Oils, soaps, salves, and candles made from organic products on farms and homesteads support a growing holistic healing movement in SLO County.
GreenLove is part of the movement, with a shop located in Avila Beach and ingredients coming from its 44-acre family farm, SLO Creek Farms. GreenLove works to help community members improve their health through organic flowers, herbs, teas, probiotics, and oils.
“My mom was an herbalist, and we learned a lot from her. We just grew up using herbs from her home remedies, and I ended up following in her footsteps because I always had a passion for helping people,” said GreenLove owner Ashley Gable. “Growing herbs from scratch and having it go from seed to bottle is pretty amazing.”
Gable said those who reside in California are especially fortunate to have access to the state’s native plants because they offer a variety of healing options, and learning how to use them is pretty straightforward.
“Whatever you need is either in your front or backyard, and there’s a lot of things around your yard that will allow you to make your own medicine,” she said. “With the internet, you can take a picture of a plant and find out what it is pretty quick, or you can learn straight from the Chumash, who live right here, and learn a lot about native plants.”
For those interested in beginning a holistic wellness journey, Gable said the easiest way to get acquainted with the lifestyle is to begin with raw, local honey, as it’s a natural herbal remedy.
While most people usually stir honey into their tea or other bakery products to sweeten them up, Gable said it can also have healing properties when applied directly to the skin.
“Honey works well with healing bug bites, it can support people who suffer from allergies, or some people can even just eat a spoonful a day to receive a vast variety of benefits,” she said.
Local honey and wild plants aren’t the only natural bounty available to locals. Hambly Farms located in San Miguel focuses on all things lavender, from healing to aesthetics.
Owners Milton and Gina Hambly grow eight varieties of lavender across 2 1/2 acres and incorporate the plant into essential oils, soaps, food, and skincare products. The farm also sells fresh and dried bundles.
“There’s hundreds of different varieties, and they all have different properties and benefits,” Gina said. “We have some that we grow for essential oils, some that are culinary lavender, some we use in bouquets. It just depends on what you want to do with the lavender.”
Just like honey, Gina said lavender can treat bug bites, and centuries of medical evidence show that it can help calm the body, especially in times of stress.
“The scent of lavender just helps relax the mind and the body; you can put it in your laundry, in your bathwater, and it’s great to help heal superficial burns,” she said. “As essential oils you can pop it in a diffuser, or you can use it as a soap, or calming oil. It’s priceless.”
If oils and soaps don’t appeal to you, lavender can be steeped in hot water as a tea, producing the same benefits.
“Other herbs like mint are really great in supporting digestion, and rosemary is great to support brain cognitive function,” GreenLove’s Gable said. “You can even grow a little herbal tea garden in your backyard or on your windowsill.”
If homesteading or farming herbs and flowers for health benefits speak to you, Gina said lavender is a good plant to start with as it thrives in California’s Mediterranean climate.
“It especially does well where we are because that heat is what helps it bloom,” she said. “So, for example, we had about four bloom cycles last year on our plants because it was so warm, and other places that grow it like Colorado and New York only get about one bloom cycle a year.”
Gable said the safest option for stepping into a more natural lifestyle is taking a slow journey into holistic healing and talking to your doctor first—but she added that those interested will be surrounded with plenty of support from the growing community.
“Once you know how to do that, then you can begin helping your neighbor or your community and support a stronger, healthier wellness in all of us,” she said. ∆
Reach Staff Writer Samantha Herrera at [email protected].