready for drinking and washing).
-Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. Red Crane Books, 1993
-Mollison, Bill. Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. Tagari Publications, 1988