All posts by Leah Wolfe

Leah Wolfe, MPH, is a community herbalist and health educator at the Trillium Center. Learn more at trilliumcenter.org

Why I Hate the Color Pink

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Me at 7 with my brother Nate, age 5.

I was 6 or 7 years old when the fire started. Something ignited in the back of an El Camino or maybe it was a pick-up truck. My 7-year old mind didn’t hold on to such details. But I do remember that the fire started in the bed of this vehicle. I remember voices screaming about the full tank of gas and the gas can in the bed of the truck. I remember having to put a coat on over my pajamas. But the thing I remember the most was that I was sick. Puking sick.

The first lesson my 7-year old self learned: don’t live in a house with only one door. Because what I remember next is that when the fire started we escaped the house by going toward the fire. As I was shuttled to the backyard for cover, I remember the way the flames undulated and licked the trees. Everyone was praying that the fire department might arrive before the trees caught fire. At that time and for many years after, our town had only a volunteer-based fire station and many of them lived in surrounding towns, not in our town. Even though the fire station was a few blocks away, the firefighters were not there and were being dispatched from their homes. Meanwhile time stopped while the fire burned.

Important detail. I grew up in the small town that made national news in 2016 by being desperately threatened and evacuated during the Blue Cut Fire. It burned more than 36,000 acres, destroying 105 homes and 213 outbuildings. Hundreds of fires consume the landscape every year.

Wildfires are a terrifying, natural part of that landscape.

So here we are in the middle of the San Bernardino/Angeles National Forests with a truck on fire in the front yard. My next lesson is that fire is a wild consuming dragon that can zip out of control. Fire runs up and down mountainsides scorching everything in its path. Fire is fast and indifferent. Fire is ravenous and greedy.

And yet, fire is life.

Fire is warm, energetic, and passionate. Fire is communication, zipping through our phones and computers. Fire is in our bodies, enlivening our nervous systems, allowing our muscles to move, and when fire gets blocked it leads to inflammation and disease. With fire comes great risk, death, destruction, pollution of the other elements: earth, water, and air.

But when fire is balanced with the elements of earth, water, and air, there is vitality. These sacred elements are the foundation of many traditions. Herbalism, medicine, religion, politics, and philosophy were understood in relation to the four elements in indigenous societies.

There is a story that I know little about, but it rests on the four elements, the four directions, and the four races that were responsible for protecting the elements. The white race was responsible for fire, the yellow for air, the red for earth, and the black for water. (If you know this story, please contact us. I want to know more.) It is easy to see how fire is exploited; not honored or protected. The pursuit of fire plundered water, earth, and air to the point that many of us wonder how we can survive with all of the pollution.

So here I am considering my own relationship with fire. When I saw the flames shooting out of the barn into the trees I was overtaken with fear and shocked when Charles said “it’s beautiful.” When I finally caught hold of my breath, I remembered that he was a firefighter for ten years in a damp climate where forest fires are uncommon. Standing there watching the core of our personal local food system burn, I was seven years old. I was remembering the glance I had of the fire in the truck, I was remembering the fires that regularly consume southern California, I was remembering the arson in North Dakota, but mostly I was remembering the burn of regurgitated Pepto-Bismol and why I hate the color pink.

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We want to express gratitude to those who have already visited to help and offer support: Will and Gretchen from Cherry Hill Ecological Farm, Patrick and Julia from Octagon Acres, Max and Marilyn from Happy Greens, herbalist Nicki Schneider, herbalist Leslie Alexander from Restoration Herbs, and Jo Feterle from Red Sky Apiary.

Since the fire, we’ve been a bit overwhelmed with text messages and emails. I have allowed myself to set them aside and just say here, that they are appreciated. I understand that many of you want to help and so here are some ways in which you can help depending on your resources and traditions.

  • Consider your relationship with fire
  • Burn a traditional incense for prosperity (in the Irish tradition that I feel strongly connected to through ancestry and my practice of herbalism, the plants of prosperity include peppermint, coltsfoot, fir tips, bayberry, comfrey, sage and vervain)
  • Lay down or burn tobacco or corn meal
  • Help us rebuild (sign up to get updates through the newsletter icon in the left hand column)
  • Bring or send food or other comfort items (contact us for the address if you don’t have it)
  • Send money to help us recover at our donation page: https://trilliumcenter.org/how-to-help/

Much gratitude to you all and to the element of fire for reminding us of the tenuous nature of life and death.

Community Herbal Intensive 1

Early Bird Discount is extended until February 15!

These are some of my favorite pictures from the four years that I have been teaching the community herbal intensives. I have been so happy to work with all these lovely people as they expand their herbal knowledge. They all brought insight and experience to classes that helped all of us learn more about integrating herbs into daily living.

Join the Community Herbal Intensive 2018!

Here are some of the herbal and foraging skills you will develop by attending this monthly series:

  • Basic botany and plant identification
  • From field to apothecary: wild crafting, foraging, and garbling
  • Medicine making: oils, salves, tinctures, cordials, and more
  • Materia medica: the study of herbal actions
  • Constitution and Energetics: how to match the herbal actions in plants to people
  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Creating herbal projects
  • Basic herb safety

Learn more at: https://trilliumcenter.org/about/trillium-center/community-herbal-intensives/

Or click here to request an application: https://trilliumcenter.org/contact-us/

Early Bird Discount is offered until February 15!

7 Lake Erie Mushrooms

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I’ve been walking in the woods and coming across several common mushrooms. It’s not a gathering time of year, but it’s nice to know where they are if I ever need them. Several medicinal and edible mushrooms are common in NE Ohio and NW Pennsylvania. Some more common than others. Chaga, once common in my area is now on United Plant Savers at-risk list. Partly, because it isn’t easy to grow like oyster or turkey tail mushrooms.

I am offering a short class on seven common mushrooms. It will focus on 7 mushrooms that are common to the area. I have been using these mushrooms for many years as food and medicine. Learn the basic identification skills, ethics of gathering, medicinal uses, energetics, and methods of making teas, broths, and tinctures. Mushrooms include turkey tails, chanterelles, varnished conk (aka reishi), chicken of the woods, artist’s conk, hen of the woods, and boletes. For those who will never pick wild mushrooms, I will offer tips on purchasing growing kits or mushroom powders and other preparations.

Mushrooms offer many nourishing and healing qualities. They are known to make vitamin D even after they’ve been picked. They are high in trace minerals and polysaccharides. Learn more about what they do, how they might work, and what to do with them.

7 Lake Erie Mushrooms

January 27, 2-6 PM

Center for Growth
2049 West Prospect Rd (Rt 20)
Ashtabula, Ohio 44004

Sliding-scale donation $20-40*

 

How to register:

Sign up is requested by Jan. 20 using our contact page with the word “mushrooms” in the comment block: https://trilliumcenter.org/contact-us/

*When a donation range is offered, it is called a sliding-scale donation, meaning pay what you can afford in the range. If you can pay more, it means you are paying it forward. Payment options will be sent to you when you sign up.

 

100_1923This class is taught by herbalist and forager Leah Wolfe. Leah has been studying herbs and philosophies around healing for 25 years and teaching for more than 10 years. She completed a masters degree in public health in 2009. She has been teaching in NE Ohio at the Trillium Center, an educational project she co-founded) since 2013.

 

 

Learning Wild Plants One Month at a Time

These are some of my favorite pictures from the four years that I have been teaching the community herbal intensives. I have been so happy to work with all these lovely people as they expand their herbal knowledge. They all brought insight and experience to classes that helped all of us learn more about integrating herbs into daily living.

Join the Community Herbal Intensive 2018!

Here are some of the herbal and foraging skills you will develop by attending this monthly series:

  • Basic botany and plant identification
  • From field to apothecary: wild crafting, foraging, and garbling
  • Medicine making: oils, salves, tinctures, cordials, and more
  • Materia medica: the study of herbal actions
  • Constitution and Energetics: how to match the herbal actions in plants to people
  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Creating herbal projects
  • Basic herb safety

Learn more at: https://trilliumcenter.org/about/trillium-center/community-herbal-intensives/

Or click here to request an application: https://trilliumcenter.org/contact-us/

Early Bird Discount is offered until February 1!

St. John’s Wort Immersion

In the depths of winter, a special workshop and initiation will be held to celebrate the plant…

St. John’s wort.

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January 12-13, 2018
Ashtabula, Ohio

REGISTER HERE

St. John’s wort is known for its ability to “let in the light” and as a healer of wounds. Come learn of the vast physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing qualities of this common weed.

During this immersion and initiation you will learn about this plant through your senses. You will taste and smell tea, tincture, flower essence, and more. You will feel oil on your skin. We will start with the herbal actions that St. John’s wort has on the body. Then, explore the emotional and mental healing St. John’s wort offers to the mind. Finally, to experience the spiritual aspects of the plant, we will work with visualizations and the dreaming aspects of plant medicines.

Together, we will make an elixir of St. John’s wort and will talk about how to identify it in the field. We will cover the chemistry, history, herbal actions, energetics, folklore, and traditional uses of this herb that is popular today as an antidepressant herb. Come learn how St. John’s wort is much, much more…  and why using it incorrectly may bring you the thing you are trying to avoid.

We will begin in the evening on Jan 12 so we can experience setting of the sun and the morning sun shining on Lake Erie while delving into the healing of St. John’s wort during the darkest days of winter. We will end on the evening of Jan 13 after spending 24 hours learning and sensing and experiencing the vitality of this illuminating herb. The class will be held at a lake side home in the historic harbor district of Ashtabula, Ohio.
SJW tincture
Homeopathic doses and flower essences will be offered for participants concerned about drug interactions.

REGISTER HERE

The cost of the program is $85-100 per person depending on whether you’d like a bed or would like to take a couch. Fees cover lodging, class materials and supplies, and instructor costs.

Herbs & Ticks

Oh, tick season.

I mean, uh oh, tick season.

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Dipsacus fullonum

Ticks & Herbs

February 24, 2-5 PM

Center for Growth
2049 West Prospect Rd (Rt 20)
Ashtabula Ohio 44004

Ticks have struck fear into many, making them wary of wandering in the woods or the fields. Understanding ticks helps you avoid them and take some of the fear out of the wilderness. This presentation includes historical information, a public health perspective, and herbal approaches to ticks and tick-borne illnesses. Learn public health and first aid tips to help you prevent infection and inflammation from tick bites.

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Echinacea purpurea

Topics covered include:

Is that a Tick?
Types of Tick-Borne Infections
History
Signs and Symptoms
When to Seek Medical Care
Prevention
Understanding Ticks
What to Wear
How to Check
First Aid and Home Care for Tick Bites
What NOT to Do
How to Remove
Acute Inflammation
Chronic Inflammation

Leah Wolfe learned about ticks while living at an infested farm in Wisconsin. She is trained as a wilderness first responder, street medic, public health educator, and herbalist.

Sliding-scale donaton: $0-60.

No one will be turned away for lack of funds. If you can pay on the higher end, consider that you are paying it forward for those folks who can’t.

Contact us if you’d like us to save you a seat!

Or make an online donation at: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/13913