When reading an herbal book, it can be difficult to get a feel for what herbs actually look like when they’re growing. Some of us buy bottles of echinacea tincture at the health-food store and have no idea how to make it ourselves. The new video Medicinal Fields takes the viewer on both a tour of a successful herb farm and also demonstrates techniques for making medicines at home. All in all, the colorful video is a delight from start to finish, both educational and visually stunning.
Medicinal Fields is hosted by Jane Bothwell, an herbalist living in northern California. In part one of the video, Bothwell travels to Pacific Botanicals, a certified organic herb farm in southern Oregon’s beautiful Applegate Valley, to participate in a fall harvest of Echinacea purpurea. Mark and Marggy Wheeler, the owners of Pacific Botanicals, have been growing echinacea since 1980 and also grow several other herbs, including herbs that are native to China and India. The Wheelers take the viewer on a tour of part of their farm and demonstrate the appropriate technique for harvesting herbs at home. Brilliant fields of echinacea and California poppy brighten the landscape of the 114-acre farm.
In part two, Bothwell brings the viewer into her home for “tincturing class with Jane,” a thorough, start-to-finish demonstration of the tincture-making process. Tincturing terms are carefully explained, and a reference chart that lists the ratio of herbs to alcohol for a variety of tinctures is especially helpful. Bothwell demonstrates how to make tinctures from both fresh and dried herbs, as well as explaining the different methods for alcohol- and glycerin-based tinctures. Bothwell also provides a recipe for Spicy Cider–a zesty blend of garlic, horseradish, cayenne, gingerroot, and other herbs–that can be used as a salad dressing or taken as a tincture to prevent colds.
Throughout the video, close-ups and still shots of several different herbs are provided, and each herb is identified by common name. Several reminders about herb overharvesting are given, and a portion of the video’s proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit herb conservation group United Plant Savers.
Plant Dance Productions, forty minutes, $19.95 plus $2.75 shipping and handling.
Available by calling (707) 442-8157 or writing 4803 Greenwood Heights Dr., Kneeland, CA 95549; www.dandelionherb.com.