News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 18, 2014

Class shows beginners many uses of herbs

Uses include teas, salves, oils and creams

WEST TERRE HAUTE — Eight-and-a-half-year-old Allie Benson-Atterson on Saturday sat as she picked yellow petals from a herb called calendula and put them in a bowl.

Allie was in the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at St. Mary-of-the-Woods with Angela Atterson and nine other participants of the annual Basic Herbal Preparation class.

Allie was there “to learn,” as she quite simply put it.

So was Angela.

“It’s just interesting. I’m into gardening,” she said. “This will give a medicinal aspect to gardening.”

Intended for beginners, the class covered topics related to basic techniques for herbal preparations, including teas (infusions and decoctions), salves, creams, herbal oil and tincture.

The class was taught by Robyn Morton, associate director for White Violet Center for Eco-Justice.

“This is an art,” Morton said, but she wanted to show the attendees that it was also easy. She wanted people to walk out of the class realizing that herbal preparation “isn’t that hard.”

The calendula petals that Allie and Angela worked on were later used to demonstrate how to create oil for herbal preparation. Morton demonstrated the cold oil infusion process.

“Here comes the magic,” Morton said.

She poured the petals into a jar, added grape seed oil, put a lid on it (although not too tight to allow some air to escape) and instructed the attendees to let it sit for seven to 10 days, shaking it several times a day. She told the attendees to store it in a cool, dark location, among other instructions. Afterward, Morton said to strain the herbs and press pulp.

In addition to the different demonstrations, there was also some discussion about the diffent types of herbs, uses and preparation, etc.

Another attendee, Rusty Thompson of Sullivan County, was interested in learning hands-on.

“I’m here to learn about herbalism,” he said adding that he had taken an online class already and Saturday’s class was a refresher and hands-on experience.

“I’ve never had a hands-on herbal class before,” Thompson said, and was interested in learning “so that I can … make salves … [and] teas for my family.”

“I like to plant my own herbs and either sell them for other people to use or use them for my family,” he said.

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice is a ministry of the Sisters of Providence.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or

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