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Sonoma County Herb Festival



Cosmic Egg
Sonoma County Herb Festival
by LeeananShay

This year's Fourth Annual Herb Festival presented by the Sonoma County Herb Association was held and co-sponsored by Santa Rosa Junior Collage. The theme, "Honor Your Elders" honored both the elders in our community and the beautiful and medicinal and magical Elderberry species.

Because of my current interest in herbs, I have been looking forward to this festival for months. I must say that I was not disappointed. Starla, Nathan and Autumn were also there. Starla told me that one thing they had added this year was some activities for children. Since Nathan is only 3, this made his day. One of the activities was a treasure hunt. The participating booths each had something different and herbal related gift to give the kids. Nathan really made a killing. The other activity that Nathan did was to make a dream pillow. For a dollar he choose a material square and filled it with 3 different herbs.

There were growers and sellers from all around the county and beyond. One woman from Lake County had very good prices on her dried herbs. There were plants, lotions, oils, teas etc. for sale; music and nutritional food. What I liked most were the workshops. At one workshop, for a donation of only 50 cents, you could make a wooden tube. All the material supplied was natural. Tamara Wilder, the instructor provided around 4 - 5" lengths of Elder branches that she had gathered at high altitude in Oregon. The pieces are straighter from the high altitude trees. To hollow out the core - leaving about 1" at the bottom - we were provided with a cut piece of bamboo. I was surprised at how soft the centers were and how easy the hollowing was. There were pieces of Obsidian to scrape off the bark. I choose to leave the bark on mine. There were large pieces of sandstone for the first sanding. I used it for both ends and then use horsetails for a finishing sanding of the entire tube. Then you coated the outside of the tube with rendered deer fat. Tamara is very into tanning. She made the boots and pants she had on. The next step was to rub on a dye - either red or yellow. For this she had 2 large round stones that you ground with a pestle to get the color. Unfortunately I do not remember the name of the stone. A cork on top and the tube is finished. I love mine.

I also attended a talk by Nancy Kissam entitled "Return of the Natives: Culture and Use of California Herbs" that was very informative. Did you know that a good CA calmative replace for chamomile is the CA poppy. You can use the whole plant as a tea. The root can be dried and used as a tonic. Nancy has some every day. Her point was growing California natives are easier and encourages and attracts local fauna. She gave out several informational sheets. The sheet that listed local flora surprised me because fennel is not on the list. This is amazing considering the amount of wild fennel growing around and about.

Other events included:
Herb walks
SRJC's Edible & Medicinal Plants Herb Walk
Medicinal Uses of Local Weeds Herb Walk
California Native Herb Walk
California Native Habitat Gardening
Herbal Medicine Making
What do you mean when you say you're depressed
California Hispanic Folklore Herbal Remedies
Children's Herbs for Cold and Flue Season
Stevia: Nature's Sweet Herbal Sugar Alternative
Beginning Holistic Aromatherapy
Simple Kitchen Medicine
Herbs for Elders
Plant Spirit Medicine
And around 60 booths and music.

As you can see it was a full day. There was an alter set up with sage burning, pieces of Rosemary that you could tie with ribbon to the side structure in remembrance of someone, and eucalyptus leaves that you could write something on that you wanted to get rid of. The leaves were burned in a cauldron at the closing Equinox Ceremony.

I came away with lots of information, a peaceful feeling and a Wormwood plant. Not to mention my Elder tube. I definitely recommend this festival to one and all.

The Sonoma County Herb association is a group of herb growers, medicine makers, educators, practitioners and students. Their Mission Statement is fostering respect for the green world and our community through the responsible use and sustainable cultivation of herbs. For information call (707) 522-8500 or visit their website at

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