By Aidan Alvezi, 8th grader
Woodside is home to several raised beds where the students grow various food and herbal crops. The Middle School focuses on growing herbs which we then infuse into oils for our products. After we harvest the herbs we dry them for several weeks until they are ready for the next step.
When you use herbs in topical products you have to extract the oils from the herb into something called a carrier oil. It carries the herb to your skin. The herbs are put into the oil through a process called infusion.
How long does the Infusion process take? The process takes about six to eight weeks. The dried herbs are covered in a carrier oil such as oil or rapeseed and left to sit in sunlight where it infuses the oil so that they herbs healing properties can then be put into the salvas and lip balm.
What carrier oil do we use? We use both olive oil and grapeseed oil. We used these because they are very stable and easy to work with when we heat them and combine them with the bee’s wax and scents/flavors. Also, they are very good to use because they don’t go bad as quickly as other oils. They can last for a very long time which is key because the process is very long.
A special thanks to MaryAnn Sullivan who helped our class: grow, harvest, dry our herbs; infuse the oils; and make our salves and lip balms. She shared her knowledge of herbal healing properties and the process of making the products.
By Ryan Collier, 8th grader
One of the products in our line is our healing salves. Healing salves are a topical, oil-based, soothing rub. A carrier oil is infused with herbs and then it's thickened with a bit of beeswax for easier use.
When we make salves, we first choose what type of oils we want to use. We make this decision by looking at the healing properties of each oil. Herbs have different healing properties, for example: comfrey is a great wound healer, calendula is good at soothing rashes and skin diseases, basil can soothe muscle aches, sage is very good at healing and stress reduction, rosemary is good at reducing pain and inflammation, chamomile can ease skin conditions and sores, lemon balm is very good at healing cold sores and cramps, thyme can be good at anti-inflammation, and peppermint can help relieve headaches and migraines.
Once the oils have been chosen we place the oil jar into hot water and mix the desired amount of beeswax into the jar. When all the wax has melted we can test the salve’s consistency by putting a small amount on a spoon and letting it cool. We then physically feel the salve to check for smoothness and tobe sure the oil and wax have come together. After we have the salve at the correct consistency, we can add essential oils which scent the salves. The mixture is then poured into the containers and left to firm up. Labels are then designed and placed in the containers. After this, the salves are ready to sell.
The middle school students would like to thank MaryAnn Sullivan for helping us make the salves and sharing her knowledge of herbs with us.
By Isa Reynolds and Molly Luccini, 7th Graders
If you are having some trouble sleeping, our dream pillows are the thing for you! Our dream pillows contain two medicinal herbs called lavender and mugwort. Most people have heard of lavender but don't know that it has some quite amazing healing properties. Lavender has a sedative effect on the central nervous system and reduces anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and stress. Lavender is also a more natural approach to help with insomnia, It promotes sleep, decreases motor activity, and lengthens your duration of sleep. This provides a natural and restful sleep. Lavender is a very important herb and what most people don't realize is that it is right in their backyard!
Our dream pillows also contain mugwort. People have been using mugwort for thousands of years but it is a less commonly known medicinal plant so allow us to tell you a bit about it! Mugwort is a perennial plant that usually grows in the warmer areas of the Northern Hemisphere. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Because it is related to ragweed and can cause allergic reactions, people usually kill or remove it. Mugwort is known to help you get a calming and very dreamy sleep. It is also said to help people have clear and bright dreams. It also has many antibacterial properties.
We grow all the herbs used in our infused oils and dream pillow here on campus. Read our blog post on how we harvest, dry, and infuse our oils in another post!
The process of making these pillows is fairly simple. After drying the herbs we packaged them in small, porous, cloth drawstring bags so that the pleasant fragrance can be easily enjoyed. Next, we cut a fun cloth to size for the case of the pillow. We then took bunting and wrapped the herb sachet in a lining of stuffing for softness. To make the pillow, we sewed together three sides of the pillow and put the sache into the case. Then we folded in the edges of the pillow, and sewed the last edge in.
You can use this pillow by putting it in your pajama drawer and giving your nighttime clothes an aroma of sleepiness, or you could just let it sit on your bed while you sleep. The dream pillow is about four by five inches in size, not very big, but large enough to assure you sweet dreams!