Herbology Day Camp at Camp Tonkawa

We went on a field trip to Camp Tonkawa back in 2009.  You can check it out HERE.  We had an amazing time and I've been wanting to go back ever since.  

Well, I found out that they were offering a series of Herbology Day Camps for adults and I signed up right away.  Here's the class description:

This class series was set up for adults interested in building a special relationship with plants.  We will investigate Culinary, Essential oils, and Medicinal values of different plants each session. It will include Wild Edibles, Poisonous plants  and Gardening tips.  Each class you will go home with recipes, knowledge about something we made, and lots of information that you can put to use in your own home.  Children are welcome to listen in or they can use the day for Wood Exploration Time.  The workshop is really set up for the Parents, and other adults.
You can check it out on their website for more info: http://www.camptonkawatexas.com/classes/herbology_day_camp.shtml 

Ever since we took the Primitive Survival Camp at LLELA last summer, the kids and I have been interested in learning more about edible wild plants for culinary and medicinal purposes.  We were all excited!

There was Ms. April, the owner, as well an assistant and her daughter.  There was just one other mom and she had a son about Nicholas' age.  It turned out to be a fun group.

We started off learning about pine trees.  We learned how to tell the difference between a pine tree and a spruce tree.  If the needles come off the branch in groups of two, three, or five then it is a pine tree.  Spruce tree needles are usually found as singles on the branch.

Pine nuts can be found at the base of each scale on the pinecone.  They are a bit hard to crack open but you can usually smash them with a rock to get to the soft nut inside.

The kids were told to gather some pine needles because we would make some pine needle tea later.  Pine needle tea is full of Vitamin C, K, and A as well as beta carotene, thiamin, and riboflavin.

Did you know that the sap of a pine tree is flammable?  Great info to know if you need to start a fire or make a torch.

A Kid's Herb Book is one of the herbal books recommended.  I flipped through it briefly and I want a copy for myself. 

We broke up or cut up our pine needles.

Then we placed the needles in a pot.  We filled the pot with water and let is steep in the sun while we continued with the class.

We learned about this spiky tree called the Hercules Club.  It is also known as a Toothache Tree because Native Americans used to chew the bark to make a paste that soothed their sore gums and teeth.

Although the class is intended for adults, Ms. April worked with the kids just as much as the adults.  I really appreciated that.

This is chickweed.  It is full of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients.  It is completely edible and can be tossed in salads.  However, our class is getting fancy today.  We are going to make a Chickweed Pesto and Chickweed Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!  Then we'll use the leftover chickweed to make a healing salve.

It's an unusual looking plant.  We found it growing heavily in the shaded areas under trees.

We found some edible violets and taste-tested them.

My kids are such picky eaters sometimes but I'm so proud of them for being adventurous enough to want to try new edible plants they learn about.

On the property is the cool tree house that is no longer used.  Oh how I wish I had a big piece of property with a tree house on it.

And I want a creek bed on my property too.  The boys had a great time making their own fort area in the creek bed.

Once we were done gathering our chickweed, we headed to the cute outdoor kitchen and made our Chickweed Pesto.

Here's the recipe in case you want to try it for yourself.

Rachel tried the Chickweed Pesto on a piece of bread and didn't hide what she thought of it.  One bite was all she needed.

On the other hand, Nicholas loved it!  He came back for thirds!

And he ate up his Chickweed Grilled Cheese sandwich.

After lunch, we did some more exploring.  We learned about Shepherd's Purse.  The leaves are supposed to look like little purses but they just look like hearts to me.  Shepherd's Purse is mild flavored.  It can be used to reduce bleeding of wounds and nose bleeds.  It can be used in a mixture like a tea to help with stress.  It can be crushed and placed on bug bites to soothe them.  It can also help with blood pressure and menstrual issues.

Ah, beautiful wisteria.  The flowers are edible and people eat them raw or put them in salads.  However, it is very important to remember that the rest of the plant it toxic so be careful.

This beautiful leaf is Lemon Balm.  It was used by the ancient Greeks over 2000 years ago.  It has so many good uses.  It relieves tension, anxiety, and insomnia.  It helps with toothaches, soothes bronchial inflammation, menstrual cramps, and digestive problems.

We learned how to dehydrate herbs for storage and later use.  You can use a dehydrator like this one or just tie them in a bundle and let them hang upside down until dry.

We had a wonderful time at the class.  Before we left, Nicholas found this beautiful caterpillar.  Look how well he camoflauges with the wooden table!

1 comment:

  1. WOW what a detailed account of the class. Kim your photographs and descriptions were great.
    Thanks for coming. Hope more people will be joining us next month!