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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

The Healing Power of Seeds: Seed to Market Program Benefits All

Jul 01, 2015 03:06PM ● By Katie Irish

Looping through the beautiful hilly roads of rural Connecticut makes one appreciate how gorgeous the state really is, especially when the purpose of the journey is to talk with an herbalist by the name of Lupo

Lupo Passero, a community herbalist and flower essence practitioner, is the owner of Twin Star Herbal Education (TwinStarHerbal.com), a New Milford-based school of herbal and energetic studies. She grew up in Newtown and spent time studying herb and plant life in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina before returning to Connecticut with her plant, herb and natural world knowledge.

Passero often collaborates with Benjamin Schwartz, an herb farmer who runs White Pine Community Farm, a short distance away in Wingdale, New York. Passero and Schwartz met at an annual art and music festival, The Wassiack Project, and began a unique business partnership using their combined plant knowledge to provide healthy agriculture to people who might not have access to organic produce. Twin Star and White Pine Community Farm collaborate to offer the Seed to Market program, which educates students on organic farming, drying and storage as well as offering healthy, chemical-free foods. Seeds are grown and harvested under Schwartz’s supervision at White Pine Community Farm with the assistance of class participants from the Twin Star Seed to Market students. All seeds are grown naturally and become toxic free fruits, vegetables and herbs, which are then sold at farmers’ markets in Bushwick, Bronx and Beacon, New York.

“The [Seed to Market program] training involves learning to grow herbs from the seed stage and working with them until a completed final product. An example would be growing calendula [also known as pot marigold] from seed. When the flowers bloom, we make an oil with it and, when the oil is finished infusing, we make a topical salve [medicinal ointment] with it. We then take that product to the farmers’ market to help individuals with eczema or other skin conditions,” summarizes Passero.

Twin Star classes range in duration from one day to several months in addition to online classes with fees from $25 to $2,500. The Seed to Market program is a 125-hour certificate course with two prerequisite classes. The Level One Foundations in Herbalism is an eight-month course introducing participants to basic concepts of herbalism by incorporating wild foods and herbal medicine into daily life in addition to a basic understanding of health and nutrition. This class is held at White Pine Community Farm under Schwartz’s supervision.

The second prerequisite prior to entering the Seed to Market course is the Level Two Program Practices and Protocols of Herbalism. This course explores modern ailments and herbal remedies and applications. After successful completion of these prerequisites, the Level III Program Seed to Market may be taken.

“We only accept people into the Seed to Market program that have previous training in herbal medicine because students are required to make all of the medicines that we sell at the market. We also offer community-supported herbalism shares,” Passero explains. “These are similar to CSAs (community supported agriculture), except they’re based in herbal medicine instead of agricultural. So when students have finished their third level of training, they have a great base in herbal medicine, medicine making, growing herbs, and also talking to customers and the community about herbal medicine and how to use it in everyday applications. This is a big part of what the seed to market program provides as students get to interact with consumers at the market and really share their knowledge and love of the plants.”

The Seed to Market course also educates participants on herb justice, which is the belief that all communities should have access to high quality locally grown herbal plants and remedies, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.

Another partnership was sparked with Jalal Sabur at the 2008 Growing Power Conference, an urban and small farming event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sabur, who runs Sweet Freedom Farm in Germantown, New York, started working with Schwartz in 2011 to grow produce for urban farmer’s markets. In addition, Sabur also co-founded Freedom Food Alliance, a collective of small rural and urban farmers who help feed jailed prisoners and their families in Hudson, New York. “Food is connecting; it brings people together,” Sabur notes. He sees giving prisoners and their families access to fresh farm food as a way for people to bond who may not have an opportunity to do so otherwise.

Katie Irish writes articles and poetry and has been featured in 34th Parallel Literary Magazine, Connecticut Gardener Magazine, Finger Lakes Magazine and The Ithaca Journal. She lives in Hartford with her Siamese cat, Cleopatra.

For more information about upcoming classes, visit TwinStarHerbal.com or call 203-313-7883. Twin Star Herbal Education is located at 65 Bank St, New Milford. See ad, page 35.