17 Aug Sharing Permaculture, Selling Herbs
One of our primary goals at ifarm is to share a farm-based educational experience with children (see our Sheep, Frogs, Flowers and Fun Program) and adults. We want our gardens to educate people about the value of permaculture as a different path from modern farming. Mainstream farming methods today destroy the health of the soil with monoculture crops, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Our gardens are an important part of this experience, but they also support themselves.
We grow herbs for wholesale because it is a market where quality and work done by hand is highly valued. Quality is important with medicinal herbs taken in large quantities, especially with roots that soak up whatever toxins may be in the soil. We offer the confidence that each of our herbs has been planted and harvested by hand, in small batches, with only organic methods to deal with pests and insects.
ifarm’s permaculture garden became certified organic in 2015, after a three year certification process. The garden is roughly 2 acres and home to over two hundred different crops and tree species, including vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, fruit and nut trees, nursery trees, berries, and flowers.
Why so many different plants?
An important principle of permaculture is companion planting. All our different plants work together to create a garden that is healthier than if we had planted one or two herbs. Along with being crops, some plants bring up
nutrients from deep underground, some fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, and others keep away harmful insects. A forest has complex webs between plants, animals, insects, bacteria, and fungi. Our garden has similar complementary relationships with people, draft horses, sheep and chickens thrown in. The diversity of the garden is a canvas for relationships between different herbs. We have been testing to find the best combinations for our climate.
A new 1-acre field is the next step in our garden development. We will add more hops, nut trees, and a few specific herb varieties grown in bulk. Organic certification is underway, to be completed in another two years. Our bulk herbs will be seeded with the best companion plant strategies from our original garden. The correct combination means we can plant consistently with no tilling and less concern for composting: The plants will work together to deal with those
issues. This should allow a good balance. Our original garden will provide many crops while the new field produces specific herbs in large quantities. Both will feed the soil and our local pollinators, unlike more modern farming methods.