Seed Medicine Garden
growing diverse medicinal herbs and heirloom seeds for resilient communities
What we grow :::
BIODIVERSITY: In the soil, plants + pollinators and as much as possible in the following...
MEDICINAL HERBS: mostly from Western herbal traditions. But also herbs from the ancestral lineages of those who tend the farm such as Vietnamese, Scottish and Korean.
FLOWERS: tending beauty as a matter of survival - to feed our beloved pollinators and share needed joy.
HEIRLOOM VEGETABLES: the more rare, interesting, colourful and delicious the better. We have supplied veggies to restaurants and community food boxes in the past and are currently mostly growing for seed to share.
SEEDS: We save as much seed as possible from all our herb, flowers and vegetable crops, adapting them to our bioregion with clay/loam rich soils and an arid, hot summer, with the hope of creating more local seed networks and food security through uncertain futures.
Where we grow :::
Seed Medicine Garden is currently cultivated on a half acre via land share agreement, near Tarangga on Kaurna Country, on the unceded lands of the Kaurna people, to whom we gratefully pay the rent.
Not far from McLaren Vale and located amidst the veritable food bowl of the Fleurieu Peninsula, the farm lies at the base of the Fleurieu Range, surrounded by gumtrees and birdsong, it gratefully receives slightly more needed rainfall than the nearby plains.
Why we grow :::
Who is growing :::
Keitha Thuy Young - a disabled, mixed Vietnamese farmer and folk herbalist, is currently stewarding Seed Medicine Garden and organising the beautiful chaos of tending this diverse space. Read more about Keitha...
The medicine farm was originally started as a market garden by her partner Brett Young before it evolved into its current expression. Brett is still around, creatively helping with farm maintenance while also managing sheep on the same property for regeneratively grazed lamb at www.rangeandrosemary.com
We also have a magic team of diverse, queer and disabled volunteers and our first intern starting this season and dream about growing the team as we're able. Read more about joining the crew...
How we grow :::
While we are not a "certified organic" farm we do practice organic and regenerative principles which prioritise the soil biology and biodiversity needed for healthy environments and the healthiest plants. Thus we feel like our practices are even higher than those required for official certification and we stand by being transparent in sharing as much information as possible about how we grow our vegetables, flowers, seeds and herbs. Especially since our herbal products go on and in your precious bodies.
We do not apply any kind of chemical herbicide, pesticide, fungicide or synthetic fertilisers at the farm.
Our weed removal is all done by hand or mechanically, so no herbicides are needed. We use an electric-powered brushcutter to cut down weeds in the paths and a walk behind tiller to manage grasses around the edges of our fields. At the end of a season we use a flail mower attached to a tractor to "flail mow" crops that have become too large for the brushcutter, which chops up the organic matter and lets it fall on top of the undisturbed soil right there on the bed, acting as a mulch and eventually breaking down back into soil.
The landholders occasionally use 'slasher' a certified organic weedkiller to manage the perimeters of the property, but this is never used directly on our crops.
We do not spray any kind of pesticide or fungicide on our plants.
Because we grow a lot of biodiverse beneficial bug-attracting plants and practice intercropping, we have managed to avoid any catastrophic pests or diseases.
To manage snails and slugs, we do regular hand picking (and treat our chickens!) as well as using certified organic "Protect-Us" mineral iron-based pellets. These only affect slugs and snails by making them lose their appetite once consumed and DO NOT poison dogs, birds, lizards etc like conventional snail pellets do. Then when they break down they simply return iron and minerals to the soil.
To manage other pests, like aphids, we make a tea from tomato leaves and add a drop of liquid soap which not only kills aphids but attracts ladybirds, their natural predator. With each year we observe more and more ladybirds, predatory wasps and hoverflies who help keep all the other pests in balance.
To manage occasional fungal conditions like powdery mildew, we make up a spray of milk and water 40:60, with local biodynamic milk, which works effectively if used preventatively.
For fertilisers, we use local mushroom compost, as well as the occasional composted cow manure.
For our heavy feeding food crops, we add South Australian produced seaweed pellets (Seamungus), locally produced inoculated worm casting pellets (ProPell) as well as Greenfert. All of the raw fertilisers we buy in are certified organic.
For our herb crops, we are finding that as our soil biology improves each year they thrive as they are without needing to add as many soil amendments or organic fertilisers, which is a very fulfilling feeling.
We do regular certified organic seaweed solution sprays on our plants and soil, every 2-4 weeks, especially on our food crops, increasing their nutrient levels, overall vitality and resistance to disease, pests and climate challenges.
We've also used locally made ProGro (from Australia Vermiculture) a fermented, biologically rich liquid fertiliser which provides both microorganisms and organic nutrients to feed and sustain the development of a healthy soil food microbiome, which in turn grows healthier plants and humans!
We love making our own fermented plant teas and aspire to do more, especially from our many nutrient rich medicinal "weeds" who volunteer around the farm.
Presently, over 30% of the farm is perennial crops/beds which were only tilled once 3 years ago, to break ground on what was an old, compacted horse paddock. Since then, the majority of the annual beds haven't been tilled again, only hand-weeded and flail-mowed, until recently when a handful were lightly tilled. Plenty of organic material and biology was added back into the soil afterwards and the bountiful worms were there again just weeks later.
We practiced no-till for 3 years and saw a significant leap in worms (and subsequently all soil life) in that time. But have since realised that hand-weeding wildly overgrown beds at the end of the season is not an effective use of time and energy (particularly being disabled with limited spoons) so have made peace with intermittent, very light tillage on a few select annual beds at the beginning of the season.
All of our plants are mulched with peastraw through summer and watered with drip line irrigation, from an underground onsite bore, to make the most of every drop of our most valuable resource.