Tiny Farms and Elecampane

I like the idea of tiny farms. It’s really what most folks can afford. I was litening to an interview with my friend Skeeter and he posed the question If there’s Tiny houses , why not Tiny Farms?

Why not, indeed?

I live on a tiny farm now. My farming career has brought me from 5 acres on Whidbey Island to 30 in the Upper Skagit and now I farm on a township lot. And you know what? I produce nearly the amount of Necessary product. The key word here is necessary. I have a small town herb business and use alot of low dose formulas so I do not need a huge amount of plant material to meet my needs. I also supplement with bio-regional wild plants.

I’m not going to go in to farming techniques but I want to mention one of my favorite Garden variety herbs that is easy to grow and worthy of every inch of space in your garden.

Inula helenium, Elecampane First off, Elecampane is beautiful. It is in the sunflower family and has bright happy clusters of yellow sunflowers mid summer. The leaves are large and add drama to the landscape. Insects love it and it will grow in most garden soil and with sun, partial sun or even partial shade. Yes, you will get more flowers in the sun but in a pinch, I've grown it on the northeast side of the farm and its been fine.

Elecampane is a perennial so be patient. Remember the old adage, first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap. Perennials are the answer to the lazy farmer, plant one and have Elecampane for the rest of your days. Just replant the crown after harvesting the third year roots. 
So, whats the fuss about Elecampane? Well, there is lots of fuss and she's worthy of our attention. I could write a book on Elecampane but I'll narrow it down to a few hard facts that I think most can appreciate.

Elecampane is a warming aromatic. Warming aromatics in general release tension, stimulate the para sympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and remove stagnation. Elecampane is commonly used as an expectorant, meaning it loosens and expells mucous, easing congested lungs and upper respiratory conditions. Its aromatic roots are indicated in any case where you have green or dark yellow discharge, indicating infection. Elecampane is specific for chronic irritation in the lungs but also clears phlegm and mucus from the urinary system and digestive tract.
Tincture the roots, 1:2 fresh, 75-100 percent alcohol for best results. I also make a mean honey with it to add to teas or brews. Simply chop the fresh root, fill a jar 2/3 full and add honey. Allow to infuse a few weeks to six weeks, strain and enjoy. Some herbalists do not strain their roots from the honey, allowing them to continue infusing. Try it both ways and see which one you like.

Elecampane is antiseptic, bitter, and contains inulin which feeds friendly bacteria in the colon. It is one of the most effective digestive bitters and I use in my Bitters blends with Gentian, Mahonia and orange peel.

Happy Farming!

Erin Vanhee