Back to your Roots: Rainbow of beauty

SARAH SHEPHERD PHOTO Earth medicine in the author’s garden. Harvest of bee balm, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, basil and lavender.
SARAH SHEPHERD PHOTO Earth medicine in the author’s garden. Harvest of bee balm, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, basil and lavender.

Being in my garden is ritual. Witnessing the daily changes and needs that it has reminds me of the relationship that we are in. Planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting are all done with rhythmic intentions that make me proud to be an herbalist and gardener.

Island yards and gardens are bursting forth with force and color and the celebration of summer is marked by the rhythmic beauty that nature provides. Monarchs returning to feed on the native butterfly weed and honeybees swarming from the hive are living examples of this natural rhythm.

Our skies are blessed with hawks, ospreys and eagles and the fields are rich with bounty for people and pollinators. Whether you choose to have a few houseplants or a yard full of seasonal beauty and color, Island living is good.

This is the time of year I am diligently harvesting and drying the leaves and flowers of so many useful plants I have growing around my home and garden. Most things I have or wanted for the season are already in the ground. Some transplants are still waiting to find their place in soil. The wild ones that grace our fields and meadows are abundant and are ready for me to collect for herbal medicine.

Bundles of aromatic plants are drying all over my home and blossom-filled baskets and dried herbs are filling up my shelves one jar at a time. The plants used in the products I make are at their peak vitality.

Making plant medicine from them is a rewarding process.

Preparing teas and infusing herbal oils, tinctures and flower essences are some of my favorite summertime tasks that have year round benefits. Using fresh or dried blossoms, leaves and roots I can co-create with my garden a rainbow of earth medicine that supports my family, friends and community.

One of the ways I like to share this is at the week at the farmers market on the grounds of the Shelter Island Historical Society. And that’s where you will find me this summer.

There is a rainbow harvest of beautiful artisanal foods, biodynamic vegetables, herbs and flowers each Saturday morning through Labor Day, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., local vendors from Shelter Island and the North Fork bring their goods, bounty and beauty to share and sell to islanders and visitors.

It offers a clear rhythm of eating with the seasons, buying locally and community supported agriculture. Each week people line up for their fresh seafood,  seasonal fruits and vegetables, and biodynamic bouquets and blooms to bring home to their kitchens and gardens. Sharing whole foods, green knowledge, live music, and hula hooping… that’s where I’ll be.