Intern Adventures!

This is my 3rd year of having interns help me out with planting, harvesting, product making, foraging and more.

Early Spring garden planted…

early spring 2017

We also go on fun adventures!

You never know what we will be doing…it all depends on what is growing and who calls me to come harvest an abundance of something. This Spring we went to Dawn’s to harvests lots of elder flowers and will be going back there shortly to harvest the berries.


Just LOOK at the size of these bushes!

dawns house

Calendula later in the spring…

calendula late spring

One day we ventured over to Athens to the UGArden, run by the UGA students. My friends Maisy and Noelle take care of the Medicinal Garden and love the additional hands to help harvest. Here is the chamomile we harvested  –

uga chamomile

As soon as the pine catkins were starting to fill with pollen, we harvested the catkins. Unfortunately this year I only got out a couple days so did not collect as much as I wanted! Still a fun time 🙂

pine catkin harvest 2017
Pine catkins full of yellow goodness

The passionflower took over the garden so it needed to be desperately harvested –


lots and lots …

passionflower harvest

Sometimes we just need to take off on a hike into the woods, more often than not!


We only found 1 good mushroom – ONE!!! A beautiful reishi and yes in the background those are kudzu flowers, KUDZU FLOWERS in June!!! That is plain nuts, they should not be out until August, crazy weird Georgia weather this year.


I forgot to get pictures of our wild cherry harvest but we made cherry shrub, a fruity vinegar and sugar syrup that was sooooo darn delicious. 🙂


I love my interns and feel so blessed to be able to have them here helping me and to be able to teach them about herbal medicine. This is just a dream come true and it is all about the journey!

Blessings to you all,


Medicinal & Edible Benefits of Hibiscus

The colors of Fall are beautiful with the trees changing into an array of yellow, red, gold, orange and brown. You don’t expect to see many plants producing as you do in the Summer.


There are some exceptions of course. The beautiful Hibiscus Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), with its ruby red calyces and deep burgandy stems. After flowering, the calyx swell with a seed pod at which time we harvest the calyces and peel the red outer covering off to use for teas and jellies and more!


The leaves, flowers and calyces are all edible. The calyces are well known around the world for their gorgeous red color for your teas. In Jamaica they call their drink,  Jamaican Sorrel which is made from the hibiscus calyx along with fresh ginger and sugar. It is delish!!!

I do have one hibiscus plant but it bloomed late so I only have a few calyces to pick BUT I am lucky enough to have some good friends that invited me to the farm they work at to pick all I wanted!

My Hibiscus plant


My friend Denise helped me process this giant load of hibiscus. I could not have done it without her. 🙂


fresh hibiscus peeled from seed pods. Pic Credit*Denise Hardin
the leftover pods pic credit* Denise Hardin
All my trays of drying hibiscus!
My favorite photographer Denise Hardin

Here is an Herb Profile for you about Hibiscus:

Herbal Lesson on Hibiscus

Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as Roselle or Jamaican Sorrel, is a beautiful tropical plant with reddish green leaves, red stems, red calyces and pale yellow flowers with a red center. It can be grown here in Georgia if started early enough because it flowers in late summer.

Edible uses: The leaves, flowers, calyx are all edible. The red calyx swells up after flowering and then peeled to dry for teas.

To make tea: Use 1 T fresh calyces or 1-2 teaspoons dried per cup of water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten.

This syrup will keep for at least a year. Once opened, it will keep for months if refrigerated. The syrup is delicious over crepes, fresh fruit, custard, ice cream. To make cordial, a very small quantity of syrup can be added to a glass and filled with water. The syrup can also be added to milk to make a delicious drink.
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups calyces, chopped
Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the calyces and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the volume of liquid is reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and strain. Bottle the syrup while still hot into clean bottles and seal. The strained calyces can be eaten as a dessert with ice cream or custard.

Medicinal Uses:  Good for the cardiovascular system – can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Full of antioxidants, high in vitamin C

Cooling to the body and astringent due to the tartness so helpful for fevers, excess fluid, hot flashes, sore throats.

Hibiscus and Ginger Tea : 4 T fresh hibiscus and a few slices fresh ginger to a quart jar, add boiling water, let steep 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with sugar, honey – I used coconut sugar. – Anne-Marie Bilella  – Bella Vista Farm

Have a beautiful day friends!

Benefits of Shiso (Perilla frutescens)

Have you ever eaten Shiso, aka Perilla or Beefsteak Plant? If you have eaten in a Japanese restaurant, you may have had this yummy treat without knowing it. The name shiso comes from the Chinese word, zisu which means “purple”. Perilla, as I call it, can be green or purple depending on the variety and where it is grown.

Perilla is in the mint family and extremely easy to grow although many of you have this growing in the wild on the edge of the woods. Go check and see after reading this post and let me know!


Description and Biology

  • Plant: small, freely-branching annual herb that grows to 18-30 in. high; stems four-sided and covered with short hairs.
  • Leaves: opposite, ovate, green to purple with toothed margins; distinctive musky mint-like odor.
  • Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers are small, bell-shaped, white and purple with a distinctive ring of fine hairs along the bottom in terminal spikes or emerging from leaf axils; July and October.
  • Spreads: by seed that either drops close to parent plant or may be transported by wind or water.
  • Look-alikes: beefsteak plant superficially resembles basil and coleus and can be confused with other members of the mint family.***From

Medicinal Benefits of Perilla:

  • Leaves edible, contain calcium, iron and vitamin C
  • Good source of antioxidants
  • Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for asthma, colds, and flu
  • Seeds high in omega 3’s and support a healthy immune system.

I personally like to combine perilla leaves with kudzu leaves and lemon balm for colds or just a pleasant tasting tea.


Pickled Perilla



The following recipe was given to me by my friend Brooke. I tasted one of these pickled leaves and was hooked for life!!! The original recipe, or what was posted was on


Layer the leaves
add sauce and repeat layering


Pickled Perilla with Brown Rice Recipe

  • 20-30 Fresh Perilla Leaves
  • Seasoning Sauce: Mix the following in a medium sized bowl
  • 10 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon korean chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • optional – 2 tablespoons chopped green and red chilis
  1. Rinse perilla leaves in cold running water and drain them in a colander while getting the sauce ready.
  2. Prepare the sauce by mixing the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Layer perilla leaves in a glass container with a lid, about 3-5 at a time either stacked(I could be that anal!) or in a layer. Spread about a tablespoon of the sauce over the leaves. Repeat the process until all leaves are layered with sauce. Any left over sauce can be poured over the top.
  4. Cover and refrigerate. This can be eaten after a few days. It tastes even better after a week! Will keep in fridge for months!!
  5. To eat, cook up some brown rice and fill each leaf with the rice, roll up or squish it together and eat. 😀 Totally yum!!!







Stress Buster Smoothie For Your Adrenal System

Have you noticed yourself lately in the mode of going, going, doing, doing doing and then crash because you are OVERDOING?

Most women take on more than they possibly can, or at least we THINK we can do it all, and sometimes we can, but realistically we are not superwomen! When we try to do more than we can handle, we start to get stressed, tired, overworked, forgetful OR so hyped up that we cannot rest at night. Sound familiar?

If so, you may be in Adrenal Overdrive or you may have Adrenal Fatigue. The adrenals are tiny organs that sit above the kidneys and they control many hormones, insulin, weight management and stress response. The adrenals release cortisol when needed in a flight or fight response but some people have too much cortisol or not enough then they start feeling hyper to the point of barely sleeping or draggy feeling like you just can’t wake up and you are tired all the time. Stupid little adrenals! 😀 No really, we can’t be mean to those little organs, it is not their fault…it is our own doing!

So what’s a person to do?

Step one – STOP what you are doing – even reading this, and go outside for 10 minutes. Just go out and sit somewhere under a tree or go for a walk, just YOU and only YOU! I will wait……

Ahhhh do you feel a little better now? I do! OK so I didn’t come right back after going outside. I got distracted doing chores, then making dinner, cleaning up, feeding outside critters and finishing up on a case study.

Step 2  Can you take away one commitment per week? Because if you do not and commit to tooooo much then…this will happen – from Aviva Romm below –

Being in a constant self-push can drive you right into adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is dangerous. It can disrupt your sleep, hormones, weight, immunity, and memory and concentration. It causes us to have cravings for fat, sugar, and salt. It makes us insulin resistant, and gives us weight around our bellies that causes inflammation and is really hard to take off. It makes us irritable, moody, anxious, and depressed.

If you want to read a whole lot more than I can share with you – check out Aviva Romm’s blog post above in the link.

Meanwhile Step 3 – here is a recipe for an awesome herbal mix to add to a smoothie. It will nourish your adrenals, build stamina and help fight fatigue.

Stress Busting Smoothie Mix

Wonderful mixture of adaptogenic herbs to help your body handle stressful situations, balance emotions and strengthen your adrenals.

  • 3 parts Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
  • 1 part Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • 2 parts Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
  • 1 part Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
  • 1/2 part Nettles (Urtica dioica)
  • 1/2 part Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

stress buster smootie mix

Parts can be teaspoons, tablespoons or cups if making a giant jar full. Grind the herbs to a powder and mix all together. You can find all of the above herbs at my favorite place – Mountain Rose Herbs! Click here to find what you need. OR you can just order a jar of the mix from me. 🙂

To use: Take 1 teaspoon of the mix and add to a smoothie once per day OR add to warm almond milk with a touch of honey or maple syrup.

Enjoy and have a peaceful evening!


Beeswax – the block or the pastilles?

One day I will have my own bees – so I can have honey and BEESWAX! Until then I have to buy beeswax in either a giant block or in a more processed pastilles(fancy word for pellets).

Dealing with the pastilles is easy, peasy – you just open the bag and scoop em out. Yeah real convenient….but it does go through extra processing and it costs a bit more. If you want some just go here. So I get the block or should I say the brick because that is exactly what it feels like especially when cutting it up. Yep you gotta cut it up using every muscle in your body and no way can you grate this giant thing. Beeswax is not cooperative. Soooo I could melt the giant brick in a pot that may or may not take a few hours and then pour it into little molds or ice cube trays. Did I do that this time? Nope.

The beeswax brick
The beeswax brick

Here goes – if you want a bit of a workout, you can do it this way or enlist your hubby or your kids, the neighbors kids, well maybe not the kids – not with a big knife like I have.

I took out all of my kitchen tools: the cutting board, the crinkle cutter, the chefs knife, a sledge hammer(no just kidding 😀 ) –


First I tried using the crinkle cutter, rocking it back and forth and all I got was like an 1/8th of the way through it – using muscle. Whoa baby this – is – hard! So I went to the big chefs knife as I have done before, and tried cutting right where the crinkle cut left off. It took an extreme effort, breaking a sweat and my hands hurt but I did it.




Next I had the cut the hunk it itty bitty pieces – way easier than the chunk.



I swear though, this chore took at least 30 minutes and I only cut 1 pound of the 2 pound block – hahahaha!

Wrapped the rest up!
Wrapped the rest up!

Do you think Pampered Chef realized someone would be using their tools for chopping beeswax instead of veggies? Maybe I should send a picture to them. 😀


So to clean these tools, uhhh throw away….no really they can be cleaned! Use a scraper, wet the tools and scrape off all excess before using soap and water.


Next time – I really will melt it down to make it easier. Silly me!!!

Hope you had some laughs on this one. Have a beautiful day!


Happy Easter: The Story Of Passionflower

Happy Easter to all of you! In preparation for my wishes to you this morning, I was reminded of the story of passionflower.

Since medicinal plants are pretty much my life now, I thought this story was perfect for today – please share it will those near and dear to you as we remember and celebrate the reason for Easter.

passionflowers AM

Passionflower – The Passion of Christ

passionflower symbolism

Passion Flowers have been associated with the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ as well as the Passion of Christ. The latter association led the missionaries to name the flowers “Passion Flowers.”

The ten petals and sepals, to the Spanish, represented ten disciples present at the crucifixion. (excluding Judas and Peter)

The three stigma represented three nails that held Christ to the cross.

The five anthers the five wounds of Christ.

The tendrils are said to represent the whips used in the flagellation.

The many fringes represented the crown of thorns in the passion story. Bosio counted 72 fringes or filaments, which according to tradition, writes Vanderplank, is the number of thorns in the crown of thorns.

This powerful symbolism has led to the inclusion of the Passion Flower among the ornamentation of various churches, such as in stained glass window designs, altar frontals and lectern falls.

But the Passion Flower is sacred even outside the Christian world. In India, for example, the flower’s structure is interpreted according to the story of the five Pandava brothers, with the Divine Krishna at the center, opposed by the army of one hundred at the outside edges. The pigment of the blue Passion Flower is said to be associated with the color of Krishna’s aura.

Interpretations vary in literature. A poet of the time explains that this flower was used to persuade Indians of the power of the cross. The passion flower, he writes, was a witness at the crucifixion.

References – ,,

Have a Blessed Easter!


NEW Herbal CSA!

Bella Vista Farm is excited to offer a quarterly share in our new Herbal CSA.

Here are the basics of a CSA if you are unsure of what it is.

While we will not be offering fresh produce and meat, we will be offering a quarterly basket of Herbal Remedies and Fresh Herbs that relate to the season in which it is purchased.

For example, a winter share might include: Elderberry Syrup, Echinacea tincture, Winter Immune Tea, Reusable Heat Pack, Infused Honey, Sugar Scrubs and a Lip Remedy for Chapped Lips.

Our Herbal CSA provides sustainable, healthy, locally produced plant medicines made by with the skill, knowledge, intention and love of your herbalist.

Our products are handcrafted with herbs that we grow, harvest from the wild or from a trusted ethically grown source, with the intention of using as many locally-sourced herbs as possible.

With each basket, you will receive 6 products that may include tinctures, tea blends, salves, lotions, sprays, fresh or dried herbs, infused honey and vinegars with an herbal information sheet showing each product and how to use it as well as recipes. Sometimes we will include a special surprise. 🙂 Each yearly share purchase includes one free $30 class of your choosing.

20150310_092824_resized (1024x576)
Summer basket may include insect repellent, jewelweed salve, calendula tincture, sunflower rose lotion, lip balm and a 1.5 oz tea blend.


This CSA will be limited to 25 people. 2015 Baskets will be distributed in April/June/September/December

If you’d like to support grassroots herbalism consider joining Bella Vista Farm’s CSA today!

Yearly total cost $240. You will receive one basket each quarter for a total of 4 baskets. This is in one payment. If you need a payment plan, contact me by email:

To purchase your share use this link to paypal.

Thank you to friends that cheered me on during this start up process, getting an idea to a launch – you know who you are 😉


Herbs in Chocolate

Chocolate, Cocoa, Cacao….however you say it, it is delicious! On Saturday I taught a class here on Herbal Chocolates. You heard me right HERBS and CHOCOLATE together. 🙂

First of all if you did not already know, Chocolate or Cacao(Theobroma cacao) is medicinal all in it’s self. It elevates mood, stimulates(only half the caffeine of coffee), increases seratonin levels, high in nutrition, when eaten as raw cacao and here is a new one that I had no idea about: Chocolate relaxes bronchial spasms! WOW! So yes your chocolate can be in your cough syrup too!

Here is a delicious cough syrup remedy that is decadently delicious.

choc syrup3

choc syrup1

Chocolate Cough Syrup

2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

2 Tablespoons Raw Honey

120 drops of a Lung Support Tincture I used one from Sprout’s – here is a pic to show the herbs in it:

choc syrup2

Mix it all together in a 4 ounce jelly jar. Start to finish, about 2 minutes. Dose is 1 teaspoon 3 times a day to help coughing. Children can take this too but depending on age, you would have to reduce the dosage. 

A good rule for children’s dosages is: Add 12 to the child’s age then divide the child’s age by that number. Example: 4 year old child. Add 4 to 12 = 16 Divide 4/16 = .25 so a four year old’s dose is 1/4th an adult dose.

We also infused dark chocolate with herbs, see recipe here

Our next chocolate creation – and I am so sorry I did not take pictures of each step but when I make them again this week, I will add the photos. 😀

Here is our finished product:

choc stress balls

Chocolate Stress Balls – recipe adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Zoom Balls

These are a great way to take your herbs – and to hide them from our family in delicious chocolately form. 😉

3 cups Tahini

1 cup almond butter

2 cups honey

2 ounces Eleuthero Root powder – helps stress, increases stamina and endurance, good for adrenal fatigue and strengthens the immune system.

1 ounce Nettle leaf powder – high in vitamins, protein and iron, for energy, hair loss and is a blood tonic

2 ounces Ashwagandha powder – for fatigue, reproductive health, longevity, hypothyrodism

1 ounce Hawthorn Berry powder – heart tonic!

1 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. cardamom powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup chopped dried fruits

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

½ cup chopped nuts

2 ounces cocoa powder – enough to thicken

½ cup dried or toasted coconut

Mix tahini & almond butter. Add honey – you want it sweeter than you think at this point. Add the herbs one at a time and mix well. This does take awhile. Add the cocoa powder but not all at once! You want it thick, good consistency to roll but not gooey. Add fruits and nuts. Roll into balls – 1” size or golf ball size. Roll in cocoa, coconut or hawthorn berry powder. Eat two small ones or 1 large one per day. Keeps in airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple weeks. Makes approximately 80-90 balls.
Wildcrafting Wednesday
Enjoy these recipes, do you have any herbal chocolate recipes to share?


Herbal Recipe For Vitamin C Pills

Do you take a vitamin C supplement each day? Do you REALLY know what is in that vitamin C or how much real fruit is in there? Hmmm… if you are like most of us, the answer is probably a big fat no.

While I do know medicinal plants, I do not really know the full scoop of vitamin supplements. Could be because I prefer to take my vitamins in its natural state – FOOD! We need vitamin C, especially this time of year to support our immune system. My husband must have vitamin C for his arthritis. My mom told me that years ago, many years ago and I kind of poo pooed it. Well yes it is a fact vitamin C will help alleviate arthritic symptoms. I didn’t know better back then. 🙂

After talking to my herbal teacher and friend, she informed me the brand we had was no good – it was Sundowners Naturals 500mg. Oh no! This is what she said “That is not very good quality Vitamin C nor is it a good type. You want Vitamin C with bioflavanoids, time released. Dosage to reduce inflammation, given his weight, should be about 2,000 mg twice a day. Now too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea so start with 500 mg twice a day and increase by 500 mg every two days till he is taking 2,000 2x/day. ”

I was lost at the health food store with all of the choices so that night up came the post from Learning Herbs for a recipe “How to Make Your Own Vitamin C Pills”. Perfect!

vit c4 (1024x576)

Here is the original post from them if you would like to check it out – HERE. Learning Herbs is a wonderful resource.

The recipe uses Rose Hips, Acerola, Amla, Honey and Orange Peel Powder.

I had no idea what Acerola and Amla were so I investigated further. They are fruits just like the rest, we can’t possibly know every fruit in the world, right? 😀

Here is a bit about each fruit:

rose hips

Rose hips(Rosa rugosa) are the fruit that appears after the roses are finished flowering. Do not use the hips from Knockout roses, you need the Rosa Rugosa species. I know this from experience but with the roses because I decided I wanted a rose infused lotion and use the knockout roses to infuse my water – yucko. Not a nice smell – at – all. Rose hips are very high in vitamin C


Acerola(Malpighia emarginata) FROM *Mountain Rose Herbs – *Acerola is a fast growing bushy shrub or small tree with small pink and white flowers. The fruits are round and ovoid with three lobes, and are said to have a pleasant, tart taste. They are bright red when ripe, and come to maturity approximately 25 days after the first buds appear. The fruit of the acerola is the richest known source of natural vitamin C in the world. They are usually picked when still green, because in this state they have almost twice as much vitamin C as when fully ripened. Known as extremely high in vitamin C and antioxidants, acerola fruit is also high in iron, calcium, beta carotenes and phosphorus.

By the way I read that IF you have an allergy to latex, you COULD possibly have an allergy to Acerola – be forewarned.


***I found the above Amla info although I do NOT know anything about the company associated with the picture***

Amla(Phyllanthus emblica) or Indian Gooseberry is a green berry that has a sour, bitter and astringent taste. High in vitamin C.

The Orange Peel Powder is optional to roll your little pills in, it is good so don’t leave it out. 🙂 AND Honey – well it is HONEY!!! Just make sure it is raw. Here is the recipe:

Recipe For Vitamin C Pills

1 Tablespoon Rosehip Powder

1 Tablespoon Amla Powder

1 Tablespoon Acerola Powder

1-2 Tablespoons of honey – maybe more

About 1 Tablespoon Orange Peel Powder


this recipe is so easy, the longest part of it is rolling the little pills. Enlist the family and you’ll be done in no time.

vit c1 (1024x576)

I had to use my coffee grinder for two of the ingredients – the orange peels and the rosehips. Easy to grind – probably could have gotten the orange peels finer.vit c2 (1024x576)vit c3 (1024x576)

Measure out all of the ingredients: I doubled the recipe.

Take the honey and warm it a bit on the stove just to make mixing easier and I believe it helps it blend more. Pour honey, a little at a time, over the powders and mix well. If you need more honey just add a tiny bit at a time so you don’t have to add more powders.

vit c5 (1024x576)

Next take pea sized portions and squish them together, I found this easier than rolling although maybe more honey would help?

Drop them into the bowl with the orange peel powder and toss to coat.

vit c6 (1024x576)

Continue until they are all done. One batch will make approximately 45 pills, I made 90 since I doubled the batch, actually I stopped counting after 65. 😀

vit c7 (1024x576)

Put them in a jar and store them in a cool, dry place. Eat 1-3 per day. More than that may cause you to visit the bathroom a bit too much!!! We are starting with 2 per day. I like the taste, my hubby does not but he eats it. I THINK I will lower the portion of Amla next time and see if it makes a difference.

Enjoy your day today!


Disclosure statement: While I may recommend certain herbs and foods for any illnesses, allergies, skin conditions, natural beauty care and household cleaning, as a reader and a consumer use what I say to research further on your end. I am not a doctor but I am an herbalist not a licensed practitioner but  always learning to improve our lives and to relay what I  have learned on to you!
Sometimes this site includes affiliate links from trusted companies that I personally deal with and approve. By clicking on the links provided in my posts, I do receive a small commission with each purchase at no cost to you. It helps pay for my time spent writing, exploring new products and to bring you the best content that I can. I hope to provide giveaways that are provided from our affiliates soon.
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