Celebrating midsummer with Urban Herbology’s Lynn Shore
Lynn Shore is a magical herbologist, a green witch if you will, living and working in Amsterdam. She has studied and worked with herbs for 25 years, alongside teachers, such as Glennie Kindred and Susan Weed.
After moving to Amsterdam from the UK, Lynn launched River of Herbs in 2012, a small non-profit organisation which aims to encourage people to grow useful plants in disused spaces around the city.
Her education platform Urban Herbology, organises walks, apprenticeship courses and workshops to empower town and city folk to safely forage herbs.
Alongside the above, Lynn is a qualified yoga teacher, has worked as a special needs teacher and currently teaching full time at a school in Amsterdam. Her latest venture, launching this year will focus on natural beekeeping.
Lynn sitting in her River of Herbs orchards (Main photo)
photo credit - Amsterdamian
I met Lynn originally a few years ago, I was studying an online aromatherapy course at the time and on the look out for someone that I could learn more about herbs from in person. I initially joined one of Lynn’s foraging walks and was instantly hooked and have since tried to join as many of her workshops and walks as I can.
My illustration work has been heavily influenced by the Urban Herbology meet ups and I often create some of my favourite work following one of these magical gatherings. Last year, I was lucky enough to work on a project with Lynn, for which I created around 50 black and white herb illustrations and I look forward to sharing more on this soon.
Lynn’s workshops and walks are often scheduled alongside the seasonal calendar, where she shares information on which plants are available to forage at that point in the year and what lotions or potions can be made with them - nettle tea and elderflower infused honey anyone?
I was fortunate enough to catch up with Lynn to ask her some questions on how she will be celebrating midsummer this year.
What does Midsummer mean to you?
For me it's about high energy, lightness and freshness. Growth seems exponential at midsummer, both in the more obvious external plant and animal world but also inside of us. It feels like we are building up to a peak at midsummer. A peak of creativity. I often feel like I could stay up all night working on projects at this time, then the morning and a day at work comes which starkly reminds me that I need to maintain balance and preserve some of this energy. I try to lay down the planning and groundwork on projects up until midsummer, thereafter I work the plan rather than changing it, until it comes to fruition.
How would you normally celebrate Midsummers day?
I try to spend as much of midsummer outside in the fresh air, as I can. I simply want to be with the plants, in the plants, walking through tall grasses and flowers, listening to the birds and bugs and thoroughly enjoying the energy. And soaking up as much sunshine as I can!
On the actual day, I always aim to harvest some of my favourite herbs and make tinctures from them. It can become quite an industrious day for me as I really feel that this is the peak of the year and many of the plants which I use throughout the year are most potent at this time.
This year, I'll be working inside at school all day so I'll enjoy the morning walk in, eat my lunch outside and I've organised a gathering with freinds in the early evening at my local park. That will ensure that I get out and take time to relax and celebrate on the longest day. I'm looking forward to sharing some home brews, food, lime tree leaves and song with them in the park.
What is your favourite part about this time of year?
The smell of Lime tree blossom along the streets of Amsterdam. I love it! Cycling through it on the way to work is a real thrill for me. It's a gift from the trees, like Manna from heaven!
Which seasonal plants are you foraging at the moment?
I'm foraging very minimally at the moment as I'm determined to use up all my stocks before harvesting more plant material. So mainly I'm nibbling on Lime tree leaves, whenever I get the chance and using lots of dried herbs and herbal ferments. This is far less varied than usual for me but I feel it's really important to use things up before consuming more.
What recipes/ potions/ lotions will you be preparing in your kitchen this midsummer?
Definately Motherwort tincture. That's a mainstay in my herbal medicine chest and I use a lot of it through the year so I must restock. This year that's probably all I'll make for long term storage and use. Additionally, I'll be harvesting Lime tree blossom to dry and use for tea.
So this year I'll be harvesting minimally and focusing more on celebrating with friends.
Read more about about Lynn and her projects on her website https://urban-herbology.org/