By Chelsea Rose Moore
Photos by Jessie Baker
As a mama to six children and wife to a farmer, Jessie Baker’s life is full of good things – and a whole lot of herbs. She grew up with a mother who ran a wholesale herbal, honey and vinegar business, and by the time she was two years old, she was able to identify more herbs than her father could.
When her oldest son was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, Baker focused on improving her family’s health through farming and healthy eating. As owners of Middleburg’s Day Spring Farm, Baker and her husband raise pasture-fed and chemical-free meat, and they offer produce, eggs and milk through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Their mission is to raise happy, free-range animals, without GMOs, antibiotics and growth hormones.
Although the Baker family was healing themselves through clean eating, they began to wonder: How could they continue supporting their immune systems and maintain overall wellness? Baker began researching medicinal herbs, and her discoveries have worked wonders for her family.
“If we look around us, we’ve already been given a lot of things that can benefit our health, so we can take control of and provide for ourselves,” she said. “It’s empowering as a parent. It’s so important that the doctors are there and available for emergency care, but I think it’s wonderful to bring comfort and healing to your children with things located around you.”
While healthy eating is the best preventative measure, she has benefitted from building an herbal cabinet filled with tea, fire cider, elderberry shrub and Vitamin C.
“It’s not usually a matter of if you’ll need it, but when you’ll need it,” she said. “You can do so much for yourself. It is very effective, easy, and it is not costly. Herbs really help prevent a minor illness from turning into something greater that would need medical attention. It’s a wonderful first step to take.”
By her bedside, she keeps a stack of herbal books to reference frequently. One of her favorites is Back Yard Pharmacy: Weeds That Heal by Rachel Weaver, which discusses common plants as healing properties. “Reading her book is like sitting down and having a cup of tea with a really educated herbalist,” Baker said. “She doesn’t just give you a list of herbs and what they can do, but she presents stories and examples. My girls and I get really excited by the fact that there are so many herbs in your backyard you can use to heal yourself (as long as your lawn care is organic).”
1. Fire Cider
A popular herbal remedy, fire cider is known for its healing abilities. It is immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. A spicy vinegar tincture, fire cider was invented by respected herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the early 1980s.
To support her immune system, she hydrates by drinking water, herbal tea and homemade lemonade. She makes a lemonade for her family with lemons, garlic, cayenne peppers and honey.
3. Elderberry Shrub
A historical way of preserving elderberries, Elderberry Shrub is sweetened with honey and made with apple cider vinegar. Baker’s Elderberry Shrub is available for purchase at her Cabin Store.
4. Immune-Boosting Tea
Baker makes an Herbal Immune Support tea, which includes a variety of herbs containing healing qualities. She and her daughters enjoy creating new teas by finding herbs that blend well together and researching their healing properties. Their immune-boosting tea, and other loose-leaf teas, can be found at Day Spring Farm’s Cabin Store.
Baker is teaching a two-day class in July 2018 offered through the Waterford Craft School. Her class, entitled “Herbal Medicine Cabinet,” is designed to teach students about herbs grown in their backyard and share ways to harvest and store herbs. Students will make tinctures and teas to take home. For more details, visit www.waterfordfoundation.org.
Her herbal products can be purchased directly at Day Spring Farm’s Cabin Store, at Mom’s Apple Pie at Hill High in Round Hill, and at The Paris Apothecary in Paris, Virginia. Baker also offers an Herbal CSA through Day Spring Farm, with herbal salves, oils, tinctures, and teas, and details on herbs and proper usage.
Baker is not a doctor and is not providing medical advice. Herbal remedies are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. The information provided is for the reader’s general knowledge and is simply Baker’s preferred methods for maintaining overall wellness. She does not recommend taking any immune-boosting herbs for longer than a two-week period. Only take when needed, and do not use on a regular basis.
Day Spring Farm’s Cabin Store is open during the winter by appointment only. From April – October, they are open Saturdays from 3-5 p.m. and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m. The farm is located at 21388 Steptoe Hill Rd, Middleburg, Virginia. To keep up with farm happenings and class information, follow Day Spring Farm on Facebook and Instagram at @dayspringfarmva or visit www.dayspringfarmva.com.