Cathleen Branon-Keogh loves to dig in the dirt, but the plants she's drawn to are usually the ones most people try to get rid of -- like comfrey, a pervasive herb and burdock, a pesky weed.
Echinacea root and calendula are other favorites of hers to harvest. "They're weeds to them -- and for me they're really valuable skin healing herbs," Branon-Keogh said.
Branon-Keogh dries everything she harvests on her Fairfax farms and other local organic farms and uses it to make personal skin care products for her business -- Healing Earth Vermont Herbals. "Nourishing your immune system by healing in more natural manners rather than suppressing systems you're healing from within," Branon-Keogh said.
Her love of herbal remedies started 18 years ago. "After my first son was born we wanted to start using more natural products," she said. Branon-Keogh apprenticed with an herbalist and made an herbal salve -- to use as a diaper cream and many other things. "We used it as booboo cream, so every bump scrape bruise -- that's what we'd use to heal them -- and it heals amazingly well," she said.
After the salve friends started requesting it for other problems, like eczema, that branched into massage oils, skin creams -- even lip balms. Eventually she started selling products at craft fairs and then turned her all natural remedies into a business. "Plants carry a certain energy. People who work with plants, the energy comes from the person, the plant -- it all mixes together, processed in a positive manner and atmosphere to create a good product," Branon-Keogh said.
Healing Earth sells thousands of products a year all over most of New England. Items range in price from $3 for a lip balm to $13 for insect repellant. Her newest creation is shimmer lip balm made with mica stone. "Hint of shimmer -- touch of color," she said.
There's something for everyone -- and most ailments.
Reporter Gina Bullard: Cathleen, I have a lot of problems. I have eczema, dry skin, cold hands -- what else...?
Most people use steroid creams to treat eczema, but Branon-Keogh says her eczema salve made with bees wax and plant oils can help treat the symptoms naturally. "The peppermint will soothe any itching right on contact -- its cooling and its a topical analgesic," she said. "Derived from the earth. Designed to heal and soothe -- that explains it for us."
Natural remedies, inspired by her surroundings that are Made in Vermont.