Wild Weed Workshop

Category Archives: Natural beauty

Wild Weed Workshop
12th September, 2018

You will never look at weeds in the same way again after taking part in this workshop.

Diego Bonetto is a weed forager, artist, storyteller and an expert on identifying the nutritious plants that grow under our feet that most people call ‘weeds’.

Take a walk on the wild side and discover the edible and medicinal plants that grow around us. Learn about the role weeds play in repairing and building soil. Find out how they have been used for food, craft and natural remedies. Discover ways to safely harvest from the wild and enrich your diet with vitamins and minerals.

Each participant will receive a booklet detailing 16 of the most common wild edibles of the greater Sydney region.

The Weedy One

We asked Diego Bonetto aka The Weedy One what got him into weeds.

Q: What got you interested in wild food and foraging?

Diego: Where I grew up, on a dairy farm in northern Italy, harvesting seasonal bounties is just another chore. I grew up with collecting bitter greens from the fields in springtime, summer berries and autumn mushrooms. When I moved to Australia 25 years ago I continued with the same practice of collecting gifts from nature.

Q: What are weeds useful for?

Diego: All sorts of things. “Weeds” are pioneer species, opportunistic plants with a specific ecological task: to cover soil and start the process of remediation after a disruption. It also happens that many of them are edible and/or have medicinal qualities. We can talk about co-evolution if you want, and that would explain why we have so much to answer about the proliferation of pioneer species. Weeds are good, and food.

Q: You do a lot of foraging in urban areas – how do you mitigate contamination by pesticides, animal faeces or other pollutants?

Diego: You only ever forage where you know it is clean. Even then, it is now proven that wild urban plants do not take up as much contaminant as we might expect them to. A simple vinegar wash would cleanse the plants of any dust and oils. But anyhow. I always say that the best place to forage is your own garden, so that you forage where you know how many dogs there are, who sprays what and also a bit of history of the soil.

Q: Do you have a favourite weed you like to cook with or use medicinally?

Diego: Depending on the season. At the moment I am waiting for the mulberries. In Sydney we have a lot of wild mulberries, and they are delicious.

Q: Are there any “weeds” you know of that are endemic to the Blue Mountains?

Diego: I do not think you can have an endemic weed. I guess native species that are a bit too aggressive could be golden wattle and sweet pittosporum.

There are still a few spots left so to book your ticket for the Wonderful Wild Weeds workshop click here.

Location: Upper Blue Mountains – to be confirmed

 

Eco-friendly spring cleaning

Ditch harsh chemical cleaning products in your home for these local, eco-friendly substitutes.

After the birth of her son, Archie (Archimedes), Natalie Beak was drawn to a simpler way of life. The freelance art director and television production designer had just made a tree change to the mountains and begun listening to The Slow Home podcast by local mountain’s mum Brooke McAlary. “Brooke spoke about simplifying cleaning products and habits, and I soon realised that we really didn’t need 15 different bottles of chemicals in the home,” Natalie explains.

“I started reading everything I could about natural living and slowing down, notably Rhonda Hetzel’s Down the Earth, Rebecca Sullivan’s The Art of the Natural Home and The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb.” This reading coupled with lots of internet research and even more making and testing, formed the background to a new business idea that was bubbling away in Natalie’s mind.

“Making eco-friendly cleaning products for my own family was one thing, but I wanted to share the idea that natural and simple is best,” she says. “Unless we work in high-risk environments where disease control is paramount, we don’t need to be using harsh chemicals in the home. The basics of vinegar, water and essential oils are really all you need to keep a clean and family-friendly home!” And so, Archimedes and Me was born.

Since then Natalie’s home-made chemical-free cleaning and personal care product range has increased to include kitchen and bathroom and general cleaners, salt scrubs, a magnesium bath soak and even a birthing blend.

Here she shares one of her basic recipes.

All-Purpose Kitchen Spray

In a 500ml spray bottle combine:

3/4 cup of vinegar

35 drops of essential oils (citrus oils like wild orange or lemon are great for dissolving grease, eucalyptus and lemon myrtle have amazing antibacterial properties, and clove is a fabulous mould buster)

Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled or purified water and shake.

NB: This spray is not recommended for natural stone due to the acidic nature of the vinegar and oils but is fantastic for timber or laminate surfaces, floors and cupboards.

For more fantastic eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products come along to the Co-op Thursday 20th September at 11am to Meet the Maker – Natalie Beak of Archimedes and Me.

Meet the Maker – Nina’s Bees
9th August, 2018

Queen bee

Nina Tverskikh of Nina’s Bees shares the buzz on being an apiarist in this Q&A with the Co-op.

What got you into beekeeping?

Nina: A few years back my life took an unexpected turn after listening to an intriguing podcast that revealed the secret life of bees. On that same day, I made the decision to give these clever buzzing creatures a sanctuary in my own backyard, and my apiary has been growing ever since. To date, my little helpers and I have rescued countless wild swarms and given them a gift in the form of a second chance in the Blue Mountains.

How did you learn to use honey and beeswax?

Nina: My grandmother (babushka) grew up in an orthodox family of Old Believers, living in the wilderness of the taiga (boreal forest) in far eastern Russia. All of her family had to rely on natural medicine in their everyday lives. All through her life babushka Sasha would collect and use herbs, make tinctures and salves to treat literally every ailment. I learnt my basics from her.

What products do you make?

Nina: I make all-natural, botanical balms and soaps made with bee products from my apiary. I also make beeswax food wraps. All products are hand made with organic and/or cold-pressed oils, essential oils and are packaged in recyclable containers.

What is the best part about being an apiarist?

Learning new things about bees every time I open a hive. Working with bees and observing their environment made me a better gardener and passionate advocate for chemical-free living.

Nina will be at the Co-op Thursday 16th August from 10.30 – 12.30 for a Meet the Maker session.

10 minutes with…
5th July, 2018

Renee Tilley of Paudha Healing

Q: Briefly, what is your background and what prompted you to start making natural beauty products?

Renee: I worked in the legal industry for 20 years until recently; very far removed from the world of beauty! It was after the birth of my daughter in 2011 that I decided I wanted a change in direction and enrolled in a Bachelor of Heath Science (Naturopathy). My study of herbal medicine and further research I undertook led me to start making my own natural beauty products. I was fascinated by the benefits of herbs and natural ingredients and also blown away by the results I saw in using these ingredients in my own skincare.

I went on to study an Advanced Certificate in Cosmetic Chemistry, which really opened my eyes to some of the chemicals used in the beauty industry and ingredients I did not want to use in my products. I love making products that contain ingredients that actually have a purpose/benefit to the skin, not just a filler to make the product look or feel nice but with no real benefits. I was receiving requests from friends and work colleagues who had tried my products and wanted to buy them as presents, so with a little push from my amazing hubby, we decided to turn what was my hobby and passion, into a business. It kind of snowballed from there and I am so happy I can now share these products with so many people.

Q: What does ‘Paudha’ mean and how does it inform your business?

Renee: ‘Paudha’ means plant in Hindi and that is what I wanted the range to be about, using beautiful plant-based ingredients to create an affordable skincare range for everyday use. Since launching we have received our accreditation with Choose Cruelty-Free Australia, which means neither our final products nor any of the ingredients have been tested on animals, during the course of their production. This is something we are very passionate about. We also package all of our products in glass jars in order to reduce our environmental impact.

Q: What is special about living and working in the Blue Mountains?

Renee: The Blue Mountains is such a special place. I truly believe you can feel the energy up here. When I travel to Sydney and return to the mountains, it is almost as if a sense of calm comes over me and I can breathe properly! We are so blessed to be able to live in such a pristine area. We moved to the mountains seven years ago and since starting the business, my eyes have been opened to the wonderful, supportive community we have here. Our business wouldn’t be where it is today without the support and encouragement we receive, not only from our customers in the Blue Mountains and beyond but the local business owners also. That includes our stockists of course but also other Blue Mountains business owners, that really come together to lift you up, provide referrals and advice.

Q: Any new products on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?

Renee: I have so many new products in my head! As for what is ready to be released, we have a Shave Oil coming out for men just in time for Father’s Day and we are currently working on a face scrub, although we are still a long way off releasing that, as it needs to go through all the testing etc. Keep an eye out on our social media pages or subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about when our new products are released!

Come to the Co-op Thursday 26th July to meet Renee and learn more about Paudha Healing products in the first of our ‘Meet the Maker’ series.

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