Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Magic Spaces on the Farm: The Herb Garden

The Herb Garden at Glen Valley Organic Farm

Often we think about magic as something unattainable. Yet there's magic in the world around us everyday. Indeed, our gardens contain some of the greatest magic of all, particularly when it comes to healing and maintaining health. A range of herbs and other plants contain various chemicals that can help us in many ways.

Last summer the farm welcomed Barb as our resident herbalist. Barb arrived from her previous farm, Twobie Creek, along with hundreds of her perennials and a small flock of ducks. Coming the Glen Valley Organic Farm allowed Barb to downsize to an appropriate amount of growing space without the overhead cost of a mortgage.

Now established as Glen Valley Herb and Apothecary, Barb began work on reclaiming a herb garden that had previously existed at the south end of the property, right along the entry to the forest -- high above the rest of the farm. The old herb garden had been more or less abandoned for three years prior to Barb's arrival.

After weeks of blackberry and weed removal, the former splendor of the herb garden began to reappear. Along with a newly constructed shed (and duck home), the herb garden is now in full bloom. Barb is doing regular harvests and drying the herbs to add to her apothecary, although the move between farms means many of her perennials are only getting established this season.

In addition to the herb garden itself, Barb has established her lavender bed in a previously-unused (and weedy) flowerbed at the farm's entrance. She also planted rosebushes (which she harvests flowers from to produce Rose Petal Moisturizer) around the yard in front of the Farm House. Barb also has a coldframe that she uses for starting transplants in the spring and overwintering fragile plants.

Barb in front of her apothecary cupboard

Barb's culinary and medicinal herbs, salves and moisturizers are available at some of our farmers market stands throughout the year.

As a herbalist, Barb knows the medicinal qualities of her herbs. But Barb is also a strong advocate for viewing our entire diet as part of our medicinal routine. Many of our regular culinary herbs also have medicinal properties -- as do many of our foods. Eating a diverse and varied diet and being conscious of potential impacts of certain foods is an important part of preventative medicine.

And that's the magic of our gardens. Much of what we need to stay healthy doesn't come from a bottle. Rather, when the garden is our medicine cabinet we can rest a bit more easily that the natural world around us is a therapeutic place.


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