Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Holy Basil!

The first indoor Brick Works farmers market of the season was a bustling one on Saturday. Midst frenzied sales, a woman with bright radiant eyes approached our stand and said: “Oh, you sell Tulsi (holy basil) Tea..”  I told her, that, yes, we actually grew holy basil this year for the first time. It grew profusely, bushing out into a mat of light green topped with purple flowers. We harvested it at peak flower, dried it and bottled some into tulsi tea. The customer was very glad to hear that it was grown without pesticides and is, indeed, certified organic, grown locally on our farm. She was even more pleased to inhale the complex fruity aroma and sense the vital energy in it. “You know what holy basil is?”, she asked knowingly. I knew it principally as an all-round health tonic, widely used in India. Her eyes lit up as she described how holy basil helps us to adapt to toxins, impurities, even background radiation that are around us in our environment. She happily purchased a jar.

When I got home, I looked up holy basil. Holy Basil functions as an adaptogen, enhancing the body's natural response to physical and emotional stress. Adaptogenic herbs help the body function optimally during times of stress.

“An adaptogen is a botanical that greatly improves your body's ability to adapt to stress, whether it's a hectic schedule, heat or cold, noise, high altitudes or any number of other stressors. This elite class of herbs impart strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and improve mental clarity.” – Chris Kilham, Oprah & Friends

In many parts of the non-Western world, adaptogens are used extensively in high-risk, fast-reflex occupations, from athletes to miners to deep sea divers. With the scientific data to back these natural wonders already available and more research under way, it is only a matter of time before adaptogens begin making their mark in North America. Other adaptogens include ashwagandha, eleuthero, maca, panax ginseng, rhodiola rosea, schisandra.

My encounter with this radiant customer made some recent feelings of anger, sadness, resentment and helplessness engendered by outside world events ebb away, replaced by all those qualities Chris Kilham noted - strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and improve mental clarity. The energy of holy basil alone effected this. Home again, tired but relaxed after another market day, I made myself a cup of tulsi tea and doubled down on its uplifting effect.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Garlic Is Planted

True garlic planting weather is here. Grey skies, blustery winds, rain showers ushered in the time to put these babies to bed for the winter. We also planted a few rows of garlic seed to produce spring garlic next year. Just the hay mulch duvet to apply and the eight rows will be snug ahead of the freeze and snow.

Gundi also put her castells and candlesticks to bed this week, planting them out on a grassy bank at the top of the laneway (see picture above). They look happy, perky even, and they gleam in the sunlight. Gundi too is happy, with a sense of closure after having these creations sitting about idly, unsold for too long.

The field greens are mostly plowed under and hay bales have been rolled out to provide mulch and a rest to hard working beds in our top field. We did the same last year to beds in the lower field. A milpa three sisters mix of corn, beans and zucchini was planted into the hay in the spring, and by summer the worm activity and healthy vegetable production were a joy to behold. The hay is now worked right in to the soil, enriching it deeply.

So, it is now down to the two greenhouses to produce the fall greens for the rest of the year, until winter holidays call us away to Cuba. With the easing of farming pressures, now is a good time to get away for a break in the old country. My niece Anna is marrying her Dan in Shrewsbury, so I will get to see family (including my two sisters, three nieces, one nephew, one brother-in-law) again. After a few days solo in Snowdonia, I am also getting together at a north Wales farmhouse to reunite with Neil, Andy, and Jeremy, my Oxford college buddies. Unbelievably, it is now almost forty years since we met at Pot Hall! The two Brick Works markets that I will be away for on November 15 and 22 will be the first misses of the year.