Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Zen Herbalism

Today's post comes from the blog for my new venture: NGTHerbals. Here is an excerpt.

Sometime in the middle of the 8th century, a Zen hermit living in China penned a now famous poem entitled "Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage." It begins with the following lines:

"I've built a grass hut where there's nothing of value.

After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.

When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.

Now it's been lived in - covered by weeds."

Whenever I work with the plants, I try and remember these words. The relaxed attitude about it all. The lack of fixation on certain things having value. The surrender to the fact that no matter what, there are always weeds.

I try and remember, but more often than not I forget. Or loose track while I pick, pluck, and hack away, claiming the burdock roots for their liver health giving properties, while thrusting away the overgrown grape vines that have no clear use.

If we truly want to be healed by the plants, it's not enough to just covet those that will probably heal us. I'm convinced that to heal fully, we need to bow down to the mystery of it all.


yeti said...

Nathan have you considered combining aquaculture (fish) with a hydroponic system? While it may be difficult to set up for a cold weather region, by growing herbs and vegetables in a hydroponic medium fertilized by the fish poop, you can obtain great yields and minimize weeds and soil contaminants. You can even harvest the fish fertilizer from an ordinary goldfish tank for a small system, and the plants filter the water organically. You can actually drink the water that has been filtered this way...great for the fish and great for the plants. It can be a little tricky to get it right but it's a great taoist or zen activity to maintain the harmony of the system (and enjoy amazing yields).

Nathan said...

Hi Yeti,

Last summer, I visited Wil Allen's urban farm Growing Power in Milwaukee.

He has an amazing aquaculture system with multiple greenhouses with fish + plants. It's a total feedback loop with no waste (or almost no waste.) I don't have a greenhouse yet. Am using the yard behind my mother's place to garden in, since I live in a small apartment. But I'd like to try all this out in the future.

Allen's program is really focused on coming up with cold region solutions for low income folks to grow their own food year round. I want do something similar with medicine plants.