Farm shares of flowers and herbs are sure signs of spring

Petal Power

by Emily Kovach

It’s been a long, dark winter. It’s time to freshen things up around the home and office with flora and vegetation, revive the senses with color and fragrance, and replenish the body and spirit with healing oils and herbs. These two CSA shares ensure regular deliveries of potent plants to help usher in spring.

Tooth of the Lion brings its farm and apothecary to your door
Mountain mint, calendula, nettles, lemon verbena... Imagine gorgeous bouquets of fresh herbs, redolent with country air, arriving at your doorstep each month. It’s exactly what you’ll get from Tooth of the Lion’s 2017 herb CSA program. The herbs are carefully grown in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania (about 40 miles west of Allentown), on a 14-acre farm that has been using organic practices for over a decade. Owner Katelyn Melvin is pursuing a USDA Organic Certification that she hopes to secure by this summer. The farm’s mission is to empower communities through herbal medicine while honoring the ecology of its farmland.

In addition to the bundle of fresh herbs, the herb-obsessed team also crafts teas, tinctures, syrups and elixirs to enhance the experience for members who want to delve deep into the medicinal and therapeutic qualities of herbs. Intended to spark curiosity about the power and pleasure of herbs and roots, each share will come with recipes and information about each herb to help facilitate experimentation in members’ kitchens.

For just a few dollars each month, Tooth of the Lion will deliver shares to members’ homes, but during summer months, pickups are also available at Bryn Mawr Farmers Market on Saturdays and at Headhouse Square on Sundays, as well as at the farm on Wednesdays. This herb CSA can also be added onto the produce CSAs sold by Red Earth Farm, located in nearby Kempton, Pennsylvania (see page 26 for more info). A full share consists of a pickup every other week for 10 weeks from June to October and costs $180, with half shares also available. Need more color in your life? Add on a flower share for an extra $120 to receive a lovely bouquet of seasonal blooms from the Tooth of the Lion gardens.

Kensington’s Terra Luna Herbals is here for what ails you
Though Elise Hanks originally came from her home state of Colorado to Philadelphia to study fashion, she currently pursues a different kind of design: growing herbs and botanicals in her tiny Kensington backyard and turning them into herbal wellness products, including dried herb blends for brewing, healing skin salves, infused oils and fresh herbs. Inspired by her experience working on farms through the program World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, she also took classes at Philadelphia’s Herbiary and in 2012 began using space in her urban abode to cultivate a diverse array of herbs. While working by day as a florist, she utilized funds raised via an Indiegogo campaign to increase her herb harvests by building raised beds on top of her cement patio. Under the name Terra Luna Herbals, she mixes her homegrown plants with plants from other sustainable growers into all sorts of delicious-smelling and holistic products.   

Hanks sells her wares—try the blackberry and lemon thyme cocktail shrub or the calendula and angelica skin salve—through Etsy, at flea markets and at boutiques such as Ritual Ritual in Old City. This year, she’s also pursuing a CSA model to expand her reach: monthly packages of carefully curated products to provide herbal support tailored to each season. Terra Luna will offer three-, six- and 12-month shares, with pickups on the third Thursday of every month at various locations across town. Prices range from $120 for a three-month share to $480 for a yearlong subscription. The Terra Luna website offers a page to accompany each month’s share with bountiful information on the included items, suggested uses, links to further reading and easy sign-up for interested customers.

In addition to gaining more customers, Hanks says the CSA model affords her a greater level of creativity in her work.

“Instead of having my products be consistent throughout the year, I can give people more awareness of how much products have to do with the seasons,” she says. “I can explore a different topic or theme and base that month’s box off of that.”