Preserving Traditions and Creating Opportunities Through Seed Saving

by Heather Rothbauer Wanish

Recycling, eating healthy, and carrying on a tradition…While you grow your garden and plan to harvest the results, you can combine all three of these ‘going green’ ideas. Seed saving offers opportunities for everyone to actively participate in, growing healthy food and helping the environment at the same time.

Chippewa Valley residents are focusing on seed saving and how it can positively impact their lives and businesses. Chip Kersten, owner of Pleasant Valley Produce, believes that many people participate in seed saving for a variety of reasons. “There are people that conduct seed saving from local native prairies to save the genetics of the plants and allow new plantings, re-establishing using this seed and keeping the seed genetics local,” Kersten explained. “Today, many people save seeds to ensure that new, open pollinated varieties, as well as varieties with a treasured past, survive into the future.”

Caleb Langworthy, owner of Blue Ox Farm, also believes that seed saving contributes positively to personal gardening knowledge. “By saving seeds from your garden, you gain the knowledge of what plant varietals work best with your specific soil type, lighting situation, and climate; it can be beneficial for getting earlier and better tasting vegetables,” he said. “When moving toward localizing more of our seed production, we gain an element of food security in a way that we didn’t have before.” As seeds are saved locally, the plant-base becomes those crops that do well within the region and everyone within that region becomes less dependent on seed companies that continue to consolidate and release fewer varieties onto the market.

Seed Saving Tips

Before you harvest vegetable seed, it is important to have planned ahead and either planted in blocks to isolate a variety or bagged individual blossoms to ensure the original characteristics and genetics of a variety are maintained and your seed is not cross-pollinated. I also highly recommend doing a germination test well before you plan on using your seed to make sure it is viable. This will save you disappointment with a batch of bad seed that isn’t sprouting in the spring when you are anxious to begin your garden.

Langworthy views the practice of seed saving as a way to maintain some power over one’s food consumption. “I’m very concerned about the ability of larger corporations to patent life and buy up seed varietals; I feel like this gives too much power to essentially unaccountable entities whose focus is profit, rather than the well-being and food security of people.”

Noel Kroeplin is on the worker-owner track at Just Local Food in downtown Eau Claire; she agrees that seed saving provides freedom from reliance on companies that develop hybrid seeds. The local food cooperative works with Seed Savers Exchange, an organization dedicated to saving North America’s diverse garden heritage while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity. Caleb Langworthy also recommends Seed Savers Exchange, as the organization provides seed saving instructions on the back of each packet ordered from them. “They tend to be a bit more expensive than other seed companies, but I find the service they provide is a valuable one and they can offer varieties found nowhere else,” he explained.

Tomato Seed Saving Example from Chip Kersten

The seed inside a tomato has a “gel” surrounding it. This gel contains growth inhibitors to keep the seed from sprouting inside the tomato. The gel needs to be broken down through fermentation to ensure viability of saved seed before it can be cleaned and dried. Some seed savers like to put the seeds through a 10% solution of TSP at this time to help kill organisms on the surface of the seed as well as remove organic oils. A 20 minute bath in 120 degree hot water also works. Next, very thorough drying is needed.

When a plant is grown from a seed whose parent plant is a hybrid, growers may find the resulting plant is not ‘true to type’. And, eventually, the plant will most likely become sterile, not produce seed, and the grower will be forced to purchase additional seed from the company producing the hybrid seeds. “By seed-saving open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, you are saving a stabilized seed, one that has been tested for generations and can be cultivated and saved from the same variety of plant for generations to come, thus reducing dependence on genetically modified seed,” Noel Kroeplin explained.

There are also cost savings associated with seed saving. “In terms of cost, while there is typically an initial investment when one begins saving seeds, you save money in the long run once you no longer need to buy seeds,” Kroeplin said. Chip Kersten agrees that cost saving is a benefit to seed saving. “Even those two-dollar packs of seed can add up if you plant a big garden,” he said. Seed saving is also a ‘green’ technique that means eliminating packaging and transportation costs associated with purchasing seeds commercially each year.

According to Kersten, seed saving can be a fairly easy, but sometimes time-consuming task. Those interested in seed saving need to do some research beforehand and should allocate time to the process. “You need to have an idea of which plants are annuals versus which plants are biennials. You might have to dig up and pot a biennial in this climate and put it in your greenhouse or basement for the winter,” Langworthy explained. It is also beneficial to understand how plants are pollinated and the distance and time needed for spacing out pollination cycles.

As more and more people begin growing their own food and planting gardens, seed saving is a popular trend. “Gardening and seed saving complement each other in both the larger ideal of localized food production, as well as the ethics of producing more of our own needs with acquired skill sets and knowledge,” Langworthy explained. “There are also people saving seed in order to have a supply in the event of a disaster with long-term food supply ramifications,” Kersten added.

Not only is seed saving good for the environment and a potential cost-savings opportunity, it can be a unique way to meet other like-minded individuals. “There are many groups of people saving seed who also like to trade, sell, or give away their seed. It can be a fun and rewarding hobby,” Kersten said. “Many unique varieties can be obtained through these swaps and many new friendships can be started from fellow seed savers around the globe.”

Overall, local growers are pleased with the move toward more seed saving. “Seed saving allows preservation of traditional heritage and ensures a food source that is not genetically modified,” Kroeplin stated. “There is also a certain satisfaction from growing plants from your own saved seed; it just feels good.”

Just Local Food — Seeds Available from Seed Savers

Lemon Boy Tomato: Cherry tomato that produces even in cool, wet climates

America Spinach: Slow growing, slow to bolt, heat and drought resistant

Wisconsin 55 Tomato: Excellent all-purpose tomato bred by JC Walker at the University of Wisconsin in 1940s

Bright Shining One Watermelons: Early maturing variety well-suited for northerly gardens

Scarlet Nantes Carrots: Excellent as baby carrots and good for juicing and freezing

Joan Rutabaga: Good storage rutabaga, dense and crunchy with a delicate sweet flavor

Additional information available at Seed Savers Exchange – www.seedsavers.org

Better Skin Through Ayurveda

by Jen Quinlan

Vata = Dry Skin

To Cleanse: Mix 1 tsp almond meal, ½ tsp dry milk, 1 pinch sugar. Store in a spice jar.

In your palm, make paste using ¼ tsp cleanser & warm water. Apply it over face and neck and gently massage into the skin for about one minute. Do not scrub. Rinse well with warm water. Do not dry. If skin is very dry, instead just wash with a mixture of 1 Tbsp heavy cream & 2 drops of lemon juice.

To Nourish: Mix 1 oz sesame oil, 10 drops geranium oil, 5 drops each neroli and lemon oil. Store in dark glass bottle with a dropper. In the palm, mix 3 drops of nourishing oil & 6 drops water. While skin is still wet, massage mixture all over face and neck until oil is absorbed.

To Moisturize: Melt 1 ½ oz cocoa butter in double boiler. Add 4 oz. avocado oil & remove from heat. Add 1 oz orange tea a drop at a time while stirring. When cool, add 3-4 drops each geranium and rose oil. Gently apply moisturizing cream over surface of skin and neck. Do not massage into skin.

Pitta = Sensitive Skin

To Cleanse: Mix 1 tsp almond meal, ½ tsp dry milk, ½ tsp ground orange peel. Store in a spice jar. In your palm, make paste using ¼ tsp cleanser mix & rosewater. Massage paste over face and neck gently for 1 minute. Do not scrub. Rinse with cool water. Do not dry. If skin is very sensitive, use the cleanser only at bedtime. In the morning, wash only with plain heavy cream. Rinse with cool water & continue with normal nourishing and moisturizing steps below.

To Nourish:  Mix 1 oz almond oil, 10 drops each rose & sandlewood oil. Store in dark glass bottle with dropper. In your palm, mix 2-3 drops of nourishing oil w/4-6 drops water. While skin is wet, gently massage mixture all over face and neck for 1 minute.

To Moisturize: Melt 1 oz cocoa butter in double boiler. Add 3 oz sunflower oil & remove from heat. Using a dropper, add 2 oz rose tea one drop at a time while stirring. When cool, add 5-6 drops sandalwood oil. Gently apply to face and neck (don’t massage into skin).

Kapha = Oily Skin

To Cleanse: Mix 1 tsp barley meal, ½ tsp lemon peel, ½ tsp dry milk. Store in spice jar. In palm, make paste using ½ tsp cleanser & warm water. Massage paste into face & neck for 1 minute. Do not scrub. Rinse with warm water. Do not dry. Don’t use soaps or astringents containing alcohol.

To Nourish: Mix 1 oz sunflower oil, 10 drops lavender oil, 5 drops each bergamot and clary sage oil. Store in glass jar with dropper. In your palm, mix 2 drops of nourishing oil & 4 drops water. While skin is wet, gently massage mixture all over face and neck for 1 minute.

To Moisturize: Melt 1 oz cocoa butter in double boiler. Add 3 oz almond, safflower or canola oil. Remove from heat. Using dropper, add 2 oz rosemary or basil tea one drop at a time while stirring. When cool, add 1 drop camphor oil, 2 drops bergamot oil & 3 drops lavender oil. Gently apply cream over face and neck.

Weekly Exfoliating Mask:
Dry Skin: Banana or avocado pulp
Sensitive Skin: Banana or pineapple pulp
Oily Skin: Strawberry or papaya pulp

Apply to face and neck and lie down for 10-15 minutes with legs up to increase blood supply to the face. Rinse with water, then nourish and moisturize.

Tuning In To Your Skin: Who Are You?

Vata = Space+Air

The best ayurvedic text, the Chakra Samhita, defines a Vata dosha as dry, rough, cool, lacking weight, tiny, always moving, broad, and unlimited, or unbound. Vatas are more slender and have dry, delicate skin and hair with lots of volume. Quick in speech, thought, and action.  They make friends with ease. They are light sleepers and more often than not choose warm climates to live in. They thrive on creativity and are very enthusiastic. Factors that can cause Vata to be thrown out of balance are foods that are raw or dry, and over consumption of ice-cold beverages as well as extreme cold winds. Daily routine, travel, and mental overexertion also throw Vata for a loop.

Pitta = Water+Fire

Pittas are hot, sharp, burning, flowing, and pungent. Pitta is like gasoline; can be ignited if out of balance. Pitta are more medium proportions with warm, fair skin. They are sensitive and have fine hair that may have premature graying or thinning. They have a set goal and purpose with each step and are sharp and determined in speech, thought, and action. They also tend to be light sleepers and live in cooler climates. Self confidence with strong entrepreneurial ambitions. If you are Pitta you will become unbalanced with spicy food, if you skip a meal, if you are too hot, or if there is emotional trauma.

Kapha = Earth+Water

A Kapha is cold, soft, sweet, and slippery. They tend to be larger, robust people. Their skin is often oily and they have rich wavy hair. They are stable, calm, and very easy going. They are steady in their step while loyalty is their middle name. They are heavy sleepers and uncomfortable in clammy, damp or dank environments. Their dispositions are calm and sweet. Kapha balance can be thrown off by fried, heavy, or sweet foods. Ice cold beverages also cause havoc as well as cold temperature, daytime sleeping and lack of exercise.

Smell Good, Naturally…

by Melissa Ida and Rebecca Gorski

It’s no secret that our personal care products are laden with chemicals and they are bad for us. As with anything you put in or on your body, you need to know what is in that product. We have to be very vigilant consumers and learn to read the ingredients, not just the pretty words on the front of the product packaging. There is no regulation for “natural”, and that’s no secret. The fun part becomes learning what to look for and how to avoid those things.

In addition to shampoos, lotions, soaps, and sun screens, deodorants are on the must-know-what’s-in-them-before-I-put-them-on-my-body list. How bad are deodorants and antiperspirants and how do you know what to look for?
Here is a list of chemicals frequently found in deodorants that you should definitely avoid:

Aluminum

What it is:
One of the most common elements in our environment and the world’s most common metal, it is used for many things, including our personal care products.

What it does:
It restricts the sweat from releasing through your underarms, thus letting you remain odor-free. However, in that process, the antiperspirant is absorbed by your body, aluminum included. The toxins that should be releasing themselves from your body go back in and are absorbed.

Problems with this include: a suspected link between Alzheimer’s disease and toxicity of aluminum (The World Health Organization, 1993), and it may be linked to problems with the sweat glands and lymph glands in and around underarms.

What can you do about it?

The biggest thing you can do to control the scent of what comes out of your body is to alter what you put into it. Foods that cause foul odors include: large quantities of red meat (causes stagnation) and  highly processed dietary foods lacking in fiber but high in white flour, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. Foods that help: plant-based foods like whole grains, leafy greens, fresh fruits, sprouts, raw nuts and seeds, healthy oils, parsley, cilantro, celery, mint, and the aromatic herbs sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. The chlorophyll and other phytonutrients cleanse from the inside out.

Eliminate or reduce problem-causing foods and increase natural foods and you might still sweat when you’re hot and overworked — but you might not smell so bad when you do.

Triclosan

What it is:
This is one of the most common antimicrobial agents used in antibacterial soaps, detergents, deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, towels, mattresses, and so on. It was initially developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals. The surprising news is that in 2005 the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan were superior to plain soap and water for protecting consumers from bacteria.

What it does:
It is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity and low levels may disrupt thyroid function.  Some studies show that the triclosan could react with chlorinated water to produce chloroform, a probable human carcinogen.

What you can do about it:
Avoid personal care products with triclosan and triclocarban on the ingredients label. In addition, do not use antibacterial soap or other antibacterial products.

Formaldehyde

What it is:
According to the EPA, formaldehyde is a probable carcinogen, though the risk of cancer from absorption through the skin is not fully understood. The chemical can also trigger adverse skin reactions in children and adults who are sensitive to the chemical. Contact dermatitis specialists recommend that children avoid exposure to products containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives called formaldehyde releasers break down over time in the container.

What it does:
When used in deodorants and antiperspirants, formaldehyde comes into direct contact with the skin and is absorbed through its pores. When absorbed or inhaled, this chemical  can cause short-term and/or long-term effects. Short-terms effects, such as skin sensitivity, rashes, and allergic skin reactions,  have all been linked to formaldehyde use.  Long-term effects, however, may be much more severe. Past studies have shown a correlation between formaldehyde use and leukemia and brain cancer.

What can you do about it?
Avoid roll-on antiperspirants that list formaldehyde-containing preservatives such as Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 on their labels. By substituting preservative-packed antiperspirants with more natural deodorants, you will be doing your body a favor. Deodorants with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients ensure a healthier you and a greener environment.

Smelly and Good Choices!!

Lime Mint & Lovage Deodorant
Enjoy our refreshing lime mint and lovage scented deodorant with quality direct from our organic herb fields, nurtured through hand processing, and infused with the desire to bring nature’s healing to your well being. $8.00 fourelementsherbals.com

Coconutty
Coconutty is probably the world’s only deodorant with powdered coconut milk, both creamed and desiccated coconut and coconut oil to help it stay in place all day. $7.95, lushusa.com

Aromaco Deodorant
Aromaco Deodorant is our cooling, patchouli scented deodorant block based on an infusion of astringent witch hazel and chamomile vinegar. This also has odor-bashing baking soda in it too, so use it on your feet, your armpits and anywhere else you want to keep smelling fresh and lovely. (Vegan)  To Use:  Apply directly to underarms, feet or anywhere that needs a little stink control. Sold by weight, $6.95

T’eo Deodorant
It contains effective essential oils that get to work quickly and efficiently on the bacteria that live on your skin and effectively breaks down sweat. Lemongrass and tea tree oil to kill unpleasant microbes, juniper berry oil to purify and detoxify, and fresh grape juice which acts as a gentle astringent. (Vegan)  To Use:  Apply directly to underarms, feet or anywhere that needs a little stink control. $7.95

The Guv’ner
The Guv’ner has come to us fresh from the LUSH kitchens — and it’s our strongest, most effective deodorant yet. The Guv’ner was created for the boys. $9.95 lushusa.com

Quick Facts About Your Skin:

“Aluminum can be absorbed into the skin,” explains Dr. Kris McGrath, a Chicago-based allergist. “When it breaks free, it’s highly charged and may affect DNA, which can increase the risk of cancerous cells.”

“Parabens, which are used as preservatives, can behave like a weak form of estrogen — and high estrogen levels over long periods of time may be linked to breast cancer risk.”

Pass the Salt

Not so long ago, “natural deodorant” meant scraping a cold salt rock against your skin or laying heavy on the patchouli in the hopes of masking odor. While these protections did little to stave  off sweat, they offered an alternative to conventional B.O. busters — and their accompanying health risks.

Stretch Out the Morning

Reclined Heart Opener

art by Sally Mae Meyer

Spending more than a third of our lives in bed means we should make the best of each night, right? However, if you fall asleep in the wrong position, back and neck pain as well as numbness in your limbs can be your wake up call, which is not cool.
“Sleep is when your body recovers,” says chiropractor Lisa Kirsch of Tribeca Chiropractic in New York City. “If your sleeping position forces your spine out of alignment or compresses your muscles, nerves, or organs, your body can’t heal itself effectively.”

While the best position to sleep in (for your body to be able to rest and heal properly) is on your back with no pillow, most of us would agree how uncomfortable that would be. There is nothing better than cuddling up to your pillow and saying nighty-night.

So after snuggling up, a good morning stretch can help reset your spine and limbs and start your day off with less pain.

“Animals stretch as soon as they wake up,” says Fitz Gordon. “Kids do, too. Sadly, adults don’t.” So take 10 minutes out of your morning to roll out bed properly.

Shoulder Stretch

How You Sleep: Side with Arm Under Head

Try this: Stretch your shoulders which tend to get compressed by the weight of your body and head.

Try this: Sit up straight and tall, contracting your stomach muscles. Reach your arms out to the sides wide, and then pull one arm across your body using your other arm to pull it close to you. Breathe in and out five times and switch arms. Do this three times each side.

Try this: The Cow Face Pose stretches the neck and back muscles while opening the chest.
Stand up with abs contracted with a strap in hand. Put right hand up in the air and then bend your elbow and bring your hand as far down your back as you can. Reach the left arm straight out to your side, and then turn your palm to face behind you. Bend your left elbow and bring your left arm behind your back; grab the strap with your left hand. Relax for five breaths. Repeat on other side.

Cow Face Pose

How You Sleep: On Your Stomach

Try this: Side Stretch which opens the torso, helping to expand the lungs. Also helps put your lower back curve into the proper place.

Stand tall with abs engaged and hands clasped behind your head. Keeping your spine lengthened, bend to the right; go as far as you comfortably can. Stay here for five breaths, breathing naturally, and then return to the starting position. Repeat to the left. Stretch each side three times.

Try this: The Easy Bridge Pose also restores the lower back curve which helps realign your neck. It also opens chest and diaphragm, helping you to breathe more easily and deeply.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, about 12 inches from your hips. To a count of three, reach your arms overhead and lift your hips off the floor; your head, arms, shoulders, and feet remain grounded. Keep your glutes soft and core tight as you hold the stretch for a count of three. Now lower your arms and roll your spine, one vertebra at a time, back down to the mat. Repeat five times.

Side Stretch

How You Sleep: On Back with a Big Pillow

Try this: A Neck Release balances the muscles in your neck.

Sit tall on the edge of a chair. Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder until you feel a strong yet bearable stretch. Hold for five breaths. Return to center, then drop your left ear toward your left shoulder and hold for five breaths. Return to center. Turn your head as far as you comfortably can to the right; stay for five breaths. Come to center. Repeat to the left.

Try this: The Reclined Heart Opener pose opens the chest and moves the head and neck back stretching the anterior longitudinal ligament, which can shorten when you spend too much time with your head in a forward position.

Lie flat on a mat on the floor with a rolled up blanket or towel placed horizontally under your shoulder blades. Rest your arms out to the sides in a T, palms facing up. Relax and breathe deeply for at least two minutes, gradually working up to as long as 15 minutes.

Reiki — A Help for Alzheimer’s

by Sandi Anderson CHT, R.M, K.T. of Healing Intentions

Reiki, the Japanese art of tapping into universal life force or Chi energy, has been found effective in treating and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Patients with degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s, have shown promising improvements. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s as this disease progresses, but Reiki can be a useful tool to enhance quality of life and reduce stress for patients, family caregivers and facilities.

Caregivers like Kim, an Activities Specialist in a large nursing care facility in Missouri, which provides specialized care for Alzheimer’s patients, sees and experiences the difficulty in obtaining cooperation with the patients of Alzheimer’s every day. In the early stages patients’ symptoms are subtle, like memory loss, personality changes, poor judgment, or agitation. The progression of the disease causes greater difficulty in the ability to speak, communicate, move and coordinate. The emotional toll and stress is great for the patient and it shows in his or her behavior. Kim and other caregivers note that the agitation, pacing and anxiety often increases toward the early evening, the part of the day that they would have been returning from work, making supper or partaking in other normal daily transitions. The patients exhibiting such behaviors are described as having a “sun-downer” time. This creates stress and difficulty for the patient and caregivers who need their cooperation to facilitate their care, treatment and feeding. This further escalates into needing more skilled caregivers, increased stress levels for all, and bodies under stress often requiring higher medicine dosages than bodies not under stress.

Therese Silva Johnson, a certified gerontologist and former owner-operator and administrator of a 24-hour care home, introduced Reiki treatments and found patients did become more compliant and relaxed. She found over time even as the disease progressed, that her patients’ degree of symptoms were not that of the traditional patient. Levels of anxiety, agitation, pain and other physical discomforts were reduced. The sun-downer symptoms of pacing, wandering and agitation also showed reduction. Their level of care was better as the level of stress was reduced for the patient and the caregivers.

Reducing stress and increasing the quality of life for patients and caregivers is the challenge.  Most often, the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients in the early stages are family members with limited resources.  Reiki treatments of 10-20 minutes (as needed) can provide relaxation for the patient and better compliance for the caregiver.

As patients continue to decline, their behavior also will change. Sleeping may become an issue or sun-downer’s behavior may increase. Routine Reiki enables the body’s cell memory to respond more easily, bringing the patient back into a sense of well-being, improved moods, and better sleep (often with less or no medication). Their minds may not be able to connect well, but their memory recognizes the soothing and balancing effects.

In providing Reiki, healing touch, and other energy therapy treatments to older patients over the years (as a care provider in the community and through L. E. Phillips Senior Center), I have witnessed how it has helped individuals improve their sleep and pre- and post-surgical recovery, reduce cold and flu symptoms, and decrease fatigue. Others have reported a greater sense of peace, less depression, more mental clarity, better physical balance, reduced pain with chronic conditions, fuller sense of well-being, and more energy.

Reiki and Healing Touch also are very helpful in enhancing and healing the emotional and spiritual levels as well. This has been shown by recent results of the IARP (International Association of Reiki Professionals) survey of American hospitals. Many major hospitals are now recognizing and using Reiki for its therapeutic benefits. Using Chi, the life force energy, which we are all made of, enhances the body’s natural abilities to heal and maintain itself. It not only can enhance the body’s ability to heal from most any illness, it has also been used to enhance the mending of bone and tissue and to reduce the side effects of anesthesia, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy. It promotes deep relaxation, a strong sense of well-being for the individual, which in turn can reduce the need of medication and reduce hospital stays.

Reiki and other energy therapies, like Healing Touch, can improve quality of life and care treatment for the Alzheimer’s patient by enhancing the abilities of caregivers to provide the best care to patients who are more at ease and relaxed. Reduced stress and better compliance by the Alzheimer’s patient will enhance the facility’s ability to provide quality care and keep the costs of care under control as the need increases.

It is important to note Reiki is used as a complement to conventional care, not as a replacement.

Sandi Anderson CHT, R.M., K.T. of Healing Intentions Transformational Life & Soul Counselor, Energetic Healer, Facilitator & Consultant