By LeRae Haynes –
Some of the locally-produced treasures available at the Williams Lake Medieval Market on November 24 and 25 are four beautiful teas grown, harvested, and made by Callie Borkowski at New Paradigm Teas.
Borkowski wild-crafts four blends of fragrant teas: Anise Petal, Orange Balm, Mighty Mint, and Lemon Bliss.
She became interested in making teas about 14 years ago while living in India. “I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and the chaos and decided it was time for a change. I emailed my mentor, herbalist and homeopath Crystal Slevin. I asked if I could come to her property when I got back and help her with her herbal business.
“I started picking her flowers and blending her teas. I fell in love with her son and have lived here ever since,” she said, adding that for the past eight years she has been making her own teas.
The property is 16 km from Horsefly at a place called Goose Lake.
Borkowski seeds plants in the spring and winters them with care. She grows some in her greenhouse and picks some from the wild when they’re in season and in their perfect potential for being tasty and full of nutrition.
The teas are harvested, dried, blended, and packaged in whole leaf form.“I like showing people that they can have something nutritious that is truly local,” she explained.
In the past few years she’s created better packaging, recycling natural craft paper lined with compostable film. “The labels are printed on bio stone—it’s all compostable,” said Borkowski.
“My main venue for selling is the Medieval Market. I love it there: love selling direct to people and explaining what’s in the teas and how they’re made.”
She will also meet customers in town to deliver the teas.
The beliefs she holds dear are reflected in her teas and encompass the planet-friendly, off-grid, healthy lifestyle she shares with her partner, Jeremy, and their children.
“Jeremy has lived like this all his life,” she said. “We are in the process of getting a solar system and for now have a generator when we need it,” she said.“Our water is heated through a water coil in our wood cook stove.”
The family has a large garden and grows as much food as possible. They raise their own meat birds, pigs, and sheep, doing their own humane slaughtering and butchering, and they have laying hens.
“Our animals have a humane life and a humane end,” she added.“I feel very good about that.”
The family includes two daughters, ten and six years old, who are homeschooled. They are involved with the day-to-day running of the household and animal operations.
She said Jeremy works a mill on the property—a home-based business.
“I see our girls developing great life skills, including the ability to observe and be with nature in a respectful way and be in tune with the rhythms and cycles of the seasons and of the Earth,” she said.
“They get to see their impact on the environment a lot more, just by being in it and interacting with it on a daily basis.”
She said the decision to homeschool was a natural one. “I always knew I wanted to do it; I wanted to give them a different experience in their younger years. There may come a day when they want to try something else in the future, but for now this is good for us,” she said.
“There are days when it’s a challenge but overall it feels good.” She explained that they recently became part of the Distance Education program through School District #27, adding that they’re enjoying the field trips and interactions.
While her girls enjoy helping with the teas, they also love to play. Sometimes they ride bikes and sometimes they make up games in the forest.
“They’re getting good at identifying edible and non-edible plants in the woods, and they love eating wild foods like nettles, fiddleheads, and mushrooms. This has fulfilled part of their science curriculum,” she said. “This education is very self directed—they’re so naturally curious and ask questions all the time.”
Instead of screen time they’re getting imaginative play time. “They have very limited screen time. We teach them about the impact it has on our brains.
“We want this lifestyle to help them develop great life skills, such as problem solving. They see me take apart my propane fridge to fix it, adjust a smoking chimney, fix the pump when it quits—there’s constant maintenance and they’re a part of it all,” she explained.
“They work hard to get firewood in, growing, harvesting, and canning and fermenting food. They both like cooking, baking, and chopping veggies. They’re learning now to feed themselves responsibly with a true love for the planet,” she said. “It’s sometimes hard work, and there are struggles, but it’s worth it. We’ve made this choice to teach our children self-responsibility and to promote awareness.”
She said she’s looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new customers at the Medieval Market, adding that when she puts a package of her tea in people’s hands it is very meaningful.
“I love helping connect people with things from their local environment,” she said. Foods and plants that grow around us are the things our bodies need most.”
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of music with kids.