Maggie Pope
is a Medical Herbalist

Practising in
Bridgwater, Somerset

Get in Touch Maggie Pope

October, 2013

Visit to a Herb Farm

Jacqui Apostolides

Jacqui Apostolides

 

This is Jacqui Apostolides after a very successful Open Day at Broad Oak Farm in Essex. As they say from their website:

Broad Oak Herbs is a totally unique company. We currently farm just over an acre that forms part of a 6 acre organic smallholding in the beautiful Essex countryside, our herb farm specialises in growing medicinal herbs very much in harmony with nature. 

Founded in 2010, when Dawn Pooley met local Herbalist Jacqui Apostolides (Fordham). The idea to start a herb farm specialising in medicinal tinctures quickly became a reality as our other partners became involved. This is true pioneering work and the only medicinal herb farm in Essex.

Where possible we use local craftspeople and materials to make anything we need to use on the farm.

Packaging and printing are kept simple and minimal using recyclable materials to reduce our carbon footprint.

Very little electricity  is used in making our products, we use a shredder to process our herbs and this is all done in our lovely open sided barn. The brewing tinctures are stored in our makeshift stockroom and then the tinctures are pressed using a hand pumped hydrolic press. 

We produce the best tinctures we possibly can. Broad Oak Herb tinctures and other herbal products are produced exclusively from fresh herbs grown here, harvested at their peak.

Processing of the herbs is done on site, where they are made into tinctures immediately after being picked, so that nothing is lost. This is done in such a way as to preserve the whole of the life force, resulting in a product which is still biologically active. Potency of a remedy comes from a whole plant extract, which we know makes all the difference. We use naturally fermented organic grain alcohol and vegetable based glycerine for our products.

A selection of Broad Oak tinctures was on display to buy, plus a range of tasters

A selection of Broad Oak tinctures was on display to buy, plus a range of tasters

Growing organically ensures that the plants are free of any traces of herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers. The herbs  are collected in tune with the rythyms of nature on flower and fruit days, according to when nature herself dictates. Moving towards biodynamics and permaculture, our hands-on, tuned in brand of horticulture ensures individual attention to both the plants and the land.

One of the main elements of growing on this land is the concept of working co-creatively with nature.The idea behind this comes from our herbalist Jacqui. Deeply inspired and influenced by the work accomplished at the Findhorn community in Scotland and Perelandra gardens in the USA, Jacqui felt compelled to try this method within Broak Oak Herbs with a view to exploring the opportunities to cooperate directly with what we understand as nature intelligence. For a definition and explanation of nature intelligence, please read Machaella Small Wrights paper athttp://www.perelandra-ltd.com//PDF/PP11_What_is_Nature_Intelligence.pdf 

This means we are on an immense journey with this project, bringing together our vision of working with nature but still using state of the art modern methods to produce very unique tinctures and other medicines.  

Phase one commenced in January 2010, with preparation of part of the field and a planting scheme. The first year crops and harvesting from around the farm produced a small yield of exceptional tinctures in 2010. We have erected a polytunnel, where we plan to experiment growing herbs that may not survive our outdoor climate, such as some auyurvedic herbs. We are trialling sacred basil, and ashwaganda. We have also propagated some White Sage that we are quite excited about.

For the future, we plan to establish Echinacea and to introduce Liquorice beds. But this all takes time.

This is such an exciting venture we believe, for students, herbalists and the general public alike as Broad Oak Herbs will become a great living classroom in which to study and observe herbs.

My colleague and I have been so impressed with the quality of tinctures that we buy from them that we went up to view their project. And we took lots of photos.

Neat herb beds in circles. There's Steve in his kilt...

Neat herb beds in circles. There’s Steve in his kilt…

We were given a comprehensive tour of all the herbs beds. Why they planted in these shapes, why they put what where, etc…

 

Beautiful Echinacea with boots

Beautiful Echinacea with boots

 

 

Golden orange Calendula, ready for picking

Golden orange Calendula flowers, sticky with resin, ready for picking

All [the not so] mod cons. The composting toilet and washing facilities worked fine...

All [the not so] mod cons. The composting toilet and washing facilities worked fine…

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