We often talk about our extraordinary staff here at The Center for Discovery®. Yes, they have a myriad of degrees and decades of professional experience. But, they are also all heart. At their core, regardless of their actual job – they have an unshakeable belief in humanity. They know that one of our greatest gifts is connection – to each other, other living things, and to the earth. And, they truly believe all things are possible with some creativity and a whole bunch of planning.
Case in point – our Herbal Education program.
It began about 10-years ago at the Thanksgiving Farm and Community School and has grown like a weed!
“We started out with little tiny areas for the classes to grow herbs and crops and then we graduated to the school garden,” said Eve Minson, TCFD Director of Herbal Education, “then we built the raised beds, trained everyone about basic gardening work, and then everything took off.”
As the staff was mastering their farm skills, Eve and the farm school teachers began to visualize all the ways the students could be involved.
And then Eve took it even further – planning fresh herbs for summer meals, and then dried herbs for the rest of the year. This meant building an entire herbal workshop including massive drying racks, workshop tables, and huge containers for storage. It meant going over every detail of the process and breaking it down step-by-step so all students could participate in one part of the production or another.
They have grown and processed thyme, rosemary, sage, nepitella, oregano, summer savory, sweet marjoram, fennel, chamomile, lavender, anise hyssop, spearmint, peppermint, mountain mint, orange mint, apple mint, dill, holy basil, lemon balm, lemon verbena, garlic, and this year’s favorite challenge, capsicum peppers! They have planted the seeds, watered the plants, harvested, and washed the peppers, prepared them for drying, and then ground them up into what we all know and love as paprika!
“The students always increase their capacity for team work, for managing the tasks in front of them, and all the while they are learning the whole process from seed to table,” said Eve, “I’m always blown away how quickly and fully our kids show up for whatever we are doing with them.”
Whether they are processing spices or making our now famous teas, they are working with each other as a team. They are connecting to the food we grow and eat, and to each other. We call this our Seed to Belly® philosophy.
“I have seen them grow into being young people who seem to truly enjoy the entire process of life on the farm,” added Eve. It is clear – this is no ordinary classroom. And our teachers, teacher associates, clinicians, nutritionists and the rest of our staff are not ordinary people. From their hearts of gold – life changing moments spring forth on the Thanksgiving farm.
Here is a quick an easy way to incorporate healthy herbs into your kitchen:
Thanksgiving Farm® Herb Butter
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces minced onion
- 1 lb. salted butter
- 1 tbsp. dried thyme
- 2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- Heat a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-low heat.
- Add the oil and onion and cook 20-25 minutes or until the onion is very soft.
- Let cool to room temperature.
- Combine the onions, butter and herbs in a food processor and pulse until smooth.