TRAVEL JOURNAL 14: THE HERB FARM

Herb farmThis isn’t the Teenager’s favorite week of the adventure, but it might be mine….we are staying at a farm that grows herbs and processes them into balms, essential oil, infused oils, and soaps.OrnansOrnans 2Ornans 3We’re staying in a tiny little town in Doubs, described by a guy we met in the bus as a “little Venice”.Ornans churchThere are chickens and geese in the yards, and a church bell rings for every hour, and different tones for midnight and 7am (when you’re supposed to get up? ). If I wake up at night I can wait and listen to see what time it is.Ornans 4The herb business is small-scale, just one woman. All the herbs are either ethically wildharvested by hand, or grown in a beautiful garden beside the river. The garden covers a fairly small area, consisting of four fields.Rose Cornflowers CalendulaThe plants I recognize are clary sage, corn flowers, lavander and lavandin, Roman chamomile, two kinds of mint, calendula, sage, St. John’s Wort, geranium, lemon balm, and roses.Lavander 1It’s been dreamy to work here among the flowers and sweet smells. Even weeding the mint is blessed with simulating aromatherapy.Still 1There is also a little office, workshop, and outdoor area where the still (l’alambric) is kept for making essential oils and hydrosols.CatThe only animal here is a black and white kitty, but she is a perfect herb-house cat – little and plump, with a fierce personality. She catches mice everyday and does funny jumps in the air to bite you when you’ve scratched her neck enough.This week we have:*Harvested Roman chamomile flowers for infused oil. It is very different in appearance and smell than the German chamomile.*Helped clean the still after yarrow flowers. The essential oil is blue, incredibly blue like paint.*Harvested 50lbs of sage, and helped make essential oil/hydrosol.*Strained St. Johns wort and Calendula oil*Cut 110lbs of lavandin, a hybrid of lavenders that makes twice as much essential oil.*Picked cornflowers to make hydrosol.*Bottled lavandin hydrosol and tried to get the labels straight.The Alambric steams the plant material and collects the steam. The steam goes through a cooling vat and is collected in a special decanter with different valves so that the hydrosol (watery part of the collected steam ) is separated from the essential oil.The whole process smells amazingly fragrant and herby. Just after the herbs are cut, often they are hung to dry slightly inside. This makes the whole house smell beautiful, and I think the lavender gave me magical dreams.*Tromped through swampy pastures to wildharvest 10 kilos of meadowsweet flowers to make hydrosol.*Helped set up a market stand at the local festival. I managed to make a sale, despite a stingy crowd that day and new vocabulary words.*Rode in a horse buggy that was part of the festival. Teenager only agreed to come if he could listen to his music on ear buds constantly and it wasn’t too excruciating.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow, how relaxed or alert are you after all those amazing smells. Did you learn the whole process or were there trade secrets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just helped with what needed done at the time. I think alertness might have depended more on how late we stayed up with everyone! She was not secretive at all, and eveything she made was so high quality. At the market there were other herbal products, and she was the only one who produced her own organic herbs and eo’s that way.

      Liked by 1 person

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