• Birds, Bees, and Butterflies: Pollinators tend to thrive in healthy environments. Natural farms and gardens are common amongst locals, as many feel it is healthier for their wellness and nature.
  • Generational Remedies: Many elders in Pembroke Township carry with them knowledge of non-traditional forms of healing. As they are passed down through generations, these practices become less common.


An Introduction

Violet is a Kentucky native who relocated to Pembroke after falling in love in 1978. She is known throughout the community for her warm smile and welcoming demeanor. Since she was a little girl, she always dreamed of living on a farm. Small town comforts like knowing your neighbors and watching families grow are very important to her. Over the years she has served the community in many different ways. Running a grocery store, farming, and driving a school bus for over 15 years are just a few of her contributions. She currently works part time as a clerical assistant at the local elementary school, and maintains flowers and a garden at home in her spare time. At 75 years old, she still continues to use herbal remedies she learned during her childhood. Violet is a wealth of knowledge, and has many tips for maintaining wellness using natural ingredients.


Birds, Bees, and Butterflies

When you step onto Violet’s property, you can hear it teeming with life. Clusters of bees and butterflies crowd around the different flowers lining her fence. Hummingbirds frequent the trumpet vines she planted on the sides of her home. She enjoys sitting outside and watching finches, cardinals, and jaybirds dance around her yard. They are drawn to the seeds of pink coneflowers, which she keeps as a special treat for them. Violet attributes much of the health of her property and garden to keeping it free of chemicals. She believes this is also important for her personal health.

Although she occasionally buys vegetables from other farmers in the community, most of the vegetables and meats she eats are from her own farm. Her favorite vegetables to grow in are crowder peas, shelly beans, purple hull peas, butter beans, and lima beans. Her husband also grows vegetables, and is a well-known butcher in Pembroke. In Kentucky, she remembers how people used potato and onion sacs to dry out their peas save them for the winter. When spring came, they used the remainder as seed to plant the next season’s crops. This technique has been quite useful for her over the years.


Generational Remedies

“My grandmother…she didn’t take medicine she only dealt with herbs… If you got a sore or something she would go outside and pull something up in the yard and wet it or steep it or whatever and put it on you.”

Violet holds the tradition of natural remedies dear to her. She adopted many of her recipes from her grandmother, who did not believe in using medicine. Others she picked up from friends and family back home in the South. Even when given the option to use medication, she was taught to also do for herself if possible. Some of the common wild herbs she uses include mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) for inflammation and milkweed (species unknown) for bug bites. She also will occasionally brew tea using red clover (Trifolium pretense) and wild sage.

In her experience, many people in younger generations seem disinterested in learning about herbal medicines. Thankfully, she has been able to share many recipes with her own granddaughter, whom she helped raise. Together they make a variety of cough syrups using wild plants and household products. Peppermint and whiskey/bourbon cough syrup is one of her old southern favorites. She recounts her family members taking half of a bottle of whiskey and filling it up to the top with crushed peppermint candy. They would prepare it between late fall and early fall so that it can be strong and ready for the cold winter months. As it marinates it forms a thick pink syrup, and is stored in the refrigerator all season. Another classic recipe she inherited uses lemon wedges and onion slices. Together on a baking sheet they are cooked in the oven until their form into a syrup. For a quick fix, she recommends putting a half of onion on the outer sides of your throat and tying it down with a scarf. According to her, it will be gone before the next day has ended!

Violet feels that natural healing practices are very important for her life. The knowledge of medicinal plants she has acquired over the years from friends, family, and personal research gives her a sense of independence. She does not have to rely on drugstore to make her feel better, as she can step outside and harvest what she needs on her own. The sense of freedom she feels when she sits on her front porch is also important for her mental health. When she is outside enjoying nature, she feels a sense of perfect peace.


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