Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition herb discussion bears fruit

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DEXTER — Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition’s (DDATT) Aug. 4 First Friday public discussion at the Abbott Memorial Library featured local grower and herbalist Linda Tisdale, owner of Alchemilla Herbal Apothecary. Over two dozen area people learned and shared knowledge of the many foods, flavors, and medicines that surround us.

Tisdale began by explaining that isolating an ”active ingredient” from an herb (as is done by the dominant pharmaceutical industry) does not have the healing potential that the full plant possesses. She encouraged the participants to notice what plants grow around us, learn their biological names to clearly and consistently identify them (and not depend on common names which are often confusing), and use our senses of smell and taste, not just sight, in the identification process. Get to know 10 plants really well, and these will form the basis for an herbal apothecary. Different herbs have, over centuries of use, been found to help different physical and emotional ailments, but it takes a while to learn their careful applications.

A few hours before the evening talk began, Tisdale walked around her Dexter property and gathered samples of a few dozen wild and cultivated herbs to pass among the attendees. Many were familiar (such as plantain, ground ivy, burdock, and valerian), others not so much (usnea, golden thread and golden seal, St John’s Wort, mullein, and teasel, for example). Many attendees also shared their extensive herbal knowledge to answer questions about how to use each herb, which part of the plant works best for a specific ailment, and how to use moderation in all applications. When in doubt, be cautious. More is not always better. And when harvesting in the wild, never take more than you need; indeed, Tisdale has often brought threatened species home to her garden to help perpetuate them in the face of too much public pressure.

Learning more about the natural resources all around us is a major part of DDATT’s mission, to help our area reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create a more stable rural economy. The next First Friday discussion’s topic is grass fed animals, on Friday, Sept. 1.

For more information on DDATT and future events, email to get on email news list or call 277-4221 or 924-3836.

Photo courtesy of DDATT
HEARING ABOUT HERBS — Linda Tisdale displays and explains dozens of local herbs and their uses to attentive audience Friday, Aug. 4 at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter during a Dexter Dover Towns in Transition First Friday discussion.

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