Those roots took hold over 20 years ago, when Kathryn Higgins started Motherlove in the kitchen of her family home in Rist Canyon, in the mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado. There she created herbal products with plants she had harvested. As the business grew, her husband built her a shop on the property, where she continued her hand-crafted business.
Then in 1995 Motherlove moved to Laporte, Colorado, the town closest to the family home. There we had an 1,100 square foot facility to house our growing business.
We loved being located in Laporte, a one-stoplight town so close to home. But after 18 years and many additions it became clear that we needed more space to house the current and future needs of Motherlove.
Last year we purchased a 14,000 square foot building in central Fort Collins, Colorado. We now have a full-sized warehouse, more office space, and new production equipment. This space will allow us to store enough materials to meet our needs, take advantage of more efficient equipment, and prepare larger batches of our products. We even have the luxury of space to grow into!
We’re also maintaining our commitment to the environment in our new facility. We carefully examined our energy usage, and made a number of changes to improve our energy efficiency, including installing new LED lighting. And we are starting to work on a solar installation in the back of the facility which will more than offset our total energy use.
As we make this leap into a bigger space, we remain mindful of the importance of staying true to our roots as a family company. Kathryn and her family still own and operate Motherlove, and we still work by hand, blending the herbs and pressing the oils in our products.
While our new facility is larger, we are the same family-owned and operated business that began in the kitchen of our family home. We are fully committed to staying true to Motherlove’s roots as we spread our wings!
Can I use herbs during labor?
Yes, herbs can be very useful during labor and after birth to ease pain, calm emotions, and help speed recovery. The following herbs have been used by midwives and birthing women. See our section on plants for photos and more detailed information on several of these herbs. Many products using these herbs are available through Motherlove.
Many herbs can help ease the pain of contractions:
Other herbs help with emotional balance during labor:
Today we’re very happy to share the birth stories of Kathryn Higgins, Motherlove’s founder. Already an expert in the power of herbs for lifelong health by the time her daughters were born, she used a number of herbs before, during and after her labors.
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. Now, hooked up to fetal monitors and pitocin, my cervix still would not dilate. Our first daughter (Silencia Deva) was born by cesarean with her head was tilted back, and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times. I was told she would have suffocated had she ever entered the birth canal. I was grateful for the herbs which helped me through a long labor, as well as 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 happily 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 was encouraged to use my herbal tinctures during labor when I needed them. Soon after the birth of our second daughter, I took crampbark tincture to prevent any afterbirth cramping and slow after birth bleeding. I continued to take this tincture several times a day for three days.
Our second daughter’s (Zenna Serene) 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 only dilated to 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 (Jasmin Jencine) went very quickly. I walked and squatted as we waited for the placenta to expel. But unknown to us at this time, the placenta 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.
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.
Motherlove was founded on the idea that the gifts of the natural world can nurture the most the most basic elements of life – pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. So we are always looking for ways to give back in support of breastfeeding and the appreciation of nature.
In 2005 we established the Nurturing Life Foundation, part of the original vision of our founder Kathryn Higgins. Today, a portion of every sale of Motherlove products is directed to the Foundation, which in turn grants funds to organizations that nurture life through support of breastfeeding and nature programs for children. It’s our way of giving back so that more children can grow, blossom, and have the opportunity to experience the beauty and wonder of the natural world.
We invite you to check out some of the breastfeeding organizations below that have benefited from our Foundation, and consider supporting them, too! You can also see this page for a larger list of the organizations we have supported.
Maternal Wellness Center, Philadelphia: The Maternal Wellness Center’s Healthy Mom’s Initiative provides holistic birth education programs to low-income women, including breastfeeding education.
Nurse-Family Partnership, Larimer County, Colorado. The Nurse-Family Partnership is a voluntary prevention program which provides nurse home visitation services to low income, first-time mothers throughout pregnancy and until their babies are two years old. We provided funds for the purchase of several multi-user breastpumps for loan to mothers.
BELLAS (Breastfeeding Encouragement, Learning, Liaison, and Support), Charlotte, North Carolina. BELLAS provides breastfeeding support for low income, minority and teenage mothers who often lack the resources to obtain lactation assistance. Our donation enabled BELLAS to train six peer counselors.
Breastfeeding Resource Center, Philadelphia. The Breastfeeding Resource Center is a community based nonprofit organization committed to providing expert clinical and educational breastfeeding services for uninsured, under-insured or low-income families.
Clara Maass Medical Center Foundation, New Jersey. The Clara Maass Medical Center Foundation supports the Clara Maass Medical Center, a community hospital which provides health care regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. Low income women who give birth there are in particular need of breastfeeding support. Our donation supported a part-time lactation specialist.
Which breastfeeding organizations do you support? Feel free to share!
At this time of the year we also love using herbs in fragrant, beautiful, and useful gifts. Our founder Kathryn Higgins has taught classes with kids during the holiday season, helping them create potpourri, wreaths, and bath bags for their parents.
These crafts make great gifts for teachers and day care providers, colleagues, and friends. And they’re simple enough to make with kids. Here are some of our suggestions for making your herbal gifts!
Potpourri: Fragrant herbs in potpourri sachets, placed in clothes drawers, closets, and even in cars provide a lasting reminder of the generosity the season. For an energizing blend, use herbs such as citrus, ginger, lemongrass, mint, and rosemary. For an uplifting blend, use herbs such as bergamot, clary sage, lemon, lime, and sage. For a soothing and relaxing blend, use herbs such as chamomile, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, and rose.
Wreaths: Herbs can be used to create beautiful and fragrant wreaths. The simplest way to create an herbal wreath is to buy a small, premade wreath like those you can find at craft stores, and place some herbs in it. For more of a challenge, you can make a completely new one with lavender, with sage or with a stunning mixture of herbs. Herbs can also be used to create these adorable herbal wreath holiday cards!
Bath teas and salts: Make soothing and detoxifying bath products like herbal bath tea or herbal bath salts. Soothing and relaxing herbs to add include chamomile, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, and rose. Detoxifying herbs include burdock root, citrus peel, dandelion root, echinacea root, fennel seed, juniper berries, and nettle. For soothing muscles, aches and pains, use herbs like chamomile, camphor, cinnamon, ginger, and eucalyptus.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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.
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