According to Robin Wall Kimmerer, founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, “The Honorable Harvest, a practice both ancient and urgent, applies to every exchange between people and the Earth – Never take the first. Never take the last. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. Take only what you need and leave some for others.”
This “Honorable Harvest” philosophy is how Beth and Stephen Ward have been gardening and wild harvesting their herbs for the products they make and sell locally as co-owners of Maple Hollow Products.
“Whatever I can source locally, I do,” said Beth. “My goal is to keep things as close to home as possible.”
“I love working with plants and gardening,” continued Beth, whose favorite herbs are yarrow, calendula, wild rose, violets, heal all and lavender. “Part of this goes beyond my skin care line. There is a reciprocal relationship we have with nature.”
Beth knows her herbs, not just for their health properties, but how they are best grown – crops that are wild harvested and crops cultivated in gardens.
As she is wild harvesting, she is also managing the land, promoting good stewardship.
“I will manage my wild crops, so I spread seeds,” explained Beth, who promotes continued growth of those crops by doing so.
The plants she puts in her garden areas are better cultivated that way and also aren’t as likely to take over an area of other crops. Indigenous plants over time are over harvested and she’s trying to restore them.
Herbs that she wild harvests include Hawthorne, elderberry flowers, birch, willow, Solomon seal and heal all. Those that she plants in her gardens include calendula, lavender, gotukola, oats, ashwagandha, lemon balm, cornflower, and poppies.
Beth’s interests in herbs started as a young child.
“My affinity for plants began long before Maple Hollow,” explained Beth. “As a child here in Bradford County, I spent my days exploring the fields, creeks, and woods for hours on end. My favorite times were spent alone with my plant identification books, learning about and collecting flowers, roots, and herbs to make creations. While I believe the time in the woods taught me to value plants, family, and creativity, it also established a sacred bond with the earth that guides the mission and vision of our company today.”
When Beth was much younger, she and her cousin decided to try making soap one summer. They experimented, kept experimenting even more and from there things just grew. That’s when she knew she was on her way to creating something really beautiful.
“I wanted to replace everything I used for any of my health and beauty treatments with my own creations,” said Beth. “I don’t want to just make things; I want it to work successfully.”
Beth starts with a recipe and tinkers with it until she gets it right.
“All of our soaps are imbued with the simple goodness of our homegrown and wild-crafted herbs,” said Beth. “They are scented with therapeutic grade essential oils and colored with our own natural plant derived colorants.”
Once she had perfected her soaps, she moved on to make other natural products with her herbs – lotions, herbal infused cleansing oils, serums, balms, deodorants, salves, shampoo and conditioner and bug spray are just a few. But soaps and lotions are her first loves. And lip balms.
“When I make these products I think about the plants I want to honor,” said Beth. “With each soap we spotlight an herb and honor the gifts of health and beauty bestowed upon us by that plant. It’s my hope that people experience the joy of using my products and also feel connected to Mother Nature by doing so.”
Beth is self-taught, but she has also taken numerous herbal courses.
Maple Hollow Products are sold locally in Wysox at Jurnak’s, in Troy at Barnstead Pantry, CopperTree Shop, Cooke’s Pharmacy, The Milky Way, and online at www.deliveredfresh.store.
For more information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or message her on Facebook or Instagram.
“I really didn’t expect to grow this big,” said Beth. “It just feels so surreal. And the people in this community are so awesome and supportive of my products.”
“It was so special on Christmas morning to wonder who was opening something I made,” continued Beth Ward. “It warms my heart.”