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Oak Spring Garden Foundation-Medicinal Herbs Program

We were so thrilled to return to Oak Spring Garden Foundation to see what was happening in the spring. Our visit, like the others before was rainy and chilly. That did not quell the excitement of our students who were eager to learn about what medicinal herbs were growing at OSGF.

Ginger Anderson, the Education Specialist warmly greeting us and began telling us about some of the herbs that we would be working with that day. She lead us through the gardens where we saw some of the plants emerging. We wound through the greenhouses to see where they start the seeds.

We had a quick lunch break in the beautiful granary building which was turned into a conference room then headed to the classroom. The smells from emanating from the classroom tantalized our noses. Dried flowers hung in the corner, crates of dried flowers were stacked along the wall and in the center of the room there was a pot with steam rising.

We began with smelling 3 different herbs to pick out different aromas in the herbs. Did they smell citrusy, woody, earthy, sweet, bitter? They tried to ID the herbs based just on the scent. It was a great exercise to get our noses working.

The pot was filed with melted glycerin for the first activity using aromatherapy. The students began by removing the flowers of lavender from their stems. They added luffa, lavender and rose petals to silicone forms with a few added drops of rose and lavender oil for extra sent. The glycerin was poured in and set aside to dry. Not only did they smell wonderful but they look so pretty.

Then we chose some herbs to create cyanotypes, which we learned were used by early botanist for reprography to get images of plants. We placed our herbs onto the special paper which contains 2 naturally existing chemicals that are used to create the special paper that is sensitive to ultraviolet light. When exposed to light the paper turns a monochrome blue except where the plants are, that stays white. They get dunked in water to fix the image and turn a dark blue.

Following that the students choose from a variety of herbs to make a sachets. These are little pillows of herbs and rice mixed together that can be heated and placed on sore areas on the body to provide some relief.

Lastly, the students made some herbal ornaments by gluing lemon verbena and lavender to some cardboard doughnuts. Tied it off with some twine and lemon grass and then you have a beautiful aromatherapy air freshener! I hung one in my car to help me stay calm while driving.

We all left with such an appreciation for plants and our connection to them. They help us to feel better, prevent diseases, fight bacteria, calm and energize us. Experiences like these are what inspires this generation to take care of ourselves by taking care of the plants and the planet.

A big, "THANK YOU", to Ginger, staff and OSGF for the amazing day.

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