The Botanicals Times

Mark's Farm Update
   This year in the U.S. the story has been the weather. Obviously weather is a farmer’s most important consideration. Weather affects our greenhouse activity, planting schedules, irrigation plans, crop health, pest occurrences, cultivation, root harvest, crop yields and well, simply, just about everything a farmer does. What is causing the unusually extreme weather in the U.S. is not precisely known. But the droughts in Texas, wildfires in Florida, huge tornadoes in the Midwest and record breaking heat waves in the Eastern cities are not just a coincidence. Most reliable scientists say it is a combination of the effects of global warming and the rise of La Nina. During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3–5 °C. In the United States, an episode of La Niña is defined as a period of at least 5 months of La Niña conditions. La Nina can last for years.
   La Niña conditions typically feature below normal precipitation in the Southwest, the central and southern sections of the Rockies and Great Plains, and Florida. At the same time there is an increase in precipitation across the Pacific Northwest, in the northern Intermountain West, and over scattered sections of the north-central states, Ohio Valley, and upper Southeast. La Niña features unusually cold weather in the Northwest, northern California, the northern Intermountain West, and the north-central states.
   Pacific Botanicals is located in the Northwest and true to form we have had a much cooler, and wetter than normal spring and early summer. This has worked to our advantage in our unique micro-climate since our growing season has started out on the cool side and the heat has come on gradually. This mild weather has been great for all our crops that thrive and keep growing when the weather does not get too hot. If it gets over 95 degrees for too long all but the tropical plants (Ashwagandha, Tulsi Basil, etc.) will stop growing and start to put out seed. We are, however concerned about how the coming root harvest will fare. If it is too wet in the Fall it will make it very difficult to get them out of the ground. But, La Nina or not, there is nothing we can do about the weather. So we will adapt to conditions and produce the finest herbs we can. Besides, weather is one of the things that makes a farmer’s life so interesting. It keeps us on our toes. It’s a gamble but its never boring.
   I hope you and your family get out and enjoy the season whatever the weather is like wherever you are.
Warm regards, Mark.
- Mark Wheeler, Founder, Pacific Botanicals

Toni's Window Our Healing Intention
   When I see all of the news about the bad economy, the bickering politicians, the tornadoes, earthquakes, constantly rising health insurance costs and people losing their jobs, I get discouraged. I start to get angry when I watch the news. I find myself arguing in my mind with the ever-present “they.” But then I catch myself and I decide to stay open. To remember that even in the midst of all of the negative things occurring in the world, Good is there.
   One of the little bits of goodness that came to David and me occurred a few weeks ago when we were traveling in Washington for some work David was doing. We had booked a cabin to stay in but when we arrived late in the day there was a problem with our accomodations. We were disappointed and expecting a battle but when we told the manager (who was very sweet and understanding) he said that he would help us find something more to our liking even at this late hour. We had to wait awhile but then he came and told us, “I have good news. They have room for you at the Abbey.”
   So we went down to the Abbey and discovered it was not only quite a bit closer to where David was working but it turned out to be a lovely inn and retreat center. The Abbey is a Zen Monastery, Druid gathering place, certified organic farm and meditation center. They just happened to have room for us for the days we were going to be there.
   Kozen, the Zen Abbot made us feel very much at home in our elegant remodeled farmhouse room that looked out over the grounds, the pond and Mt. Baker. We were served organic meals from certified organic foods grown right there at the Abbey. Our delightful host gave us a complete tour of the fabulous Druid standing stones, the Certified organic egg farm, the sustainably raised alpacas and the beautiful Zen temple and teaching facilities on the property. It was absolutely perfect for us. We couldn’t have planned it any better. What could have been a disappointing and frustrating stay in unsatisfying accommodations became one of the best times David and I have had this year.
   These kinds of experiences inspire me and remind me that goodness will come to us if we just stay open. At Pacific Botanicals I am so grateful for the wonderful people who have been attracted to the work we are doing here. People who are concerned about natural healing, organic food production, and sustainable living. It is so true that if you put out goodness, goodness will return to you.
   Do bad things happen to good people? Of course. Do mean people still suck? Yes they do. But goodness is here too. In abundance!

-Toni Corrente-Evans, Chief Operations Officer


Damiana Leaf
   The Damiana herb (Turnera diffusa), an aromatic shrub native to tropical America, has a long history of medicinal use. Described as aromatic, bitter, tonic and resinous, Damiana is most often recognized as a female herb, though it has a variety of other uses that may account for its recent popularity. While cultivated to a limited extent, most Damiana herbs are obtained through wild-crafting. The herb is most famous for its reported aphrodisiac properties, though no scientific evidence exists to justify its traditional use for this purpose. Strong anecdotal evidence, however, suggests it may provide some benefit for the reproductive organs of both men and women. Related benefits include treating menstrual problems, prostate disorders, PMS, low estrogen, infertility, hot flashes and menopausal symptoms.
   The herb contains a chemical compound known as Arbutin, which may have diuretic properties and disinfectant properties for the urinary tract, although the levels contained in Damiana are typically considered too low to provide therapeutic value. In aromatherapy, Damiana essential oil is used to improve mood and uplift the spirit. Other traditional uses of the herb include; countering fatigue, treating depression, reducing stress, relieving coughs and treating constipation. Damiana herb is also considered slightly psychoactive. It contains a chemical known as damianin, which may have an effect on the central nervous system. A traditional liqueur made with the herb is often used in Margaritas instead of triplesec, especially in areas of Mexico. According to Mexican folklore, damiana was used to make the original margarita.

Triphala Powder
   This incredible herb is a recent addition to our catalog. Triphala is a well-known traditional Ayurvedic formulation. It makes an excellent skin tonic. It is one of the most popular Ayurvedic medicinal herbs, prescribed by a number of Ayurvedic practitioners. Triphala literally means ‘three fruits’. The three fruits contained in Triphala are Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry) bottom, Haritaki (Indian Gallnut or Terminalia chebula, middle), and Bibhitaki (Beleric Myrobalan or Terminalia bellerica, top). Since Triphala is tridoshic - equally balancing for Vata, Pitta and Kapha (Vata: cold, dry, light, rough, Pitta: slightly oily, sharp, hot, Kapha: heavy, dull, cold, oily) it is beneficial for all skin types. Triphala nourishes the skin, both directly and indirectly. Amalaki, one of the three ingredients in Triphala, is the richest known natural source of Vitamin C. Triphala also contains calcium - an important nutrient that helps enhance skin clarity and brings dull, tired skin to life.
Other Benefits Of Triphala
Triphala Rasayana (rasayana: that which makes new again, helps restore our youthful state of physical and mental health as well as expands our state of happiness.) is beneficial in promoting ojas, (the nectar of life, vigor, or the vital essence produced by the body’s healthy cells) the finest product of digestion that prevents the occurrence of many diseases. This rejuvenating herb is especially beneficial for the eyes. It creates a balance in cholesterol levels by removing ama (cellular waste products and toxins) from the fat tissue. It acts to support the purification of the urinary tract, cleanse the liver and help the management of weight.


   One of the most unusual plants that we grow here at Pacific Botanicals is Spilanthes. It’s distinctive red/yellow buds make it unique. Spilanthes is commonly called the toothache plant and with good reason. The leaves and flower heads, particularly the young buds, contain a natural analgesic which numbs the tongue and gums when chewed, thus relieving the pain of toothaches. It also stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva, and may function as a simple tonic for healthy gums and oral flora. But that’s only the start of the useful properties of Spilanthes. The main constituent of Spilanthes, spilanthol, is an effective anti-parasitic, and has been used as a native remedy against malaria. It has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal actions as well, making it a good all purpose purifier. It seems to boost production of leukocytes and antiviral interferon, suggesting that the plant may be useful in enhancing immune system function. It is often used topically to treat bacterial infection of the skin and wounds, and fungal infections like ringworm and candida.

Soul Talk in the Summer Sun.
   The heat presses me down like a warm blanket slightly damp down the wandering rows. My soul craves the fragrant earth and the cloud strewn sky. It craves that special conversation. In the pounding of the feet. In the turning to greet the Linden tree. In the waiting for it’s response. In the whispering of the bees who make their home in the many tiered blossoms of the rising tree. In the butterflies that dance upon the Echinacea cones when I stop to view. When I see with my soul eyes, and hear with my soul ears everything dances, everything chats.
   My body is heavy as I walk. My heart seems to want to come closer to the edge of my chest. To fly out. Free. To commune directly with the green life essence of the plants flowing out into the moist substance of the heated air. All this time I am close to tears. I cannot say why in this thick heat. Maybe it is the distance I have traveled when I look back over my shoulder toward the barn that shimmers in the rising waves. I have come so far out today into the soul land. Like cresting the hill and looking onto the brilliant colored field. Overwhelmed with the vibrating beauty in front of me I think of my children. There is a part of me that even they may never know. A part of me that is known only here in this soul space. In this conversation with the awakened swirling energy of the sunlit world.
   I pluck a piece of Wormwood and squeeze it between my fingers. The tangy fragrance is a greeting. A hello. A ‘here I am with you so inhale’. Naked, spicy, sharp. The smell of it wakes me into the presence of the breezy voices of the oat and clover. A memory floods over me like a movie trailer. When I was a young man and I could not understand how love could come in the morning and then go in the afternoon without so much as a “so long.” When I burst out of my father’s house and walked into the singing heat of the valley sun beating on my back and saw a red tail hawk screaming above. When I felt fierce in my wanting. When the searing sun seemed to penetrate the empty place in my heart.
   My skin seems so thin now. The farther out I go. Transparent. Permeable. I can feel the weight of my bones but my soul is light and seems to be dancing. I see the workers bent over in the field like patient saints harvesting the lost ones that rise from the ground in shimmering shapes. Up up up they fly into the chattering air.
   I want to lay down in the Echinacea so the bees can eat the nectar off my body while I sleep. But I keep walking. Passed the little white ballerinas of Feverfew and the french horns of the Sage blossoms. My rubber boots slosh through the ditch as I stride slowly by the tree filled with Northern Spy apples. They are still green. I dream of them crisp and sweet. The spicy juice of that perfect one dripping down my chin in the heat of the summer sun. -DE.

Thoughts for the Spirit
   "So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute...Give your approval to all you cannot understand...Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years...Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts....Practice resurrection." -Wendell Berry (The Country of Marriage)

   "To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy -- and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful." -Robert A. Heinlein

   "Sit in reverie, and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind."-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

   "Every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love."-.John Muir, naturalist

   "There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness."-Emily Carr

   "What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O’ let them be left, wildness and wet,
Long live the weeds and the wildness yet." -Gerard Manley Hopkins

   "Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake."-Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

*Damiana Liqueur can be found from various online distributors

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