Terra Sura Foraging » Foraging for Life

  • Welcome to Terra Sura!

    Terra Sura meaning "mother earth" and "new leaf" is a visual blogsite which reflects this everchanging beautiful planet. A go-to site which explores midwest plants, herbal remedies, foraging, plant identification, recipes as well as highlights of local and global movements in honor of mother earth.

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Let me just say refreshing, refreshing, refreshing!  Thanks to one of my herbal teachers, Jesse Beldon who introduced me to oxymels.  I absolutely love playing with all of the fresh flavors and knowing that I am doing my body good.

So let’s talk about harvesting spruce tips.  They are what they seem, the tip of the spruce tree that emerges in the spring.  They are good to harvest when you can distinctly can see the bright green new growth.  If you wait too long and they begin to harden, it is too late to nibble on these tender greens.  Yes, nibble away and try out different trees as the taste varies.

Spruce tips can be eaten raw, added to salads, smoothies, flavored water, soups, stir-frys and whatever else you can imagine.  To me they have a slightly bitter citrus and piney flavor being astringent and a bit drying.  It definitely wakes me up with its strong impression.


Spruce tips are high in Vitamin C and contain minerals such as potassium & magnesium.  Spruce has been used to sooth sore throats and used as a cough remedy.

“Spruce tips contain plenty of chlorophyll, which helps growing and healing tissues, controlling cravings, as well as transporting oxygen to cells. It also neutralizes free radicals, keeps blood sugar balanced, accelerates wound healing and bonds poisonous metals present in your body.” (Nele Liivlaid)

There is no exact science to making this oxymels and proportions should be based upon taste preference with these particular ingredients.  I have close to equal portions of fresh ginger root, fresh mint leaf, fresh lemon with zest and spruce tips.  Next I layered the ingredients in a sanitized pint mason jar.

Lemon alkalizes the body, contains Vit C, aids digestion, removes toxins and on and on we could go!  Mint is delightfully refreshing, improves oral health, natural stimulant, inhibits release of histamines just to name a few.  Ginger really packs in the flavor as well as offering aid in digestion, nausea, dizziness and is warming and stimulating.  I am just hitting the tip of the iceberg with these herbal aids as they could use full pages on their own.  Invaluable and safe herbs to use.

Now its time to add in the honey.  Preferably organic honey, but you already knew that.

Find a stick or a wooden spoon and mix the honey (1/4 c) and herbs.  Then fill about a cm about the plant material with apple cider vinegar.

The apple cider vinegar extracts some of the plant constituents in the infusing period.   There are many benefits to apple cider vinegar of which you can find here.  It is part of my health regime to include it daily.   And this is a much more pleasurable way to do so!

After you are done mixing together; cover, label (ingredients and date) and let steep for 2-4 weeks in cool, shaded area.

When infused to your liking, strain liquid into a sanitized glass container and you can use your oxymel however you please.  My favorite way is to mix with sparking water.  Feels like a complete guilt-free indulgence.  I typically do a 1/6 ratio, but it just depends on how strong you want it.


Spruce Tip Oxymel Recipe:

  1. Equal parts lemon slices (add lemon zest), spruce tips, fresh ginger, fresh mint
    • layer in sterilized jar
  2. Add 1-4 to 1/3 organic honey
    • mash together with stick or wooden spoon
  3. Fill with apple cider vinegar about 1 cm about herbs
    • mix a little more
  4. Cover, label, let steep for 2-4 weeks in dark, cool area
    • shaking intermittently
  5. Strain out liquid and store in sanitized jar with lid (I store in refrigerator)
  6. If wanting to make a “healthy pop” or  “herbal tonic” then add 1/6 ratio oxymel to a pint of sparkling water

I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I have.  Cheers to spring!


~ All information contained within this blog is intended to educate, entertain and inspire only. If you have any specific health concerns, please visit your local herbalist or healthcare provider for the appropriate guidance and support ~




It was a great honor to witness the gathering of thousands of people June 6th, 2015 as a means to raise awareness of tar sands pipelines in America. One of the goals being to call out for the cancellation of the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline that would travel near some of the state’s pristine waters.

I heard about the march from my friend Keya on behalf of the Indigenous Environmental Network.  And yes, I drove to this March which is contradictory but I am meeting myself where I am at and making incremental changes in my life to be less dependent.  Myself and I’m sure thousands of others are seeking change, seeking a sustainable alternative that protects the land and honors life in its many forms.

The gathering began near the Mississippi River Sunday morning, starting off with a prayer ceremony for the water and ending with prayer at the St. Paul State Capitol.  It was not only a gathering with the human race in mind but everything that perpetuates life; the animals, the water, the plants and mother earth.

It was reassuring to see the people walk peacefully in prayer and protest.  All ages and nationalities uniting with future generations in mind.  To learn more about the TarSands Pipeline and the potential impacts on the environment visit tarsandsresistance.org and read the Star Tribune Article click here.

This post is part of my foraging blog as I am indeed foraging for life and this is a gathering which supports it.  May more and more people continue to work together to bring about balance, restoration and harmony with this planet, our home.


“Activists from across the Midwest were joined by environmental leaders such as 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, Sierra Club President Aaron Mair, Ojibwe “water walker” Sharon Day and Indigenous Environmental Network Director Tom Goldtooth in protesting tar sands, an unconventional and carbon-intensive fuel that’s found largely in the Athabasca region of Alberta, Canada. About 5,000 people attended the march, according to the Sierra Club’s Mark Westlund — making it the largest anti-tar sands march the Midwest has ever seen.

The main goal of the protest was to emphasize that the conversation about tar sands and fossil fuels was about more than just the Keystone XL pipeline, McKibben said on a press call in the leadup to the march.

That “Keystonization” means that Americans have started to protest multiple pipeline construction and expansion projects, including Alberta Clipper. Pipeline company Enbridge is in the process of increasing capacity of Alberta Clipper, which carries tar sands from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, from 450,000 to 570,000 barrels per day, with the ultimate goal of increase the pipeline’s capacity to 880,000 bpd — more than the capacity of Keystone XL.” (Katy Valentine)

The photos below speak more than words can say.  It is my intention to be a mirror, to inspire and build a sense of community around our common desires for a healthy planet.  Much gratitude for the hearts behind this good work.






After a long winter, our bodies can become a bit sluggish.  Come spring time we are graced with bountiful edible plants that are perfect for cleansing our system and getting our lymph moving.  All the herbs in this salad grow abundantly in Minnesota and are packed with nutrients and life force.

Introducing our lovely friend, Violet.  Her leaves are heart shaped, her flowers bloom for weeks as she shares with us her many gifts.  She is cooling & moistening with demulcent properties.  Violet contains vitamin A and C along with other antioxidants.  She is rich in minerals and vitamins and helps to restore lost nutrients after the winter months.

Parts Used:  leaves & flowers


Violet can be found everywhere if one has it in thier radar.  I see it in the woods, in yards, near the river.  It is an adorable plant if I may say so, bringing lots of joy by it just being there with its constant flowers and heart shaped leaves.  Spring loves us!Violet

“Firstly violet is a wonderful herb for awakening the lymphatic system which functions, in simplistic terms, as a kind of waste disposal and treatment facility for the body tissues. It carries the lymph fluid that originates from blood plasma through a series of ducts and nodes which are also primary sites for immune activity. Lymph nodes become swollen when overloaded which we notice as hard or raised glands. Conditions such as sinusitis, ear problems and breast tenderness are all connected to under functioning lymphatics. The lymph tends to become quite sluggish over the winter months due to the fact that we move less, eat more and the cold contracts our vessels and thickens fluids. Spring is the most wonderful time to give your lymphatic system some love by moving your body, breathing deeply and enjoying spring greens like violets and cleavers. The lymphatic system has no pump of its own so is reliant on the movement of the muscles, the blood circulation and the breath to assist it around the body. It is in this relationship of fluids and movement that I see violet’s qualities coming to the fore.”  (Lucinda Warner of Whispering Earth)


Next up is my dear friend, Dandelion.  The bitter greens of dandelion are loaded with iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins and a rich assortment of trace minerals.  Half the world loves it, uses it for medicine and eats it, the other half wages war on it with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.  Dandelion is a diuretic, hepatonic (good for the liver), detoxifying, nutritive tonic and a bitter herb which aids in digestion.

Parts used: leaves (young and tender is best)

Dandelion reminds me of my father as he uses is on one of his famous Lebanese meals.  Freshly made garlic sauce, garlic marinated chicken & onion kabobs, fresh dandelion greens all wrapped up in flatbread.  Soooo delicious!

Next on the plate is Cleavers.  Be sure to chop it up pretty good as we do not want cleavers to be cleaving to our mouths.   Cleavers are abundant and grow near rivers or other water bodies.

Parts Used:  ariel parts

“As a medicinal herb it is most commonly used to treat the lymphatic system, a network of vessels which runs alongside the blood circulation carrying waste materials in lymph fluid ready for processing in the lymph nodes and organs such as the tonsils, thymus and spleen. The lymph has no pump of its own so is reliant on the movement of blood and muscles to aid its journey, so exercise is vital for a healthy lymphatic system. It’s functions are primarily to aid cleansing of the tissues and assist the immune system by transporting white blood cells and antibodies…The water element also governs the emotions and Cleavers can help us to gently let go of the past and be ready to embrace the new growth and change that Spring awakens” (Whispering Earth)Cleavers

Garlic Mustard is probably one of my favorite spring greens.  It is a noxious weed that can take over an area so do not feel guilty harvesting this one.  I would have never known such deliciousness could be so abundant.  The bulk of the salad was this herb.  It has a fresh garlic taste and is loaded with immune building nutrients, some iron, sulphur and is mildly diuretic.

Parts Used:  leaves
Garlic Mustard

In another salad I made with garlic mustard is sliced olives, chopped cream cheese and herbed olive oil dressing. Simply delicious!Garlic Mustard

I love knowing that I am ingesting plants with life force that is free, abundant, nutritious and mighty tasty!

~ All information contained within this blog is intended to educate, entertain and inspire only. If you have any specific health concerns, please visit your local herbalist or healthcare provider for the appropriate guidance and support ~



Ever taken a bite out of an apple to find a worm in it?  With apple orchard’s that are certified organic, natural precautions must be enacted to ensure worms are not one bite away.  Tanglefoot Red Sphere Traps are what is used on the WEI farm so we can enjoy organic apples pesticide and worm free!  The idea is that the red ball traps the apple maggot flies before they deposit their eggs. The flies are tricked into thinking the traps are apples and once they land they are stuck. Traps should be placed in mid-April, before apple fruiting.

Cleaning the red balls is no easy task, yet WEI creates an event for brave volunteers that you will not want to miss.  This year’s “Red Ball Party” was  quite an enjoyable experience despite the grossness of cleaning the gunk off the balls.  The fellow volunteers were a lot of fun and and WEI invited a chef, Nick Schneider to come and prepare lunch.  Featuring a delicious salad freshly harvested from the hoop house, homemade pizza on woodfire stove and a scrumptious panna cotta with a berry topping. Hmmmm hmmm hmmm.  It was heavenly!  Nick Schneider is a Minneapolis based multifaceted chef who focuses on natural-foods cuisine, based on fresh, local, and seasonally available foods.  Currently, Nick operates a personal chef business and catering business Thrive Chef Works.

Back to business.  The red balls are dipped in Tangletrap, an organic insect trap coating.  When it comes time to clean off the Tangle trap from the red balls, it takes a train of people.  After the balls are gathered, the assembly line is in place and we are ready to start cleaning.  It took about 14 volunteers just around 5 hours to gather and clean the red balls.

  1.  Heat 2 crockpots of vegetable oil
  2. Dip balls in oil
  3. Scraper team takes off first layer of goo and lil bugs
  4. Dip in 2nd crockpot
  5. Paper towel clean the balls til fairly clean
  6. Wash with soap & water in sink for final cleanliness
  7. Leave out to dry for next year

If you are purchasing a WEI CSA this year, you can enjoy eating those apples with a lil extra gratitude as you are now familiar with what it takes to eat organic apples worm free!


In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22nd as World Water Day.  I first heard of World Water Day from the Counsel of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers a couple years ago.  Of course we can celebrate and honor the water every and any day, but why not tune in with thousands of people around the world and honor the one of the things that we all share.  Whether acknowledging water’s place in life individually or in a group, it is all beautiful and potent anytime and in anyway.

The lovely, Keya Hutchinson initiated this 2nd annual World Water Day walk at Minnehaha Falls.  Starting out at the top of the falls with some songs and words, we then made our way to base where we had the honor of Al Baker and his partner Lisa share more songs and prayers.

Following the stream with the heartbeat of the drums radiating out, we reached the Mississippi River where we created a heart mandala of corn, flowers, shells, blueberries and other organic materials.  A time for silence, a time for songs and now its time to get warmed up by the fire as it was very chilly out.   Mysteriously there was already a fire lit with no fire keeper present when approaching the Mississippi and thankfully Kevin volunteered himself to tend the fire until we completed the Mandala.

Not only were we gifted with a warm fire, we were showered with big fluffy frozen crystallized water flakes to add to the radiance of the day.  Thank you Water for your many forms, for filling out all of life, cleansing, nourishing and sustaining us all.  We pray that our gratitude and consciousness continues to deepen and that clean water becomes more and more accessible to everyone around the world.

From the Mystic Mamma blog:

“‘We live in water in our mother’s womb,’ Hopi grandmother Mona Polacca explains. ‘Moments before we come into this world, the water of our mother’s womb gushes out, and we follow behind. That is why the Hopi call water our first foundation of life.’
“It is not coincidence the Grandmothers say, that the Earth has the same percentage of water as the human body does.
“It is also not a coincidence that, as the sacred waters of the planet- Mother Earth’s blood- are becoming dangerously polluted, we are at the same time forgetting our innate connection to the Sacred Universe, the only understanding that will save us.”
“…If we consciously greet the water as we drink and bathe in it, for instance, we begin to have a relationship with water, the Grandmothers say.
“‘We know the Creator can bless us with answers through water,’ Grandmother Mona says. ‘That element can help us with understanding. The more we honor and feel gratitude toward water, the greater the assistance we will receive from it in our lives.’
‘Because of our connection to the elements, we also have the capacity to heal the waters, just as the waters can heal us.’
“The Grandmothers say that quantum physics is proving what indigenous people have known all along, that prayer can change the pollution in the waters. The Grandmothers pray every day for the waters of the Earth to become purified again.” 
~Grandmother Mona Polacca from The International Council of  Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers 






  1. http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/home/en/
  2. http://www.grandmotherscouncil.org/statement-from-the-international-council-of-thirteen-indigenous-grandmothers-for-world-water-day-march-22nd-2014
  3. http://www.mysticmamma.com/world-water-day-march-22-prayer/
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