Kitchen Medicine with the Youth Leaders of Home City Housing, Part 2
By Anna Gilbert-Muhammad, NOFA/Mass Food Access Director

several people squatting down, looking at the grass and weeds, harvesting

Youth wild harvesting nettle and wild violets in Springfield, MA, April 2022.

Nathalie Fischer-Rodríguez, from the People’s Medicine Project, made a return visit to work with the youth from Home City Housing at the Tapley Court Garden in April. During this session, the youth focused on the wild herbs that are growing in the Tapley Garden and they created a simple tea from nettles.

Nettle is a great plant for supplementing iron intake, detoxifying the body, enhancing blood circulation, and helping with joint pain. Nathalie mentioned that many of these herbs grow wild in the Springfield area and she led a demonstration on plant identification in the garden. A few of the youth noticed that the plant really earns its name as “stinging” nettle. Stinging nettle can be found in parts of Africa as well: Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. Nathalie encouraged the youth and staff of Home City Housing to look at the structure of the leaves and the “stingers” on the plant. She also had the youth look for wild violets – those beautiful purple flowered plants that grow everywhere in your garden. Those plants are edible and make a wonderful jam that will be made during the food preservation demonstrations at Home City Housing.

Lead Youth Leader Agnes Frias was excited about finding the budding wild violets. She is excited to be able to make the jam this season at the garden and looks forward to creating other teas and foods with wild violets. The youth leaders were also joined by Jen Salinetti of Woven Roots Farm. She is the farm consultant for the Tapley Court Garden and has assisted the youth involved with the NOFA/Mass Food Access Program with day-long intensives on seedling development, plot construction and working in hoop houses. Jen Salinetti is the Vice President of NOFA/Mass’s Board of Directors, and she co-facilitates the Equity and Inclusion Committee with me.

Stinging nettle, dried and fresh.

The People’s Medicine Project provides free clinics in parts of Springfield, MA and this 3-part educational series was presented as collaboration between Home City Housing and NOFA/Mass.

If you would like more information about the Tapley Court Garden or the youth organic growing sessions, contact Sia. Anna Muhamad, at We welcome support of the NOFA/Mass Food Access program through donations. For more information on the People’s Medicine Project visit