MOTHER EARTH MIAMI
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FIELDSNOTES BLOG

COMMUNITY SUPPORTED HERBALISM SUMMER 2018

We didn’t notice how much we missed the rain until the landscape suddenly changed. The green started growing wilder than before, the bugs multiplying faster than usual; we would find little eggs when we dug the soil. We stepped barefoot on snakes that were playing around the weeds.

The sounds intensify this season. You can feel life resonating everywhere. You can hear the bugs vibrating, the splash iguanas make when they dive in the pond from the top of the palm trees, the frogs singing, the vinegars fermenting, insects mating, flies eating dead animals, the thunderstorms, sunshowers, and the rain hitting the soil. The smells also become more intense at this time—a lot of things rot and ferment in summer. The ground becomes a mushy fruity mantle; all the flies, animals, and insects come together to help decompose fallen fruit. If you look close enough you’ll see the soil moving. There’s life everywhere.

This is the time of the year that we know we will be drinking more water and coconut water; we know we will be covered in mud and drenched in rain most of the times. We take a daily break at the gas station to enjoy a few seconds of AC. It’s that time we start thinking about how to tie structures if the winds blow hard, to have a plan if a hurricane hits. Summer is beautiful chaos. We work around Mother Earth; we make plans that dissolve or take another course and that’s when creativity, resourcefulness and acceptance start.  

Our appreciation for rain grew so much this year and our perception changed as well.  For us to hide inside or sometimes cancel plans and protect ourselves from getting wet was a normal habit. This year, we have grown to love working under the rain. We work at a slower pace, but don’t let the rain stop us from being outside.

It is a privilege that we live in a city where mangos fall on the sidewalks, a city that can grow a vast variety of tropical fruits that are highly nutritional and medicinal. Not only can the fruits be medicine, but the barks and leaves of certain trees, too. If you have a fruit tree, we encourage you to share the fruits with those who might not have access to them. We have a mango tree nearby and we can guarantee you that gifting a mango to anyone in Miami, even a stranger, will bring a smile to their face. If you don’t have time to deliver them, just place a box with the fruits and a sign so people can take it. They’ll be gone quickly.

This is also a great time to start your own fruit tree: at your house, at a friend’s house, at a community garden, at your kids’ school. Miami is a very transitory city and that sometimes stops us from planting trees, laying roots down.  Just imagine that even if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of the tree, someone will in the future. We are also responsible to improve and care for our city’s landscape. Only we have the power to protect and shape the land we occupy. If you can and have the means, give back to nature. Take a few seconds to meditate on how much we take from her every day and how much we give back. Although fruit trees can be expensive for some of us because of the time it takes for the seedlings to grow, you can find them for free at Miami’s tree donation events. Or you can always start from a seed, like most people around the world do.

This summer, we feel really grateful to start a nursery at Earth n Us Farm in Little Haiti. We are looking forward to building a medicinal garden where everyone can come and visit us. We will be holding events and learning experiences in that space, which we’ll announce soon. We hope you can swing by to see it.

If you have time one day and you would like to try something new, go outside when it rains, sit under the rain for a little bit, feel how it’s cleansing you, how it’s washing away all the things you want to let go. Mental health care is a luxury in Miami, so it doesn’t hurt to try to use our natural elements to help us feel more grounded.

We would like to thank all of our friends and neighbors who came to help us under the rain or the King Sun. Everyone who visits shows us that there is a Miami that wants green spaces, that recognizes how separated we’ve grown from nature. Together, we are making an effort to spend time outside and with the earth, even when it feels impossible. We extend our gratitude to those who supported and inspired us to make this project a reality: our mothers, Mike, Jenna, Ludo, Mary Ellen, Vicky, David, Beth, Garfield, Susan, Yorkys, Tessa, Art, Shirley, tia Mari and Eduardo, Chanel, Ray, Gretchen, Finca Luna Nueva (Costa Rica), Don, Gloria, Luis, Marco, Noah, Kumba and Laurie, Luchita, James, Juan, Patty, Pats, Simon, Sandra, Julie, Pocho, Vicky, Monica, Nicole, Tiffany, Muriel, Luz, and Pebbles. All of them dropped by the farm and gave us a hand with our crops, emotional support, and mentorship when we needed it the most.

All of the ingredients (except for the biodynamic oil, ancient salt, the tea leaves (JoJo tea) for the vinegar, and the organic Florida sugar) were wildcrafted locally by us, and grown organically at our farm or at our gardens. In this share, we also purchased from local organic farmers: Tessa (honey), Garfield (ginger, turmeric, lychees, and onions) Robert (jackfruit), Gone Bananas (papaya), Little River Cooperative (luffa), Susan from Radiate (kombucha vinegar), Yorkys at Bodhi’s Barden (handmade soaps).

 

SMALL SHARE

Mulberry dyed Bulk Bag

Luffa, Collab with Little River Coop

Calendula Soap/Jabón de Calendula, Collab with Bodhi's Garden

Peppermint Lip Balm/Bálsamo Labial de Menta 1 oz

Dehydrated Tropical Fruits/Frutas Tropicales Deshidratadas 3.5 oz

Mango & Surinam Cherries Chutney/Conserva Agridulce de Mango y Cereza Brasileña 9 oz

Cidra Candela 8 fl oz, Collab with Radiate

Lemon Drop Chili Powder/Polvo de Ají Limon 1 oz (a gift for our members)

 

LARGE SHARE

Mulberry dyed Bulk Bag

Luffa, Collab with Little River Coop

Calendula Soap / Jabón de Calendula, Collab with Bodhi's Garden

Peppermint Lip Balm/ Bálsamo para labios de Menta 1 oz

Dehydrated Tropical Fruits/Frutas Tropicales Deshidratadas 5 oz

Mango & Surinam Cherries Chutney/Conserva Agridulce de Mango y Cereza Brasileña 9 oz

Cidra Candela 8 fl oz, Collab with Radiate

Lemon Drop Chili Powder/Polvo de Ají Limon 1 oz (a gift for our members)

Drinking Vinegar/Bebida de Vinagre 16 fl oz

Summer Herbal Tea/Té Herbario de Verano 1.5 oz

Herbal Soursop Leaf Scrub / Exfoliante de Hojas de Guanábana Herbario 9 oz

 

MULBERRY DYED BULK BAG

We were able to make the bulk bags (when you shop for bulk items at the farmers market/supermarket you can pack them in this bag, just ask for a 1.75oz tare) from scratch again, here in Miami, using repurposed cotton fabric. This batch was made by Luz and hand dyed by us using mulberries, since we had an abundant harvest many fell on the ground and we used those to dye the bags. Luz won’t be visiting Miami for a while, so we decided to learn how to make them ourselves. Katia had the opportunity to learn from her mother-in-law Mary Ellen how to make the patterns to build one. Thanks to Vicky from Alma Aromatherapy for letting us use your machine so we can practice. We also made some beautiful organic tags to explain how to care for your bag.

This mulberry variety is called Red Mulberry (Morus ruba) or American Mulberry. It is a native Florida variety and The Timucua people of NE Florida used the fruit, leaves and twigs, to make dyes, and the Seminoles used the branches to make bows. Other Native American tribes also used this beautiful fruit in many capacities.

 

LUFFA

When we ask people where they think luffas (also spelled loofah) come from, they respond most of the times with, “The ocean?”  We thought so, too. Only a few friends knew where they came from, mostly because they grew up in Central America and they remember their grandmas harvesting the luffas from the vines when they got brown and crispy. Luffas are tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber family and you can actually eat them like a vegetable when they are young.

Tiffany from Little River planted them around the fences of their nursery. We love vines and plants growing around fences. It changes how we see a space. Fences have such a negative meaning that plants transform into something more positive.

Luffas are great for removing dead skin. They decompose so that makes them eco-friendly, and they grow here in South Florida. On these pics you can see the growing process of the loofa (Luffa aegyptiaca): 1. Flower, 2. Fruit, 3. Luffa sponge after the fruit has fully ripen and then dried on the vine, 4. Cut luffa sponge without seeds.

 

CALENDULA SOAP

The body soaps were made with calendula flowers we harvested from our field and later double infused with biodynamic grapeseed oil for a total of 8 weeks. Then, we went down to Homestead and met with Yorkys from Bodhi’s Garden. Yorkys is an herbalist, farmer, and mother of two who works around Miami at different farmers’ markets selling locally-grown vegetables from farmer Margie and her amazing, all-natural handmade products. Thanks to her generosity, many of us at the market learned how to make soaps. We really love that her soaps are as natural as they can get: oils and herbs.

Calendula flowers are anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and they help heal sore muscles and skin that was exposed to the sun. Perfect soap to shower with after your summer activities! 

Ingredients: Shea butter, coconut oil and calendula flowers infused grapeseed oil.

 

DEHYDRATED TROPICAL FRUITS

Before talking about fruits, we want to talk about a very special person who feeds us fruits every weekend at the Legion Park Farmers’ Market with a huge smile on her face. Ms. Shirley sits under the Urban Oasis Project tent with a knife on her hands, chopping fruits and handing them to anyone walking by. You can see people’s faces brighten up and their eyes open big when they discover new flavors they’ve never experienced before. She roams around the market saying hello to everybody. She makes sure we are all okay, and if we are not, she sits with us, listens, and prays for us. Ms. Shirley is the abuela we didn’t have because we live in a city made up of a lot of people from different parts of the world, sometimes leaving some family behind. We want to thank Ms. Shirley for caring so much for us and always serving as an inspiration for hard work, generosity, and commitment. Last year after the hurricane, Ms. Shirley had major problems with her roof and we are attaching the GoFundMe page in case you’d like to donate or share the page with friends.

https://www.gofundme.com/weloveshirley

We don’t know the official statistics, but we can tell that the fruit production in South Florida was affected by the hurricane last year, especially bananas. We noticed a lot of people did not get their bananas on time.

The fruits we included in this bag were harvested all around Miami. When we told them about our project, our neighbors would leave buckets of mangos on our doors. A lot of them were also distributed to people around us. Foraging for mangos is really fun; once you start doing it, you realize that there are neighbors who’ve made maps with different fruit trees that are not on private property. I think June is the happiest time of year for us. Sometime we wonder if we can have a mango currency during this month.

We also got bananas, red dragon fruit, and mamey (sapote) from Urban Oasis Project. We went to Homestead and got a 25-pound jackfruit from Robert. Opening a jackfruit was an amazing experience; the fruit can weigh up to 100 pounds. You can imagine its magnitude. When Abuela Alecia saw it, she said, “Save the seeds, you can boil them and eat them.” She remembers that back in Venezuela, people would call it Pan de Palo. The fruit’s strong smell took her back in time. If you do cut one, have enough time and patience to clean the knife with oils.

Drying your fruits this time of the year is a great option for those who have access to lots of fruits. It can be a perfect snack for kids. We hope you have fun guessing what fruits you are eating.

Ingredients: mango, mamey (sapote), papaya, jackfruit, red dragon fruit (large share), and banana.

 

CIDRA CANDELA

Cidra Candela is a hot and sweet vinegar tonic that can be consumed by the spoonful. You can also incorporate it into your cooking, and it works great as a salad dressing. This is the first batch we made to share with you. We wanted to make it mild this time around, so we build more tolerance to spicy foods all together.

The story of Fire Cider is so controversial that we decided to call it Candela and sidra with a 'C' to give it some spanglish. We believe that knowledge is free and to put a trademark on traditional folk medicine is selfish for us. If you would like to read the full story on Fire Cider, you can read it at:
http://freefirecider.com/rosemarys-story/ You can sign the Free Fire Cider petition there as well.

The kombucha vinegar we used as a base was handmade by Susan from Radiate Miami using tea leaves from JoJo Tea. Susan is a fermentation master and a mother. She runs an apothecary for natural and healthy living foods.  She also makes beauty products with natural ingredients. We are very excited for the opportunity to collaborate with her.

When she gave us the vinegar, we added onions, ginger, turmeric powder, rosemary, charapita peppers and thai chilies. We left it in a dark space for four weeks and then we strained it real good, squeezing every drop of goodness and adding a touch of honey.

Egyptians considered onions a deity; they would use it in their rituals and adorn the dead’s hands with with onions. Onions contain vitamin C, minerals, and potassium. The onions that we used were freshly harvested by Luis in Homestead and were not cured, which makes them even more medicinal because they are still juicy and fresh. Onions are used to fight arthritis pain because they contain glucokina (glucokinase), which helps eliminate excess urea and cloruro. Did you know you can grow onions in Miami? You can let one sprout and try it at home.

Ginger is great for our stomachs; it helps us with nausea and also fights off colds and the flu. Ginger is always very present in our lives because of its multiple benefits.

Hot peppers are magical and they love our humid, hot weather. You can grow them in summer. Pests also love them, so if you decide to grow them, be prepared to learn about a lot of insects. Hot peppers are packed with vitamin D, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and beta-carotene. We had so much fun growing peppers that we experimented with 10 varieties this season and two of our favorites were charapitas and thai chilies. 

The Cidra Candela also contains turmeric powder that we powdered, which is great for inflammation. We also used rosemary, which is great for neurological protection. In other words, this is a power boost to your immune system.

Open the bottle carefully like you would a kombucha and try a spoonful. Fermentation should stop after a few days of being in the fridge and once you don't see anymore bubbles in the bottle you can start shaking the bottle as you use it, so you can get every drop of goodness in the bottle. *Please keep refrigerated because summer in Miami is very hot and it will last longer and stop fermenting in the fridge.*

Ingredients: kombucha vinegar, onion, ginger, turmeric, chaparita pepper, Thai pepper, rosemary and local honey.

 

PEPPERMINT LIP BALM

We cleared our lot a couple of weeks ago and harvested lots of peppermint, which we later infused with grapeseed oil for 5 weeks. We combined it with Tessa’s beeswax, Shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E to make a lip balm. It is normal if the lip balm changes consistency; it’ll soften and harden depending on the temperature outside. However, we made it on the harder side so it could resist Miami's summer heat.

Ingredients: peppermint grapeseed infused oil, coconut oil, Shea butter,  peppermint essential oil.

 

TÉ HERBARIO DE VERANO

We are in love with blue pea vine flowers (Clitoria ternatea) that are growing at our new nursery. They have been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to enhance memory, anti-stress, antidepressant, to help the reproductive system (nature is showing us something with this flower's shape) amongst many other wonderful benefits. 

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) and ginger (Zingiber officinale) are also part of this tea trinity. Both bring an invigorating and calming component to this herbal tea blend. 

To enjoy a tea for two, boil 16 fl oz of water and pour over a hand full of the tea (or add more tea if you like it a little stronger) and let it steep for 4-5 mins and watch your tea become blue like Miami's ocean thanks to the pea vine flowers. You can always drink it warm but for this summer tea we really enjoy it cold or over ice once it has been steeped with boiling water or by using the sun tea method: letting it steep with room temp water in a jar with a lid on and letting it sit for a few hours facing the rays of Miami’s summer sun. Sun tea brings the energy of the sun to your body and it’s a beautiful way of interacting with our largest star.

 

SUMMER IN MIAMI DRINKING VINEGAR

Drinking vinegars -also called shrubs- go back to Babylonian times. They were created originally to preserve fruits with vinegar back then when there was no refrigeration. Once refrigeration came around their popularity declined but now they are making a come back. In America's earlier days, these concoctions were usually made in the summer to quench one’s thirst, bring on the medicinal benefits (safer than water, to prevent scurvy and for digestion) and to of course preserve their summer fruits.  

For this cool method drinking vinegar we used lychees (which came this year thanks to this year's cold weather), Holy Basil (also called Tulsi-Sanskrit for Holy Basil), mango, tamarind, Radiate kombucha vinegar & Florida organic sugar.

Katia'a 4 year old sacred Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) plant keeps producing beautiful and aromatic leaves and flowers year after year. This plant which is in the Lamiaceae (mint family) is highly medicinal and it has been used for over 3,000 years for its medicinal values as its a natural remedy for adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, unbalanced blood sugar and anxiety. 

How to enjoy your drinking vinegar:

To serve, mix 1 tablespoon shrub syrup into a glass of still or sparkling water. Taste and add more syrup, if desired. Shrub syrups may also be used as cocktail/punch mixers, in salad dressings, glazes, sauces and more.

We like to keep this drinking vinegar in the fridge so it lasts longer but its not necessary. If you leave it outside your fridge for a few days it could ferment once again and become a little bubbly. 

 

MANGO & SURINAM CHERRIES CHUTNEY

We spent the whole growing season delivering on a weekly basis our farm grown produce to our friends at Ghee Indian restaurant in the Design District. Everytime we made a delivery they would let us try all of the new dishes that they were creating with our veggies and most of the time there was a delicious chutney to smother on top of their creations. We couldn’t wait for Miami’s mango season to start so we could share this amazing chutney that we made inspired by Miami’s neighborhoods mangoes and surinam cherries bounty.

If you are not familiar with surinam cherries you soon will be. It is grown as a hedge here in urban Miami. It’s binomial name is Eugenia uniflora and it’s native to tropical South America’s east coast. We have noticed that this high in vitamin C and A berry, has different tastes profiles depending on the sun exposure, ripeness and cultivar. We love how sweet and how easily the really ripe dark red colored ones come off the hedge/shrub/small tree. The green, orange and lighter red colored ones are tart and sorta resinous tasting so, we recommend just to wait a few days so they ripen and then come back to harvest them.

In addition to the fruits we also added coriander seeds and chilies from the farm, ginger and onion from Garfield, kombucha vinegar from Radiate and Florida organic sugar.

Please keep refrigerated once opened. Enjoy!

 

HERBAL SOURSOP LEAF SCRUB

Our families always told us the medicinal benefits of soursop/guanábana (Annona muricata) fruit but, most importantly the benefits of its leaves which are even more medicinal than the fruit itself. We harvested the leaves as they are known to help reduce irritation from eczema, rheumatism, and other skin conditions when applied topically so we decided to make a herbal body scrub so you can get all of its great benefits.

In this herbal body scrub you will find:

Soursop leaves

Comfrey leaf infused grapeseed oil (also very healing-we only recommend using it topically)

Ancient Salt

Florida organic sugar

Tessa’s Honey

Apply on dry (for more exfoliation) or damp skin and massage in a circular motion. Rinse with warm water after a few minutes.

 

LEMON DROP CHILI POWDER

This is a gift from our farm to our members! We were lucky to grow peppers this season and we’re grateful for the variety and flavors we got to taste. Peppers can be medicinal as well; many cultures are accustomed to the heat and it’s part of their eating habits. It helps with blood circulation, and reduces blood pressure and cholesterol. When we cleared up our lot at Little River’s incubator program, we brought our family visiting from South America to help and it was a very special moment to reconnect with them under the rain, sweating and working as a team. While some of us where removing weeds, others were harvesting every single hot pepper left on the plants. We did not expect that they would come up with pounds of lemon drops. We realize how, culturally, we have a tendency to be more wasteful, and we thank them for inspiring us to waste less. We love how spicy they are and at the same time they pack a lemony flavor to them hence the name. We recommend that you try them with caution as they can be very hot to some people. They are tasty if you sprinkle some over Miami’s summer fruits to give your fruit a lemony, spicy kick and to charge your metabolism.

 

OUR PACKAGING

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Our packaging consists out of amber glass bottles, clear glass jars, metal lids, stainless steal tin containers, recycled kraft paper bags,  paper & labels (these labels are sensitive to water but they are better than the plastic ones for the environment :) ). All of these containers and labels are made in the USA and they are recyclable. Gabi hand types all of the labels with a 1960's Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter. We also upcycle glass containers without the lids so you can always drop them off back to us!

 

This information is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease, as these statements have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA or any other organization. 

Always consult your healthcare professional before adding any new herbs or supplements to your regimen, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking pharmaceuticals.

mother earth