I've opened an Etsy shop for my herbs. Because the thing about herbs — I mean, I feel the need to explain since I'm the only one I know who's in love with them — is that they're some kind of magic. I was volunteering at Stearns Farm, minding my own beeswax, when I realized it. Just plugging along weeding vegetables every weekend. Then it struck me that I could learn what makes people say herbs are medicine. It seemed like a terrible waste to let Stearns's three herb gardens all die off for the winter without knowing what the heck they did.
Research is always the answer. One Kindle book later, I grew obsessed with lemon balm, which seemed like an easy one to identify, and it's pretty safe to try if there's nothing wrong with you. And Stearns had some! Cue the trumpets. Then I realized the farm had quite a few beginner-friendly herbs that I could play with: dandelion and burdock and red clover and comfrey (all this in addition to the calendula I began collecting around that time).
Over the winter, with my small store of herbs stashed in a drawer, I did more reading. And in the spring, I took over the herb gardens.
As I got to know the plants, I realized there were more medicinal uses than I would ever need, and that there's no point in taking medicines you don't need. All those wonderful plants, and I'd get to try only one minuscule amount of the non-culinary varieties.
Thankfully, history is full of herbal uses beyond eating: Luck! Protection! Love! Strength! The list goes on and on, and I read and learned and fell a little bit more in love every day. I could use them without having to eat them. For someone with food sensitivities out the ears, that is a very big deal.
I've done my fair share of reading and experimenting with my herbs. I love them all. It seems unnatural to me that they've fallen out of favor in our society (even as I know that's due in part to devaluing traditional women's knowledge and I could probably write a book about it. Or it's been done, right? Witches, Midwives, and Nurses. But I digress). In my small way, I like sharing these ancient uses for herbs and showing off how pretty they can be. And it's another way of supporting our little family, one that comes from something I've grown and made and can feel proud of.