Spring Herbs and Edibles for You with Linda Conroy
Meet Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs out of Stoughton, WI. Linda is a practicing herbalist, who provides herbal education, workshops and apprenticeships, as well as individual consultations and her herb store. She is also a community organizer and the founder of the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference. Linda shares her expertise to educate us on spring herbs and edibles for foraging, as well as those we need to be mindful of conserving. She also provides information about the upcoming Midwest Women's Herbal Conference and the classes and workshops for those interested in learning all about herbal medicine, edibles, mushrooms and more! To learn more about the work that Linda does, visit MoonWiseHerbs.com. To learn more about the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference and to register for the pre-conference workshops, visit MidwestWomensHerbal.com.
[00:00:20.330] - Candi Broeffle
Good morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversations, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life.
[00:00:34.510] - Candi Broeffle
I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, publisher the Twin Cities edition of Natural Awakenings Magazine, and I am honored to bring these experts to you. Today on our show, we are welcoming back Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs out of Stoughton, Wisconsin. Linda is a practicing herbalist who provides herbal education, workshops, and apprenticeships, as well as individual consultations at her herb store. Linda is also a community organizer and the founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. Welcome back to the show, Linda.
[00:01:09.060] - Linda Conroy
Thank you, Candi. It's always delightful to be here and talk about plants and herbs and healing and all that good stuff.
[00:01:16.070] - Candi Broeffle
You have so many things to get into.
[00:01:18.630] - Linda Conroy
[00:01:20.730] - Candi Broeffle
So I am so excited to have you back. You've been here now quite a few times. We've talked about the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference, which comes up this spring. And then, of course, you were here a few times also for the Mycelium Mysteries conference, which is the Mushroom conference in the fall. And today, of course, we're going to talk about the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference, as well as all the wonderful things that are happening this spring in herbal medicine. So before we get started, I just want to let people know. The Midwest Women's Herbal Conference, this is your 11th annual conference, and it takes place May 27, 28th and 29th. Now, unfortunately, your general conference is sold out, which is really exciting. And I know you have a waiting list, but you said that is especially long as well, correct.
[00:02:14.110] - Linda Conroy
It is long. And it's so exciting that so many women want to be together and come out and spend time together. So that's the good news. And then the hard news is that some people may not be able to attend who would like to. But I had mentioned to you earlier that we do have pre conference workshops that women still can attend. We still have spaces in those. And so women can set up a learning module for themselves by either coming for just a morning or coming overnight on Thursday night into Friday morning. And they can participate in some of the pre conference workshops that we have available and have.
[00:02:56.310] - Candi Broeffle
We want to talk about all of those. I want to get into those in case people are interested. They can still sign up and then travel out. And at least if they can't take part in the big conference, at least they can take part in that really instrumental learning. Prior to the conference officially starting, I did want to mention, though, that this is a big deal, that you sold out. This isn't a small deal. We're talking 400 people are going to be attending, correct?
[00:03:21.820] - Linda Conroy
Yes, absolutely. 400 people.
[00:03:24.810] - Candi Broeffle
That is just so exciting to me. And Congratulations. That's all I could say. Congratulations.
[00:03:30.370] - Linda Conroy
Well, it's really a reflection of a lot of different things. And one of them is that with the pandemic natural health, people are really interested. It's something that is growing in interest and in passion because we're faced with this health crisis that doesn't really have a conventional straight up solution. So people are looking for ways to promote their health and support their immune system and all of these things. And I think that that's one of the reasons. I mean, there's many reasons I think people want to be together as well because we really miss each other. But I also think it has to do with the interest in natural health, in the environment, because our conference this year has a very strong focus on the environment and conservation and caring for the plants and people. And there's a lot of healing workshops, not just on herbs, but healing trauma and healing our relationship with each other in the Earth. So I think there's just so much passion and interest that's super exciting.
[00:04:41.310] - Candi Broeffle
And I really think you guys have done such a great job. You and your team and the people who put this all together and decide on what the topics are going to be, you're always just it feels like a step ahead, a step ahead of what may be where everybody else is. So it's like by the time this comes, it is like the most timely thing for people to be a part of.
[00:05:04.200] - Linda Conroy
Well, and, you know, it's funny you say that, because I even think I'm more a step ahead of ourselves because we accept a lot of the workshops, like six months, eight months ago, and then we start putting them. It takes a long time to put the program together. And so one of the things that I did recently, I was looking through the program, and I was like, that's so interesting. We have a workshop on Ukraine food traditions, healing food traditions. Wow. And with the war in Ukraine and just how food brings people together and learning about traditions, I thought how serendipitous that that workshop is happening right now and that we couldn't have planned that. We couldn't have known somehow I think it's remarkable. Yeah.
[00:05:56.880] - Candi Broeffle
I think you guys really have your fingers on the pulp and like you said, you didn't even know it. No, we just that's the best part.
[00:06:05.310] - Linda Conroy
That is an example of where we didn't know. One thing about that, though, that's really interesting, Candi, is that we try to bring a lot of different traditions to our conference because women come from so many different backgrounds, and we're finding it's so important to know what our heritage is and our lineage and our healing traditions and even have had some women who've come to the conference, Indigenous women and black women say, learn your own heritage. And then we all have something to talk about. We all have something to bring to the table. We learn our own healing traditions, and I think there's so much wisdom in that. So we have workshops on Celtic traditions, Ukrainian traditions, Chinese medicine era, Vedic traditions. So really looking at all the different aspects, Ruth medicine from the African American perspective. So it's just really exciting to bring all those traditions together and have a really dynamic conversation and experience of healing.
[00:07:09.870] - Candi Broeffle
Now you just have everybody wanting to get to that conference and bummed out that they can't because it's sold out. So let's start talking about some of those pre conference events.
[00:07:19.510] - Linda Conroy
[00:07:20.340] - Candi Broeffle
Because I think there are some really interesting topics that people can still take part in.
[00:07:26.140] - Linda Conroy
Exactly. There absolutely are. So one of the pre conference workshops is on Celtic healing traditions. And so that is a three hour workshop happening on Friday morning, and it's with an herbalist. Her name is Heather Nicken Fleister. I always have to be careful about how to say her name. I hope I said it correctly, but she's teaching a workshop called Celtic Herbalism Reclaiming an Ancestral Tradition or ancestral Path. And that's on Friday morning, the 27 May. And then in addition to that, we have our keynote speaker, which this is a very special opportunity. Suzanne Samar is the author of Finding the Mother Tree. She's an ecologist. She has discovered a lot of things about how trees communicate in the forest and the interrelationships between the plants and the trees and the mushrooms. And she's doing a workshop, a preconference workshop that also has space in it. And it's called Lessons of Environmental Cooperation for the organization or for groups. And so she's going to be taking the lessons from nature. And it's a three hour workshop looking at how can we apply those lessons to our interactions in our communities and our organizations.
[00:08:53.370] - Candi Broeffle
You know, I don't want to interrupt you, but I do again. The last time you were with us was last fall for the Masala conference, and you talked about her book, and you were talking about how interesting her book was. And now here you have her coming to your conference in the spring. So that is quite the accomplishment.
[00:09:13.990] - Linda Conroy
It is so exciting to spend 3 hours with her. I think it's just going to be a real treasure if anybody's interested. Like I said, we still have space in that particular workshop if people would like to attend.
[00:09:27.690] - Candi Broeffle
And that would be great for women who are in leadership roles who are, like you said, community organizers as well. What an opportunity to see a different perspective and perhaps even be able to bring something back to your own organization.
[00:09:46.510] - Linda Conroy
And I'm actually planning to attend that workshop. Being a person who holds a container for the conference, I am planning on attending because I'm always looking for new insights on how to hold space and how to build community. So yes. And following nature's lead is very wise.
[00:10:09.370] - Candi Broeffle
[00:10:10.110] - Linda Conroy
[00:10:12.190] - Candi Broeffle
What is another one?
[00:10:13.850] - Linda Conroy
So another one is we have a very good friend who does a lot of our ceremonies. We always have an opening and closing ceremony. Her name is Judith Laxer, and she is an author of a book about the seasons, the wheel of the year and the Seasons. And she's doing a workshop called The Art of Ritual, Reclaim Rights for Rights. And it's a three hour workshop on designing rituals and ceremonies. And the women who participate in that will learn how to create personal ceremony, but also ceremony and ritual for groups. And she's fabulous at that work. So that's on Thursday afternoon, we have three different workshops on Thursday afternoon. So that is one of them.
[00:11:06.430] - Candi Broeffle
When we come back, we're going to have to go into a break, actually. So when we come back about some of those. Okay. For people who want to learn more about the work Linda does, visit MoonWiseHerbs.com to learn more about the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference and to register for the pre-conference workshops, visit MidwestWomensHerbal.com. To read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine, visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950Radio.com on Apple and Google podcasts. And anywhere you get your podcast, you're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations.
[00:12:02.890] - Candi Broeffle
I'm your host, Candi Broeffle.
[00:12:04.650] - Candi Broeffle
And today we welcome Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. So, Linda, just before the break, you were starting to tell us about some of the pre conference workshops that are coming up at this year's conference. And again, the conference is already sold out, but you have pre-conference events that you are still taking registrations for. So you had started to tell us about a few of them, and now we want to get into some of the other ones that you have coming up on Thursday afternoon.
[00:12:38.990] - Linda Conroy
So the 26th, we have a workshop on drum making. So everyone in that workshop is going to make their own hand drum from a deer hive. And so they can spend the afternoon putting that together and then being able to use it for drumming. The drums are beautiful. That workshop is available on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning so people can pick which day they would like to do that. And then another workshop on Thursday afternoon is one on working naturally with cancer, how to approach a cancer diagnosis from a wise woman perspective. And then one other one that I think people might be really interested in, which is a very popular topic these days is cannabis for medicine. So we have Alpha narcissor. She's an herbalist and elder herbalist from Illinois who will be teaching that workshop and learning. There's so much hype about cannabis, learning from an actual herbalist who actually applies it and knows how to utilize it therapeutically is really helpful rather than just getting information from the pop culture. So those are a few of the tastes of some of the workshops. You can tell there's lots of different topics for lots of different interests.
[00:14:00.360] - Candi Broeffle
Yes. And again, they can go to your website. They can check out what the pre conference workshops are and then register through your website. The one thing that did come out of this life changing event that we had called the Pandemic was the fact that you had to quickly change course when the Pandemic hit and decide how you were going to be offering the conference. And so the first year in 2020 was the first time that you offered it virtually correct. And you had some really good, really great success with that and decided to continue to do some taping at the other events that you had in person. So you have something on your website called the Herb Women Classroom. And in that you have a multitude of classes yes.
[00:14:49.390] - Linda Conroy
There's classes on both audio and video, classes on a wide range of topics. And it's really exciting because we have conference workshops. And then another thing that came out of The Pandemic is our Women's Winter Wellness series, which we did two years in a row through the winter. And it's an interactive series that women can participate in person. And we've recorded that, and that is actually available as well. And then we also did a four part women's wellness series with the herbalist from New Zealand, Isla Burgess. So we've been able through those recordings and those events to bring international speakers to our platform. So those are all available in the urban women classroom. And we're expanding our classroom actually in the next couple of months to be a virtual community where there'll be some learning modules with some question and answer opportunities and then some deepening learning experiences. So it's been really interesting to see how the Pandemic has pushed us into some other arenas Well.
[00:16:00.600] - Candi Broeffle
I just have to say, every time I prepare for a conversation with you, which is probably every six months when I go to your website, I'm just surprised at how much it has grown and how much more you have on it. So there is just a plethora of knowledge on there. So if anyone is interested in learning anything about herbal medicine, mushrooms, any of the natural types of healing, it really is a one-stop-shop to be able to go to and get some excellent information.
[00:16:32.030] - Linda Conroy
I mean, we are also producing these events and choosing some of the best teachers, like I said, from around the world. And so it brings them into our very own living rooms yes.
[00:16:46.370] - Candi Broeffle
Now for people who really are interested and had wished that they could do the spring conference, there is still an opportunity in the fall. Your fall conference is called mycelium mysteries. And it's September 23, 24th, and 25th. Tell us a bit about what you have planned for the fall conference.
[00:17:07.930] - Linda Conroy
Sure. Right now we're in the process of developing the curriculum for that conference, and it's always fun to see it unfold and see what happens. So we have some wonderful mushroom forays on Thursday, women will be able to come out and spend the whole day in the woods learning about mushrooms and trees. And so we have two experienced mycologists who will be leading those walks. We also have some artists who are going to do some artwork, teaching people how to draw and paint mushrooms as an art form, and not only as an art form. Drawing and painting plants or mushrooms helps you notice detail more easily. And then I know we are going to have a workshop on women's health and mushrooms, because we certainly are learning more and more over time how mushrooms boost our immune system. They help the endocrine system. They're good for our digestive system. I mean, you and I have had many conversations about the plethora of healing capacity of mushrooms. So we're looking at that and then some medicine-making workshops as well. And that was one thing we didn't mention about the conference is not only do we have those three-hour pre-conference workshops, but we do have a couple, three days immersions that are happening before the spring conference.
[00:18:26.110] - Linda Conroy
And one of them is on diagnostics. It's called reading the body. And then we have a second immersion, which is almost full. But I think there's one or two spots on medicine making. And so hands-on, how do you make the best herbal medicine? So that's in the spring and then the fall, we're planning on having a workshop on making mushroom medicine mushrooms for the Apothecary. And there's always cooking workshops in the fall with mushrooms because there are lots of fun ways to Cook them and prepare them. We're still putting that program together, but there's going to be just an amazing array of workshops focused on mushrooms.
[00:19:05.290] - Candi Broeffle
And the other thing is you're still open to having people actually submit proposals to you, correct?
[00:19:12.200] - Linda Conroy
Yes. For the mushroom events. Yes. We love to have people come and offer their wisdom if they do any kind of like we have people doing meditation with mushrooms. We have women who do know about medicine making or who are familiar with cooking with mushrooms or mushroom identification. We also always have other walks, not all-day walks, but like two-hour walks. If someone's knowledgeable and they would like to lead a foray, they can go to our website MidwestWomensHerbal.com and proposed workshops and walks for the mushroom event. Absolutely. The women who come to our events are very focused and really like supporting local artisans, and they're looking for unique products. And so our vendors report having really good experiences in their interactions in the business on-site. And also when repeat business because the women really appreciate the products and come back and look for those products in the future as well. So it's a great place for vendors to come and find customers as well.
[00:20:24.790] - Candi Broeffle
That's great. And you also have some of these events up on the Herb women classroom as well from the previous conferences. So some of the workshops that were mushroom focused, if people are interested in kind of getting an idea of what to expect when they come to the conference in the fall.
[00:20:42.810] - Linda Conroy
Absolutely. We did do Mycelia Mysteries online as a whole mushroom conference for a whole weekend. And the women can even purchase one workshop to get a feel for it and see if they like the energy and the experience of the event. And it's inexpensive to purchase one recording. And then you can just get familiar with the event and the cost of the workshop.
[00:21:12.410] - Candi Broeffle
You have an early registration right now for the event. So it's 325 to 425. And that's just depending on the lodging option that you choose. So tell people what's all included in their registration.
[00:21:25.790] - Linda Conroy
Right. So that range depends on your lodging. Like you said, you can either commute, you can camp. You can stay in a remote cabin or a close up cabin. And remote cabins are about a ten minute walk. So it's not like you're totally in the middle of nowhere. The price range is, I think, affordable. You can find something in your price range. It includes your lodging, all of your meals for the weekend, and really nourishing locally sourced, delicious meals. People say sometimes they come just for the food. We have this amazing caterer, Danny Lynn, who is just a fabulous job. And then all the workshops over the weekend. So you can go to walks and parades and workshops and keynote speakers. And then we have fire circles and we have our ceremonies. I mean, it's a very full weekend. Sometimes we have to remind people, make sure you rest, because there's always something to do. And so sometimes you have to remember to just take a breath and go sit for a bit or take a nap.
[00:22:33.290] - Candi Broeffle
This is a great opportunity. If women want to get together with their friends or bring their teenage daughters with them or teenagers with them, bring them with and let them learn early on what it looks like to be in community with women.
[00:22:47.240] - Linda Conroy
Absolutely. We have lots of mothers and daughters, and I just talked to a friend of mine who's bringing her three-month-old baby. And it is a multi-generational experience. And the Herbal conference, actually, the Mycelium Mysteries conference, we've actually chosen only to have that as an adult event not expanded into Babes and Arms are welcome to any of our events, but we don't have a kids camp or a teen camp for the fall event. But in the spring event, we always have a very robust kids camp and a very wonderful, inspiring team camp as well.
[00:23:27.290] - Candi Broeffle
Well, for people who want to learn more about the work Linda does, visit MoonWiseHerbs.com. To learn more about the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. And to register for the pre-conference workshops, visit MidwestWomensHerbal.com you're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM 950 the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you.
[00:24:04.520] - Candi Broeffle
I'm your host, Candi Broeffle.
[00:24:06.180] - Candi Broeffle
And we are welcoming back Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs in Stone, Wisconsin, and founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. So just before the break, you have told us about the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference, which starts here in May. And we've talked about the upcoming Mycelium Mysteries Conference, which is happening in September. But now I really want to get into what you do best, which is all about herbs and herbal medicine and identifying herbs. So let's talk about now that we are starting to see things come to life again, what are some of the early spring herbs we should be watching out for?
[00:24:49.710] - Linda Conroy
So there are so many. And it's such an exciting time of year because things start unfriendly and just coming up through the soil. And so one of the things is that here in the Midwest and anywhere where there are deciduous trees, we have a grouping of plants called ephemerals. And these plants are the early spring plants that come out in the understory before the trees leaf out so they can sort of synthesize and they go through their lifespan really fast, which is what ephemeral means. It means short-lived and fast. So we have wildlife or ramps coming up right now, which is an herb, a wild food that we want to be mindful about because it is endangered because of the over-harvesting and habitat destruction. So we want to be mindful of all the ephemerals for those reasons. But it's so exciting. We have blue cohort coming up through the ground, which is an herbal medicine that some people may be familiar with. We've got wild ginger coming up and we've got a plant called trout Loli. And there's just so many plants. Skunk cabbage starts coming up from the ground. And skunk cabbage looks like a prehistoric pointy head coming up through the ground.
[00:26:17.530] - Linda Conroy
And so we see all these things coming up through the ground. And also they look unusual, like blue cohort. It has a blue hue to it. So it looks like there's this blue curly thing coming up through the ground. And these plants are really important for a couple of reasons. They help the soil and the understory to stay intact. They help retain water in the soil. So that's one of the reasons why we get concerned about conservation of these plants is because they're super important to the ecosystem of the forest. Floor. And a lot of them have been utilized as herbal medicine. And unfortunately, the root is often the part that people utilize. Another plant is bloodroot that comes up, and that's amazing. That plant, the flower comes up first, and that's interesting. So before you see the leaves, we normally think that plants, their leaves come up first, but that's not true for all plants. So with blood route, you'll see the flower and the flower petals only last a day. I'll talk about ephemeral. They fall off in a day. And a lot of the ephemeral, this is something I just love learning about them.
[00:27:35.230] - Linda Conroy
It's so fascinating. A lot of them are pollinated by ants, and the seeds are moved around by ants. And so they'll go into the flower head, and some of the flowers, like wild ginger, practically lays on the forest floor and creates a ramp for the ants to climb into the flower. And they take the seed, which has this very interesting protein coating on it for the ants to eat. The ants take it back to their den, and all the ants eat the coating, and then they plant the seed. So they eat this protein coating that's there to attract them. So there's all this stuff happening right now with these plants in the first floor, these interconnections. And as much as I'm very passionate about herbal medicine, wild edibles and harvesting, because of my mindfulness around all these things that are happening, I do want to be thoughtful about what I am, and I'm not harvesting. So then that's the understory. And then you turn to the fields and we've got dandelion and garlic mustard. And these plants are plants that are so abundant that you want to forge a lot of those. So I lean toward harvesting those things in major abundance.
[00:29:00.690] - Linda Conroy
And then the other plants, the ephemeral, understory plants, and more moderation and thoughtfulness. But it's such an exciting time. I mean, everywhere you go, you see something new wild garlic coming up the other day. And that was exciting. And so there's just so many plants that are starting to pop through.
[00:29:22.490] - Candi Broeffle
Well, give us an idea of some of those more abundant plants. What can we do with them? Because there's so many it's abundant out there. But what should we be doing with them? Cooking, the food or medicine?
[00:29:37.240] - Linda Conroy
Yeah. So garlic mustard, for example. I mean, that is such an abundant plant and so abundant, some people get upset with that plant. But my thing is and a lot of people who are interested in wild, edibles and foraging will say this, like, just eat it, like harvest it, and you can put it in salads. You can add it to your stir fries and saute because it has a garlic flavor to it, and you can make pesto from it. I honestly think somebody should start a whole food business just based on garlic mustard, because there's so many things you can make with it?
[00:30:15.050] - Candi Broeffle
Is garlic mustard like a green?
[00:30:17.340] - Linda Conroy
Yes, it's a green. And you can also harvest the whole plant root and all because a lot of people want to dig up the root because they don't want to take over certain areas of their Woodlands or their garden. And you can take the whole thing and infuse it in vinegar and make this really nice, spicy vinegar that you then can use in your salad dressings. So there's so many things you can do with that plant. So I, of course, love it. And it's really mineral rich. So it's important that we increase our mineral intake in our diets. That's something we're sorely lacking in the conventional diets in this country. And so garlic mustard is a widely available grain that's really high in minerals. And so then too, you would look to dandelion. I mean, the whole dandelion is edible. So you're harvesting the leaves and the flowers. And right now, too, I like to go around and collect the little tight flower buds that are in the leaf, the basil leaf, you'll find the tight flower buds still in there. And I'll harvest that and I'll pickle it and make a mock copper out of it.
[00:31:35.540] - Linda Conroy
And so there's just all these fun things you can do with all of these plants. Dandelion is also really high in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K. So we can add fat to that because all of those nutrients are fat soluble. So a traditional way to prepare dandelion is to Cook it for those of you who like and eat bacon, to Cook it bacon fat. It's really delicious. And actually, I should clarify, plants don't have vitamin A. What they have are carotenes and keratinoids that could potentially be converted by our bodies into vitamin A. Really, you can only get through vitamin A from animal products.
[00:32:23.190] - Candi Broeffle
Do plants like dandelion and garlic mustard, do they end up losing any of their good, as my mom used to say, any of the good nutrients within them when you cook them.
[00:32:37.770] - Linda Conroy
So that's an interesting question, and it's a confusing question for some people. That concept is confusing for some people. So when you don't Cook grains when they're raw, like if you eat them in a salad, what you end up getting is some vitamin C, because the vitamin C is on the outside of the cell wall of the plant. And then if you don't wash it off. So I like to harvest in my own garden, and I don't need to wash things, and I harvest them so they're not dirty. Then you're going to get some beneficial bacteria and some beneficial wild yeast and some enzymes. But the thing you don't get from raw food are minerals. And a lot of vitamins are behind cell walls. And you have to Cook the plant to get behind the cell wall. And so if you don't Cook it, you're not going to get those other things. So when people say there's a lot of debating cooks versus raw foods, I think that we really need to integrate and ingest raw food and Cook food because in cooked food, we might not get the vitamin C, but then in raw food, we're not getting a lot of the minerals and some of the vitamins.
[00:33:49.350] - Linda Conroy
And so we need both cooked and raw. And really, I always say my favorite thing about salads, I make these incredible salad dressings with my herbal vinegars. And my favorite thing about salads is the salad dressing, because that's nutrient dense, because the vinegar extracts the nutrients from the plant and suspends the vitamin C. So there you've got the best of all worlds. Right?
[00:34:14.440] - Candi Broeffle
What is your favorite vinegar to use?
[00:34:16.960] - Linda Conroy
Oh, my gosh, I love them all. Dandelion, garlic mustard, nettle. So something that's coming up right now, of course, is also nettle, which is one of the most nourishing plants on the planet. Of course, a lot of people are nervous around it because it does can irritate your skin. But my experience is the more you eat it and the more that you drink infusions, the less reaction you have because that plant has an antihistamine qualities. So it's almost its own antidote. But I love metal vinegar. So that's one of my favorite things to prepare and have that as a nutrient dense vinegar even in the winter months. So while I'm eating all this delicious, exciting spring food right now that I'm harvesting that's coming up, I can also put it up so I can have it next winter so I can still be nourished.
[00:35:08.650] - Candi Broeffle
And then you get to enjoy it even longer.
[00:35:12.390] - Linda Conroy
[00:35:13.030] - Candi Broeffle
Wonderful. Well, for people who want to learn more about the work Linda does, visit MoonWiseHerbs.com to learn more about the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference and to register for the pre-conference workshops, visit MidwestWomensHerbal.com. To read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine, visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950Radio.com on Apple and Google podcasts. And anywhere you get your podcast, you're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM 950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations.
[00:36:01.820] - Candi Broeffle
I'm your host, Candi Broeffle.
[00:36:03.460] - Candi Broeffle
And today we're talking with Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. So, Linda, just before the break, we were talking about some of the very abundant plants that are around in the spring and also being mindful of some of the plants that we want to be conserving as well. But one of my questions I had for you is we hear a lot about invasive species coming in, especially in our waterways. And so I'm curious, are there any plants that you're seeing today that maybe you didn't see ten years ago? And are those considered invasive species?
[00:36:43.270] - Linda Conroy
Yes. One of the plants that comes to mind when you mention that, especially when you're talking about waterways, is a plant called Japanese Knotweed. And that plant tends to like really wet places. And it was actually brought to this country as an estate planting because it's very beautiful. And so the thing is it's escaped from those escaped areas, from people's gardens, and it really likes wet places. So it started to become what we might call invasive. I always call it prolific or abundant. And that plant is really interesting because there's a couple of things about it. One, it has been shown to help treat Lyme disease, which is interesting that Lyme disease is a disease that has come with environmental degradation and challenges. And so it's interesting that the root of that plant is being utilized and successfully in the natural health world to help treat Lyme disease. And then the other thing is the young shoots of that plant come up, and they'll be coming up soon, and they actually have a tangy flavor to them, and they can be utilized similar to rhubarb. And so you can make a crisp with them, or I even slice them up sometimes and just saute it with wild onions.
[00:38:04.610] - Linda Conroy
And it's a really delicious plant. And sometimes people call it wild rhubarb because it has that tangy rhubarb anywhere. You would make rhubarb, something with rhubarb, you could utilize the young shoots of the Japanese, not weed plants. And then as the plant gets older, it gets kind of tough. So it's not tender enough to eat anymore. And it almost looks like bamboo. It gets quite large, and it has like bamboo, it's hollow in the middle. And so actually, our native bees like to live in that hollow area, and they will plant their young in the hollow stocks. And so it's a real friend to the bees, even though some people consider it invasive. And then the other thing is that it actually is a late flowering plant. It flowers late in the summer. And so, again, it's a friend to the bees because when other things are diminishing their flowers, the bees love to go to that plant. So you can see how we have this plant that's considered invasive. It's an escape. It's not native to this part of the world, but it has all of these benefits. And so then in my mind, we start to look at the plant very differently, even though a lot of people look at it as invasive.
[00:39:24.610] - Linda Conroy
But it's medicine, it's food, and it's an ally to the bees. And the bees certainly need lots of support. I think lots of people have heard that the bees are in trouble, both native bees and honey bees. And so that plant is a real gift in many ways. So there's a book called Invasive Plant Medicine by a man named Timothy Scott. And he talks about this concept where these plants that are more considered more invasive are helping to alleviate health problems that are associated with environmental issues. And another plant that allies with that and that can be utilized in conjunction with Japanese notweed people are utilizing it for killing Lyme disease is a plant called Teasal. And that's a plant that also grows along roadsides, but it's considered very invasive. The root of that plant is also being utilized to treat Lyme disease. So you can see where we have these invasive plants. And then we also have invasive what are considered invasive mushrooms you had asked about are the things that we didn't see before. And certainly when I started doing this work 30 years ago, Japanese note wasn't that abundant. Garlic mustard wasn't very abundant.
[00:40:42.220] - Linda Conroy
And certainly gold moisture mushrooms really in the past five years, we've started to see them being more abundant as we've started to lose ash trees because they like dead ash trees. And so in my area, there are diseases that are killing the ash trees. And so then we see the golden oyster mushrooms growing abundantly on the dead ash trees. And they're delicious and very abundant food source right now.
[00:41:12.450] - Candi Broeffle
So are they used in medicine at all?
[00:41:14.870] - Linda Conroy
The golden oyster mushrooms, all mushrooms boost the immune system. So I consider all mushrooms to be food and medicine. So, yes. Are they being utilized as a tincture? Not necessarily, but you've got vitamin D is in mushrooms. Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, which boosts the immune system. So, yes, in the way I think that we would consider food to be medicines.
[00:41:43.150] - Candi Broeffle
So one of the things that I just want to mention to people because I found it so liberating when you told us in the fall, but mushrooms should be sauteed in fat and preferably butter in order to get the most nutrients out of them.
[00:41:57.820] - Linda Conroy
Well, in order to potentiate the fat soluble nutrients. And vitamin D, particularly because most of us are what a lot of practitioners will test people for the vitamin D and will be deficient in vitamin D for a bunch of reasons, because one of the places we get vitamin D is that we synthesize it on our skin from the sun. And mushrooms do that as well, which is interesting. We have a lot in common with mushrooms about how we synthesize things in our systems. So cooking the mushroom and fat potentiates the vitamin D and makes it more bioavailable to our bodies.
[00:42:35.660] - Candi Broeffle
Yes. And that much more delicious.
[00:42:38.180] - Linda Conroy
Oh, absolutely. That's the whole thing.
[00:42:44.230] - Candi Broeffle
So you have some really interesting classes coming up on the farm, and you have some things that I want people to learn about as well, because if they're interested in learning more, especially on the identification of plants. You have some classes coming up about that?
[00:43:01.290] - Linda Conroy
Well, I do. I have some plant walks. People can come out and go walking with me in nearby wooded areas and parks and where I show people how to identify plants of the season and then also this summer doing a two day immersion herbal medicine and wild foraging workshop where we'll be doing plant identification, plant harvesting, and also medicine making. And that is offered through the Driftwood Folk School. But you can find that on my website at MoonWiseHerbs.com. And then I also am offering with Ingrid West from Mushroom Farm. We're doing a mushroom two days of mushroom workshops here where we'll be learning about identification mushrooms for the Apothecary and for the kitchen and also log inoculation and how to grow mushrooms on both field. So there's a lot of workshops that I offer and for people who want to go in more intensive, I do offer regular apprenticeship programs where you can study with me for periods of time, whether you come to my house once a week, once weekend a month or actually. And this is a pandemic thing. I started a virtual apprenticeship program as the pandemic came to be. And a lot of my students in that program, surprisingly, because I send them out in the field and I teach them, even via Zoom, to identify plants, they become very proficient in plant identification.
[00:44:40.750] - Candi Broeffle
Like you said, with the art. They have to pay attention a little bit closer when they're trying to describe it to you in that, too, I imagine.
[00:44:48.610] - Linda Conroy
Yes. And they're very surprised at how much they learn about the plants that grow around them through the process. True. Because they have a lot of homework in between our sessions. But yes, there's just lots of opportunities for learning, and certainly there's other people who teach as well. So that's one of the things with our conference, like when you get introduced to a conference, you meet a lot of different teachers and you might find a teacher that resonates with you. There's just so many different styles and approaches. And so I encourage people to look around and find classes and workshops and go what they're gravitating toward and what they think they would enjoy.
[00:45:31.240] - Candi Broeffle
So one of the questions I had for you and we're going to be wrapping up here in a little bit, but I think we need to talk about it. Is are there plants or a lot of plants that we need to be really careful of?
[00:45:42.690] - Linda Conroy
Well, actually, there aren't a lot, but there are plants that we need to be careful of. And there's two interesting categories I often remind people. Well, there's a whole bunch of categories. There's nourishing plants, tonifying plants. There's medicine plants, and then there are poisonous plants. And then there are deadly plants. Poisonous plants. A lot of herbalists utilize poisonous plants, but in real small doses. So, like, there's a plant called Pope root that we utilize to boost the immune system. It's a very low dose herb. You don't take a lot of it, and you really shouldn't work with that plant unless you have some experience. Whereas drinking stinging metal infusion and abundance. It's a very nourishing plant. People who are new to the herbal world. That's great. It's very easy to work with that plant. Then we do have a number of plants that are deadly in our region. There are a small handful. I encourage people to get to know those plants, to get to know what family those plants live in. And once you get to identify those, you can feel a little more confident in working with the other plants that are around you and being hesitant and cautious around the plants that may be problematic.
[00:46:59.590] - Candi Broeffle
So again, another great reason to come out and visit you and take part in your plant identification classes.
[00:47:06.430] - Linda Conroy
Absolutely. It's fun.
[00:47:09.730] - Candi Broeffle
Well, Linda, thank you so much for being with us today and for coming back. You're always such a plethora of information for us, so we really appreciate your time.
[00:47:19.880] - Linda Conroy
Thank you, Candi.
[00:47:20.780] - Candi Broeffle
It's always a pleasure for people who would like to learn more about the work Linda does. Visit MoonWiseHerbs.com to learn more about the Midwest Women's Herbal conference and to register for the pre-conference workshops, visit MidwestWomensHerbal.com you're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM 950 and I am wishing for you a lovely day.