Program shows that weeds aren’t all bad

Photos by KATHY CLEVELAND Participants in Nicole Colvin-Griffin’s Local Edibles workshop passed around samples of edible greens, including violets.

LYNDEBOROUGH – People passing the J.A. Tarbell Library one evening in May might have seen about a dozen people wandering about picking weeds and showing them to one another as they waved away black flies.

The peculiar-seeming group was foraging for local edibles such as dandelions, burdock and garlic mustard, greens that grow anywhere and everywhere and are highly nutritious, according to presenter Nicole Colvin-


“Interestingly, the things we call weeds are some of the most nutritious food,” she said.

Some of the weeds are unwelcome species, including Japanese knotweed, a “horrible invasive” that is also good for treating Lyme disease. So maybe a different attitude is called for, Colvin-Griffin said, an attitude that these plants “come into an area and bring medicine that’s needed.”

Back inside the library, Colvin-Griffin passed around sample of edible weeds and concoctions, including a mixture of nettle, oatstraw and lemon balm that she said is uplifting on rainy days, and elderberry syrup, which was delicious and said to be a cold and flu preventive.

“It’s such a blessing elderberry grows here,” she said.

Colvin-Griffin talked about mugwort, which is good for dreaming. She said plantain, when chewed and applied to the skin, is good for insect bites. Nettles, she said, are extremely nutritious and good for arthritis.

Violets are in bloom during May, and Colvin-Griffin said every part of the lovely little plant is edible and medicinal. Plus, the flowers look good on top of vanilla ice cream, she said.

Pine needles can be crushed and applied to relieve chest congestion.

Colvin-Griffin talked about good sources of organic plants and invited people to sign up for more extensive foraging walks.

Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages aren’t allowed in the library, so she couldn’t share her dandelion wine or her cordials, made with medicinal plants steeped in brandy.

Colvin-Griffin is the founder of Rise Up! Center for the Arts, Healing and Community in Wilton. She is also program coordinator and environmental educator at the Peabody Mill Environmental Center in Amherst.

The program is part of the library’s Third Monday Series. The next one is “Green Burial: An Eco-Friendly Option,” to be presented by Sandy Lafleur and Alisha DiMasi at 7 p.m. June 19.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or