by Pat Collins

September 2020

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Growing Herbs and the Alchemy of Slow

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I’m the proud farmer of 25 acres of coastal hinterland on Yaegl country, located in the beautiful Clarence Valley on North Coast NSW.

When asked to contribute to this newsletter, my first thought went directly to the herbal medicine part of our farm.  I wondered how I would be able to communicate my love of the land? How do I communicate the pure joy of learning (I’m also a student of WHM) alongside the plants, living the privilege of how they ignite my sense of smell, taste and touch, beyond the textbook of active constituents and contra-indications.

It came to me that the best place to begin is to share my favourite Permaculture Principle which is ‘Small, Slow Solutions’. In this principle, we learn small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes. This principle works on the basis that less is more and looks at how we influence our ecology, business and even personal selves in a manner that is functional and supportive of all the elements surrounding it.

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When transitioning Solum Farm from small market veggie gardens to growing medicinal herbs I just knew I had to apply this principle first and foremost. As I dove further into a relationship with each herb I planted and listened to their needs (physical and energetic), I was urged to GO SLOW. Irony wasn’t lost on me when, as I learnt about the plants and their actions, I realised I had planted a garden of nervines! Of course, I was being urged to go slow! We build the soil rich in nutrients at a pace in which the ecology flourishes. We plant and work on the moon cycle and harvest, compost, grow and seed as she flows. Our soil is rich in biology which delights in exchanging sugars with the plants in their symbiotic relating.

My enquiring mind wonders at how the Alchemy of Slow transitions into client care. I’ve a million questions around the way in which herbs are grown and how this affects their active constituents and in turn efficacy. I have so many ideas for research projects and hopes for expansion of the herbs and apothecary on the farm. 

For now, though, I’m taking it slowly building resilience in self and soil, nutrients and energy so as to transfer these qualities into the medicine grown. It’s a pretty exciting future and I am so grateful to be a part of EL in this experience-rich ecology. 

Visits are most welcome ☺ Cheryl, Solum Botanics (Solum Farm). Mororo NSW.   

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