Herbs – I’ll define them here as plants we consume not for their calories, but instead for their medicinal, nutritional, spiritual and flavorful qualities. We tend to think of herbs as culinary (think: ginger, cilantro and basil) or medicinal (think: chamomile, lemonbalm and st johns wort) – though many herbs easily fall into both categories.
While most of the common culinary herbs are grown domestically in abundance, we import the vast majority of the medicinal herbs we consume in the US. And this number is growing everyday! Plants are the preventative healthcare of choice for most countries in the world and until just a few decades ago, the same was true in the US. There is now a resurgence of public interest in safe and affordable natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Thankfully, there have been many humans, mostly indigenous, keeping the science and craft of herbalism alive – protecting the plants and the knowledge that we so desperately need.
So, why should you support small, regional herb farms?
Herbs tend to lose their aroma and flavor, as well as medicinal qualities, when they are dried and improperly stored for long periods of time. The imported herbs you find in grocery store bulk bins are often grown on an incredibly large scale, harvested mechanically, dried in full sun and then stored in a warehouse for years. Not only can these practices be unsustainable, but they usually result in a very low quality dried herb.
The quality of your medicine is only as good as Your ingredients.
At Among the Oaks Farmstead, and on other small, organic herb farms across the US, we grow our herbs on a human scale. This allows us to put great care into every single plant we grow. We then harvest them at their peak quality and make them available fresh, or we properly dry them in small batches. We promise you will immediately notice the difference in quality!
Our Stewardship Practices
We care very deeply about tending the land in a way that not only conserves it but is truly regenerative. Our stewardship practices include :
- Building soil health through no till, cover cropping, mulching and adding quality compost
- Diversifying our plantings as much as possible with trees, shrubs, perennial herbs, intercropping, etc
- Managing invasive species with care
- Minimizing fossil fuel use by investing in solar energy and being mindful of power usage
- Incorporating animals into our system and managing them mindfully
- Planting and stewarding rare native plants
- Spreading seeds and roots of the plants that we wildcraft