For thousands of years, the herbs we use regularly in the kitchen were also renowned for powerful medicinal properties – the herb garden was the medicine chest. And in North Berwick herbs are being grown to support mental and emotional well being too.
Hidden away in the grounds of North Berwick’s Abbey Nursing Home is a secret herb garden. A secret space where young people and vulnerable adults can talk, mix socially, and gain confidence, as well as learn gardening and business skills, and connect with nature – elements that all support physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
This secret space is Herbspace, a not for profit Community Interest Company run for the benefit of the community in order to create positive social change. It was founded in 2016 by Jane McCormack and Kathy Duncan in recognition that many young people need a safe space to be themselves and escape the sometimes hectic world they live in. Kathy explains; “Our core purpose is to support young people as they grow and find their place in the world. And, the growing of herbs, which are themselves inherently healing, encourages a connection with nature that is often absent in many peoples’ lives.”
Herbspace has created a range of herbal teas and vinegars from herbs grown and foraged for, in and around North Berwick. The teas are made using herbs, then immediately dried and combined to create a range of delicious flavours, including chamomile and lavender, mint and clary sage, mint and lemon balm, elderflower and mint and yarrow. The vinegars are based on apple cider vinegar, well known for its health benefits, in which herbs or berries are infused. The vinegar range includes, elderberry, elderflower, rosehip, hawthorn, sea buckthorn and wild garlic. Some of them are then sweetened to create a more balsamic type flavour.
Herbspace’s products can be found at Archerfield Walled Garden, Steampunk in North Berwick, The Loft in Haddington and The Store in Belhaven. They also regularly attend local markets and community events and all income from selling products is invested back into the business enabling them to continue supporting young people.