Windy Hollow Farm’s Seed to Salve Retreat is an experience in wildcrafting, gardening, medicine making, herb walks and farm fresh meals on the beautiful Mendocino Coast in Point Arena, CA. Over the summer I stayed the weekend in the farmstead cabin, cozy and painted red with a loft and wood burning stove that I shared with my lovely fellow camper. The weekend was transformative to put it lightly. Cell service was next to non-existent, but this actually became one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. While I could have roamed around the property in search of a spotty connection, I instead put my phone on airplane mode to save the battery so I could take endless photos of all the native plants like yarrow, calendula and poppies that I was learning about. It was so freeing. I actually felt lighter.
The retreat was broken down into a thoughtful schedule, allowing us to spend time on all the steps of “Seed to Salve” herbal medicine making: planting, growing, harvesting and preparing fresh herbs for use in a multitude of ways. We crafted actual tonics, tinctures and salves to take home with us. During all these lessons you also learn a lot about the history of herbal medicine and the philosophies behind it. Specifically, we talked about folk method style and how it belongs to all and there are no concrete recipes and how it should be shared with everyone.
The experience on Windy Hollow Farms gave me a whole new appreciation for nature’s bounty and the beauty surrounding me right here in California. Before I became the lead designer at Bell and Trunk nearly a year ago, I started out as an apprentice on a Cedar Farm Wholesale Flower Farm in Upstate New York, where I was born and raised. While at the flower farm I learned all about growing and tending to flowers with the utmost care. While in the world of floral design, the focus is primarily on the aesthetic beauty of the blooms we use. While it’s important to know where our flowers come from and to buy local as much as possible, we are often limited by what’s available at the San Francisco Flower Mart, as well Vanessa’s small cut-flower garden in Oakland. This retreat offered me something very new and soul changing about the flowers we choose, a deeper levele of appreciation.
I learned that garden variety blooms like lavender and geranium— flowers I hold so dear — actually have a powerful affect on the mind and body. Products containing these essential oils, while claiming to be “calming” or “stress relieving,” often have real, pure healing power that do bring those feelings on but also can activate much deeper healing. It was transformative to learn about how I can use these plants to nurture, care for, and heal my body and mind — plants that I can grow just outside my door.
Now when I’m at the San Francisco Flower Market doing the buying for Bell and Trunk, I see myself gravitate more towards these native plants I learned about. I find ways to incorporate them whenever possible. I also have learned the while I may no longer be working on a flower farm, these flowers are still coming from “somewhere” and I try to be conscious of that as often as I can be.
Through this experience and working with flowers, I’ve learned the importance of living my life in balance with nature — to spend more time outside, dig in the dirt, understand how plants grow, find buds that heal wounds, and ultimately understand the importance of a holistic medicinal lifestyle.
While I am still stubborn about giving up some parts of my life, like certain foods or quick relief medicines to ease pains like allergies. in order to become more holistic I've started taking note of what I put in and on my body and seeing the small differences has been astonishing. Right now I’ve really made efforts to change my beauty and personal hygiene routines to being more plant based and chemical free. Whether you are a florist, a farmer, a tech person, a hairstylist…whatever…it is important to learn to live a life in balance with the world around you. I have an entire notebook full of invaluable information from this experience that I will cherish and pass along to those I love.
If you are interested in attending the retreat you can find out more information on Windy Hollow Farm’s website listed below. Believe me, you won’t regret it.
Visit: www.windyhollowfarmca.com for details and registration.