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Local is Personal

The weather is freezing outdoors and I have spent a great deal of time warm indoors. One task I have been focusing on is making up the labels for my products. I try to keep packaging waste down as much as I can. It eases my mind to know that I am not responsible for creating excess waste and I assume it is a good thing to save customers the extra steps of peeling off a plastic wrap and getting it to the appropriate garbage bin.

Packaging isn't only about environmental choices, as important as I believe these details are. I keep promising myself that I will order stamps because I am attempting to be more efficient. The hand written labels for my jars of skin balm take a long time to make up. It would be much quicker to just stamp each one in assembly line fashion. However, each step of my skin balm is undertaken thoughtfully and methodically. While growing and harvesting the plants that I use, the people I am creating my skin balms, soaps and tinctures for are always in sight of my heart. I love being outdoors, especially on days that are warm and the sun is shining overhead. I feel the sort of freedom then that I only experience during the summer. Sometimes I ride my bike to my harvest spots. Frequently, I am in my own garden, harvesting from the "weeds" that I have selected to flourish. I feel calm and my heart is full.

The process of making my herbal preparations in my home is equally rewarding and purposeful. And so, my hand written labels feel right. I have been lucky for the gift of developing personal friendships with my customers and when I share a jar of my skin balm or a bottle of, say, Sleep Well tincture, the personal touch of my hand made labels feels like it expresses the true nature of all that goes into both my products and relationships.

Which means that I will keep on hand writing for at least the time being! For as long as I can spare the time.

Yesterday, I refilled my display of cloth napkins, skin balms and small batch soap bars at International Marketplace, a local (really, THE only) store in the small town where I live. On my way out, the value of shopping local was reinforced during a conversation I had with a local chef who runs Nena's Mexican Grill. Of course, local means fresher food and keeping our money in our own community. That part is obvious. But shopping local is so much greater than the material benefits. Again, it comes back to the personal connections. Chef Antonio Sule, who cooks from all of his grandmother Nena's recipes, mentioned to me the wonderful relationships he is building, how humbled he is by the local support he is given and he told me that he has to pinch himself to make sure it is all real. When we shop local, when we shop small, we can take heart that we are fulfilling dreams.

This week in my kitchen, I made a small batch of Anti-inflammatory + Antioxidant skin balm. I love the way the poplar buds naturally fill this blend with their resinous fragrance. I also love how the combination of wild poplar buds and turkey tail mushrooms soothe my dry skin, calm puffiness, ease allergic reactions and even soothe sore muscles. I know that plants work, but I never cease to be amazed. Truly, they amaze me.

The peas are growing beautifully in the greenhouse. As soon as this cold snap is over, I am planting them out into the garden. I can't wait.

My apple trees need to be pruned. The buds are beginning to form and it is easy to knock them off at this stage while I prowl through the trees, pruners in hand. I need to get out there ASAP and get this job done. Hopefully, this week.

Wishing you a great week ahead!


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