You may remember that back in April Motherlove announced that we are now the proud operators of a 120 acre organic farm near our offices in Colorado.
Our Legacy Organic Farm will supply us with local, sustainable, certified organic herbs for Motherlove as well as grow traditional organic grains and vegetables. It’s a dream come true for us, connecting us with our roots as a company.
We’re happy to share more details about the farm and our plans for it, in this Q and A with Motherlove Vice-President Silencia Cox:
What’s the setting for the farm, and what does it look like?
The farm is located along the front range for the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado, just east of the town of Loveland. It’s about 25 miles south of where Motherlove offices are located in Laporte. The elevation is about 5,500 feet, set in rolling hills in the Colorado high prairie with an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains. Longs Peak dominates the view directly to the west with stunning views of the Mummy Range just to the north. The big Thompson River flows through the southern portion of the property. In fact, all of the snow melt between the southern side of Hagues Peak (13,560 feet) in the Mummy range and the Northern face of Longs Peak (14,259 feet) flows into this river and passes through the farm.
What’s the history of the farm?
We are currently leasing the land. The Farm was originally the Henry Ulrich, or Lazy U farm. This 120 portion was one of several plots that were owned by several family members. Each of the other pieces of land have been sold off, but this piece remains. 120 acres was a typical family farm size. It has been a family farm for generations. The owners, Barbara Caulkins and her daughter Dana Burns, are committed to keeping it a functioning organic farm and refusing to sell to developers in the area. If you live on the Front Range, you know how much development is occurring. Centerra, a huge shopping complex is only a few miles from the farm. We are so inspired by Barbara and Dana’s desire to maintain an operating organic farm. It really is an honor to work with them.
We hired a farm manager, RJ Ottaviano, who has been a family friend for years and was the one who actually found the farm. R.J. has been involved in sustainable agriculture since 2003. He has a B.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis. His background includes a broad range of operations, including orchard management, vegetable, livestock, seed crop, and row crop production. R.J. was working in the Crop and Soil Research Program at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute when he accepted the position with Motherlove. It has been a perfect fit for everyone. We have several other part time employees who spend their days helping on the farm. Aimee Pursley is our herb specialist, and she is currently conducting research on the herbs we will be growing in the future.
What are you raising now, and where is it sold?
This is our first year with the farm, we are still getting to know the land, soil and water. We wanted to maintain the organic certification on the farm and stay on top of weed control, so many of our crops are cover crops for grain and hay. We have triticale which was used for hay, with a portion of the crop harvested for grain. There are fields of alfalfa and grass which has already gone through its first cutting and is about ready for a second. There is a field with a mixture of sorghum seed, cow peas, and sun hemp which was just cut and is waiting to be bailed. And of course we have corn.
We have a few animals at the farm. Currently we have pigs and chickens. The sheep will be arriving in the fall. We plan on incorporating more animals into the farm in the upcoming years.
You plan to raise some of the herbs used in Motherlove products at your farm. Can you tell us more about what you’re planning to raise?
We currently have a test plots of herbs going to see what we can grow at this elevation and with low water use. Herbs are a high value crops because they must be hand weeded and hand harvested, so we want to be sure we plant only what will do well in Colorado. So far the plan for next year is to grow calendula (which is in almost every one of our body care products), yarrow, and blessed thistle. All of the herbs are low-water and Colorado natives that thrive in our soil.
The long term goal of the farm is to become an herb education facility. We plan on establishing large perennial herb gardens to use for plant identification classes.
What can you tell us about the educational programs you’re planning to offer?
In our classes we would like to teach both medicinal and edible uses for herbs. Identification classes will be held often for all age ranges. We would like to have field days were we gather herbs and teach people to make them into salves, balms, and tinctures. We will host an edible field day to identify “weeds” that have every day uses. Many of the plants we will use are common weeds so it will be a way to help everyone look at the plants in their yards little differently.
We would like to collaborate with other local businesses to hold farm-to-table dinners and beer paring events. The community in Northern Colorado has so much to offer when it comes to good food and drink, and we would love to help highlight other local brands and businesses. Organic and sustainability are core practices for us at Motherlove and on the farm. We plan on hosting sustainability workshops in the future as well.
What’s your favorite thing about being at the farm?
It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to be on a farm. To be a part of the land and see food production is something many of us never have a chance to do. In this highly processed and disconnected society, it is amazing to have a chance to reconnect to something that is real. When I am out there under the Colorado sun walking through the fields with a pack of dogs, it is like heaven to me. Watching a seed be put in the ground in the spring time, and then by late summer there is a plant that towers over your head – the transformation and change is amazing and I am so blessed to just be a witness to it. This really is a dream come true.Pin It
There are many benefits of growing your own food. What’s your favorite?
My favorite benefit of gardening is one few people know about. There is a bacteria in soil called mycobacterium vaccae. When gardening, you breath in this bacteria and your bodies immune response creates serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an anti-depressant, improves mood, and boosts overall happiness! Who needs prescription drugs when you have soil?
Why do you install raised beds instead of preparing the soil in people’s yards?
It takes a gardener on average 7 years to get their soil “just right” from amending it. In Colorado, our soil is very full of clay, making a ‘double dig’ incredibly difficult. With raised beds, we can fill them with an optimal soil mix on day one, and skip the years of low yields and nutrient-poor soil. Because this soil is so valuable, the raised beds contain the mix. Raised beds also make it easier to connect cold frames and trellises, and simply look better in your yard!
What do you think stops most people from growing food in their yards?
Where do you start and how do you go about doing it? People are often times daunted by the process. While gardening is a simple concept, there are actually several snippets of important things you need to know to have a thriving garden. Learning these things can be difficult with such a hodgepodge of information online, and many people don’t want to spend their weekends weeding their garden or digging in their clay-filled soil. Also, gardening has been branded as the ‘grandma’s hobby’. We want to make gardening more hip and cool so everyone wants to do it.
You advocate “disruptive eating.” What does that term mean?
It’s a term that I made up. My goal is to create a business model that disrupts the status quo of agriculture. The beauty of gardening and eating is that everyone makes dozens of food choices every day, so everyone has the power to disrupt this status quo through food. By making ethical, conscious, and healthy food choices, a person is making a tremendous positive difference in the world. Luckily these larger goals are perfectly aligned with the pleasurable-driven goals of eating tastier and more nutritious food!
The entire dandelion plant is edible, and it’s higher than most foods in vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A. It has a number of medicinal uses, too.
Motherlove founder Kathryn Higgins writes, in her Pocket Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, “This recognizable plant is so beneficial that I don’t understand where it got its bad reputation. Instead of eradicating this useful plant we should all be enjoying its beauty and many uses.”
She recalls: “I started giving wild edible plant identification classes in 1985 on our land in Rist Canyon. After class I fed everyone a meal made with the plants that we had previously identified. The main course was nettle lasagna, along with a wild weed salad of lambsquarter and dandelion leaves. To this I added sheep sorrel for a lemony taste and bull thistle. Peeled thistle stalk makes a great substitute for celery. Side dishes were dandelion pickles, the wonderful dandelion muffins, and drinks of cold nettle lemonade and hot roasted dandelion root tea. The children helped me with the gathering and making dandelion muffins- picking the open flower heads and pulling out the beautiful yellow fluff.”
See below for her recipe for Dandelion Muffins!
Here are some of the many ways you can use the dandelions in your yard:
Kathryn’s recipe for Dandelion Muffins:
Mix in bowl:
Mix in another bowl:
Combine dry and liquid ingredients. Stir to moisten- it should be lumpy. Spoon into oiled muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
*Of course, be sure that your dandelions haven’t been chemically sprayed!
This week, communities around the world will celebrate Earth Day. Here at Motherlove, we’re not doing anything special.
That’s because we observe Earth Day every day of the year.
Motherlove was born from a deep respect for the gifts from the natural world, and we aim every day to create our products in ways that protect and preserve it. Our products are truly gifts from nature, and we aspire to honor that generosity in every choice we make.
Here are just a few of the ways we maintain our commitment to the environment:
We are constantly striving to make Motherlove as respectful of the planet as we can, and encourage everyone to do what they can to make every day Earth Day!
We’re very happy to share a podcast interview with Motherlove Herbal Company founder and owner Kathryn Higgins on galactagogues – herbs to increase milk supply!
Kathryn talked with Tanya about several commonly used herbs to increase milk supply, herbs that are particularly helpful for mothers who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or had little breast growth in pregnancy, and herbs that are safe to take while pregnant. She explained which forms of herbs (liquid extracts, capsules, teas) are most effective, and discussed some common herbs and foods which lower milk supply. She even shared the Greek myth that gave us the word galaxy and galactagogues (hint: when you look up at the night sky, think milk!).
A nationally recognized herbalist, author, and teacher, with 35 years of personal and professional experience, Kathryn Higgins is the founder and visionary behind Motherlove Herbal Company. While pregnant with her first child Kathryn began to gather herbs from her home in the Rocky Mountains to make teas, oils, baths and liquid herbal extracts that would support her own child birth experience. In 1990, while pregnant with her third child, Kathryn founded Motherlove. She remains a lecturer and teacher on the use of herbs, and is the author of the Pocket Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants.
I decided to have a home birth with my first child. We lived in the mountains in Colorado, far from a hospital. When my water broke and I went into labor, my husband and I drove to my midwife’s home in town, where we would be closer to a hospital in case of any unforeseen emergency. An intense 30-hour labor gave me plenty of opportunity to use my pain-relieving tinctures of crampbark and scullcap. But I had only dilated to three centimeters, and it was time to go to the hospital. There, hooked up to fetal monitors and pitocin, my cervix still would not dialate. Our first daughter was born by cesarean with her head tilted back and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times; I was told she would have suffocated had she entered the birth canal. I was grateful for the herbs that helped me through a long labor and for the medical expertise that saved our lives. As soon as I returned home from the hospital, I put mashed comfrey leaves on the cesarean cut, and today I have no visible scar.
I was confident that I could have a successful vaginal birth with my second child, but my husband was not willing to try a home birth again. The local hospital had beautiful birthing rooms where I could bring my ritual objects, and I was encouraged to use my herbal tinctures during labor when I needed them. Soon after the birth of our second daughter, I took a combination tincture of crampbark, motherwort, and raspberry leaf to prevent any afterbirth cramping, give me emotional support, and slow the bleeding. I continued to take this tincture several times a day for three days. Our second daughter’s heart defect was discovered the day after she was born. The sitz bath and homeopathic arnica were invaluable to me, as I walked and sat comfortably through three days of tests and many appointments.
I was two weeks overdue in my third pregnancy. After consulting with my nurse midwife, I took a dose of blue cohosh tincture. Six hours later I went into labor. When we arrived at the hospital, once again I was dilated only three centimeters. But in less than an hour of soaking in a warm tub, with my oldest daughter pushing the pressure points on my lower back, I was ready to push.
The birth of our third daughter went very quickly. I walked and squatted as we waited for the placenta to expel. The placenta, however, had adhered to the uterine wall at my previous cesarean scar, and I was hemorrhaging internally. The warm blood came gushing out as the doctor on call prepared to do an emergency hysterectomy. My husband squeezed a dropperful of fresh shepherds purse tincture into my mouth. Almost instantly the bleeding “miraculously” stopped, and an incredulous doctor removed the placenta with a D&C instead of the planned hysterectomy.
Herbs are a great birthing ally. Used successfully by midwives for years to ease labor pain and reduce the need for drug intervention, herbs can also progress a stalled labor, slow bleeding, calm anxiety, provide focus, and give renewed strength and nourishment.
Tinctures are an easy way to use herbs during labor. In a tincture, active constituents of the herbs are extracted in alcohol and water for a minimum of two weeks. This liquid is then strained and bottled. The herbal drops are taken in a small amount of water to dissipate the alcohol, or used directly from the dropper bottle. I mixed my own tinctures, but they are readily available in natural food stores.
Raspberry leaf, the premier uterine tonic, can be taken throughout pregnancy and labor. Just as a runner prepares leg muscles before a marathon, raspberry leaf strengthens the uterine muscles so that they will work more efficiently during contractions. Raspberry leaf also helps to expel the placenta after birth, slow afterbirth bleeding, and increase breast milk. For convenience, prepare a tea or ice chips ahead of time to sip or suck on during labor. Add chamomile tea for a relaxing effect.
Scullcap, chamomile, and catnip tinctures, and a combination of chamomile and St. Johns wort, work well to relieve tension and ease labor pain. As the name implies, crampbark eases uterine cramping during labor, as well as pains after birth.
When the ups and downs and feelings of anxiety seem overwhelming, motherwort is the herb to use. Or use aromatherapy inhalers that contain specific essential oil combinations for emotional focus, clarity, and rejuvenation. Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower remedy, also helps when under stress. Take several drops when needed during labor. After a difficult birth, put drops on the wrists or forehead of the newborn baby as well.
Many midwives use blue cohosh and shepherds purse. Blue cohosh brings on labor when the baby is overdue and should not be used before the last two weeks of pregnancy. During a long, stalled labor, blue cohosh makes contractions more efficient and revitalizes an irritable mother-to-be. Shepherds purse is the best herb to immediately stop postpartum hemorrhaging. Take one dropperful of the tincture. For greater effectiveness, be sure it is made with fresh, not dried, shepherds purse.
Back labor pain and tension can be relieved by massaging with an oil made with chamomile, rose, calendula, lavender, or St. John’s wort. You can add drops of an essential oil with a comforting scent. Perineal massage is also helpful before labor, and as the baby crowns, to prevent tearing, ease any swelling, and lessen the sensation of burning. An herbal oil of comfrey or St. John’s wort works well; if you do tear or have an episiotomy, it will promote rapid healing.
After the birth, homeopathic arnica pills reduce the swelling of bruised perineal muscles. Arnica should only be taken internally in homeopathic form, not as an herbal tincture, which could prevent clotting. A sitz bath slows bleeding and brings immediate relief to swollen membranes. Use a mixture of herbs such as comfrey, yarrow, uva ursi, witch hazel, goldenseal, or garlic. Pour a gallon of boiling water over an ounce of herbs, then cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the strong infusion into a shallow tub or a sitz bath pan specifically made to fit on the toilet. Also squirt a strong comfrey tea from a bottle as you urinate. This prevents burning and aids in perineal healing.
Chances are that you won’t need all of these items at the birth. But after experiencing three very different births, I have learned the importance of being prepared for anything that may happen. So remember to call on herbs to help you, as they did me, minimize the pain, promote rapid healing after the birth, and reduce the need for any unnecessary drug intervention, as you go through this joyous time of transformation.
Kathryn Higgins – Founder of Motherlove Herbal Company
This year marks 20 years of business for Motherlove and we wanted to celebrate with a big bash. In May we rented the Armory Event Hall in Fort Collins Colorado to have an eco-friendly celebration as our way of saying thanks. Decorated with elegant flowers and delicious food, the day was spent with fabulous friends and family. Two amazing bands filled the hall with music and dancing went on into the night. Thank you so much for showing up and celebrating with us. We wish everyone could have been there, because so many have played a part in our story. All of us at Motherlove want to thank our customers, your loyalty and support have made us a success. We also want to express our gratitude to everyone that sells and helps promote Motherlove products, we could not have made it without you. To all of our friends and family that have been by our side since we were making products in the kitchen, thank you for believing in us. To all of the amazing employees that have been with us through the years, you are the best. Thank you for going above and beyond every day, you make Motherlove happen. We are honored to be able to share this milestone with you.
Become our fan on Facebook to see more pictures of the fun!
The Nurturing Life Foundation has a twofold mission
To promote breastfeeding and support mothers-in-need.
To create opportunities for children nationwide.
These are some of the projects the Nurturing Life Foundation has contributed to:
The Nurturing Life foundation is wholly funded by Motherlove Herbal Company. Thanks to the growing support of our many customers, we are now able to support others as we donate 10% of our profits to organizations that truly help nurture life.
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