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8 forms of capital active hope agroecology agroforestry alder buckthorn Amazon anxiety apples arthritis back yard beans Bec Hellouin beech tree bees beneficial berries biochar biodigester biodiversity blackberries blackthorn book review brain brassica cage budget build building campesino capital card deck Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens christmas circular clay pot cleansers cleansing milks climate change climate emergency climate grief climate solutions climbers climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation container cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology courgettes crafts crisis crop protection Cross Quarter Festival cultural emergence culture cycles degraded design diary diversity DIY do it yourself dryland earth care Earth's energy ecoculture economics ecopoetry ecosystem ecosystem restoration camps ecosystems edges edible edible flowers education efficiency elder elderflowers elements elixir energy equinox ethics face mask fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs film firewood flower essence flowers food food forest food garden footbath forage foraging forest garden forest gardening forests fruit fruit leather fruit trees fungi future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin Give Nature a voice Glennie Kindred global poverty glut grapes greenhouse grief groundcover grow grow food grow your own growing guilds habitat habits handcream harvest harvests hawthorn hazel hazelnut healing shrubs healing trees health healthy soil heart health hedgerow hedging herbal herbal remedies herbal teas herbalist herbs holistic holistic planned grazing home homeless homemade wine homestead hope Hugelkultur humanure hummus hungry gap IBC tanks Imbolc incense increase yields Indigenous inexpensive influence inspiration International Womens Day jam keyline kitchen garden lacto-fermentation Lammas land landscape landscapes life lifestyle limeflowers livelihood livestock living labs logs lotion low cost low-impact Lush Spring Prize macerations Mangwende Orphan Care Trust market garden market gardening marmalade marshmallow mass heater meadowsweet medicinal microbes microfarm mimic mindset mitigation money moringa Mother Earth mulch multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nature connection nitrogen no dig no waste no-dig November nutrition nuts observe oca October off-grid oil cleansing orchard orchards organic organic gardening outdoor shower oven oxymel oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care peoplecare perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre permayouth pesto pests philippines pine tree pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators pollution polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating protection pruning prunings psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainforest rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regeneration regenerative regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter remedy renewable renewable energy resources restoration reuse revolution rhythms rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans sage salad salve Samhain schools Scotland scotts pine seasonal seasons seeds selfcare Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shade sheet mulching shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions sowing spiritual spring squash stacking functions stock-free straw straw bale summer sustainable Sweet Bay syntropic systems temperate terraces thistles thrutopia timber timber framing tincture tonic toolkit tools transformation trees upcycle urban veg garden vegan veganic vermicomposting vinegar walnuts waste water water cleansing watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild edges wild food wild garlic wildflower wildlife wine recipes wings winter winter greens winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms yarrow year-round food yield young people youth zai pits zone 00 zoning

Topics

8 forms of capital active hope agroecology agroforestry alder buckthorn Amazon anxiety apples arthritis back yard beans Bec Hellouin beech tree bees beneficial berries biochar biodigester biodiversity blackberries blackthorn book review brain brassica cage budget build building campesino capital card deck Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens christmas circular clay pot cleansers cleansing milks climate change climate emergency climate grief climate solutions climbers climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation container cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology courgettes crafts crisis crop protection Cross Quarter Festival cultural emergence culture cycles degraded design diary diversity DIY do it yourself dryland earth care Earth's energy ecoculture economics ecopoetry ecosystem ecosystem restoration camps ecosystems edges edible edible flowers education efficiency elder elderflowers elements elixir energy equinox ethics face mask fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs film firewood flower essence flowers food food forest food garden footbath forage foraging forest garden forest gardening forests fruit fruit leather fruit trees fungi future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin Give Nature a voice Glennie Kindred global poverty glut grapes greenhouse grief groundcover grow grow food grow your own growing guilds habitat habits handcream harvest harvests hawthorn hazel hazelnut healing shrubs healing trees health healthy soil heart health hedgerow hedging herbal herbal remedies herbal teas herbalist herbs holistic holistic planned grazing home homeless homemade wine homestead hope Hugelkultur humanure hummus hungry gap IBC tanks Imbolc incense increase yields Indigenous inexpensive influence inspiration International Womens Day jam keyline kitchen garden lacto-fermentation Lammas land landscape landscapes life lifestyle limeflowers livelihood livestock living labs logs lotion low cost low-impact Lush Spring Prize macerations Mangwende Orphan Care Trust market garden market gardening marmalade marshmallow mass heater meadowsweet medicinal microbes microfarm mimic mindset mitigation money moringa Mother Earth mulch multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nature connection nitrogen no dig no waste no-dig November nutrition nuts observe oca October off-grid oil cleansing orchard orchards organic organic gardening outdoor shower oven oxymel oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care peoplecare perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre permayouth pesto pests philippines pine tree pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators pollution polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating protection pruning prunings psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainforest rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regeneration regenerative regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter remedy renewable renewable energy resources restoration reuse revolution rhythms rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans sage salad salve Samhain schools Scotland scotts pine seasonal seasons seeds selfcare Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shade sheet mulching shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions sowing spiritual spring squash stacking functions stock-free straw straw bale summer sustainable Sweet Bay syntropic systems temperate terraces thistles thrutopia timber timber framing tincture tonic toolkit tools transformation trees upcycle urban veg garden vegan veganic vermicomposting vinegar walnuts waste water water cleansing watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild edges wild food wild garlic wildflower wildlife wine recipes wings winter winter greens winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms yarrow year-round food yield young people youth zai pits zone 00 zoning

Recipes from the Medicinal Forest Garden

Medicinal herbalist, Anne Stobart, shares forest garden recipes for menstrual complaints, regulating blood sugar levels, arthritis, urinary complaints, fruit leathers and even incense sticks.

Anne Stobart is a medical herbalist and herb grower based in Devon, UK. Over the years, she has planted and maintained a medicinal forest garden to provide supplies for herbal medicine in practice. Here she shares a selection of recipes using plants from her growing system.

Fresh nettle leaf tincture for arthritis or urinary complaints

You need: 

Several handfuls of freshly picked young nettle tops (use gloves!)
About 300ml spirit such as vodka or gin which is 40% alcohol by volume
A glass jam jar or preserving jar with an airtight lid

  1. Do not wash the leaves but pick off any damaged parts, dirt or insects.
  2. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces, discarding any tough stems or roots.
  3. Press the leafy material down in the glass jar, up to 5-10cm below the top, and cover with the spirit. Use a weight (small glass or preserving weights are ideal) to ensure that the plant material stays under the surface of the liquid. Add more spirit if necessary.
  4. Close the top and label the jar with plant name and date. Stand on a windowsill and turn and stir the mixture daily for 3-4 weeks.
  5. Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth and discard the solid plant material in the compost.
  6. Store in a labelled glass bottle, in a dark place.
  7. Nettle tincture can be taken at 1 tsp per day in a cup of water up to three times daily for arthritis or urinary complaints. 

Note: This tincture recipe can be used with other fresh plant material such as bilberry or birch leaves, elder or hawthorn flowers, as well as other plant parts such as chopped fresh cramp bark or Oregon grape roots. 

Dried ash bark tincture for regulating blood sugar levels

You need: 

Dried ash bark, 100g
Spirit 40% alcohol by volume, 300ml
White wine 10-12%, 300ml

  1. Place the dried bark in a glass jar.
  2. Mix the wine and spirit and pour over the bark in the jar, making sure the bark is fully covered.
  3. Stir well, screw on the top and leave to stand for four to six weeks, shaking every other day or so.
  4. Press and strain off the liquid, discard the spent bark in the compost, and bottle and label.
  5. This tincture is taken at 20 drops (1ml) up to three times per day before meals as a bitter tonic providing a digestive stimulant helping to regulate blood sugar levels. 

Note: This recipe for making a tincture based on dried plant material can be used with a wide range of plants. If a harvest has been exceptionally large then some plant material can be dried for later use, and this method of making a tincture can be used. 

Chokeberry fruit leather

You need: 

Fresh ripe chokeberries, approximately 500g weight
Cold water, 100ml
Tray and greaseproof paper 

  1. Check the fruit is clean, wash if necessary and place in a saucepan.
  2. Add the cold water and heat gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring to break up the fruit.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir and press the fruit through a sieve to make a purée. 
  4. Re-heat the purée, driving off water until it is fairly stiff.
  5. Spread the purée thinly on the greaseproof paper on a tray, up to 5mm thick.
  6. Allow to dry, either in a warm and airy place or at the lowest possible oven setting.
  7. Cut into squares or roll up pieces into tubes. This fruit leather can be used as a regular snack for anti-oxidant effects and to help regulate cholesterol and blood sugar. 

Note: A fruit leather can be frozen if not eaten straight away. Honey can be used as an alternative to sugar, it contains around 20% water but has other constituents which are antibacterial. 

Making a fruit leather

The preserving quality of sugar is also helpful in making fruit leathers, since the natural sugar content in a fruit purée is readily concentrated. Additional sugar may be needed for fruits that are somewhat sour in nature. The fruit purée is heated and water is evaporated until the purée is fairly stiff and can be spread out on a sheet of greaseproof paper to further dry. The dried fruit leather can be cut into squares or rolled up and also freezes well.

Raspberry leaf vinegar for digestion or menstrual complaints

You need: 

Fresh raspberry leaves, 50g (25g if dried) 
Apple or wine vinegar, 500ml 
Fliptop glass bottles 

  1. Place the raspberry leaves in a jar and add the vinegar. 
  2. Stir well, close the lid and stand in a cool, dark place for three weeks, shaking daily. 
  3. Strain, bottle the vinegar extract and label. Use within six months. 
  4. Take 1 tsp up to three times daily in water (or use in food) to help with digestion or menstrual complaints. 

Note: Herbal vinegars of this kind can be made with many healing plants including berries and leaves of chasteberry (Vitex agnus) for premenstrual complaints, and sage (Salvia officinalis) for menopausal hot flushes. The herb vinegar preparations will keep better if made with dried leaves or berries. 

Making incense sticks

You need: 

Leafy stems of Douglas fir, juniper and rosemary, 3-6 leafy stems about 25cm long 
Cotton string, 2m
Scissors

  1. Allow the stems to dry for a few days.
  2. Bundle the stems together and remove the leaves from the lowest 5cm of stems (use gloves as juniper is prickly).
  3. Fold over the very tips at the top of the bundle and tie the top of the bundle with the string in a knot so that two lengths of string are about equal.
  4. Wind one length of string tightly around the bundle down to the base. Then wind the other length down to the base and tie the two ends together.
  5. Trim the string and loose leaves.
  6. Allow to fully dry in an airy place for several weeks.
  7. Light the incense stick at the tip and place on a non-flammable surface. Gently blow out the flame and allow to smoulder.

Note: These incense sticks are traditionally made with sage (Salvia officinalis) but you can experiment with any aromatic plants.

This is an extract from Anne Stobart’s The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook, an extensive handbook with practical information on growing, harvesting and using medicinal trees and shrubs sustainably in a temperate climate, whether for self-sufficiency or profit.

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Further Resources

Watch

The Medicinal Forest Garden

Books

The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook
by Anne Stobart

Letting in the Wild Edges
by Glennie Kindred

Vital Skincare
by Laura Pardoe

Articles

Benefits of Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris)

Drying Herbs & Herbal Recipes with Glennie Kindred

Make Your Own Spring Tonic

About the Author

Anne Stobart is a medical herbalist and herb grower based in Devon, UK.

She is the author of The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook and runs various medicinal courses.