Updated: Feb 7
Finally. Spring is here, and I'm literally itching to get my hands in the dirt. And then, without even needing to refer back to my 'farm notes' from last year, I recall the poison that is spring energy and hope, which I always get around this time of year. Poison?? Yes, poison. My eagerness to burst forth, not unlike the seeds and flower buds, provides the false security that spring is here when, in reality, it is not yet safely spring. What am I talking about? I'm talking about starting seeds too early. I'm talking about putting my seedlings outside when it's still going to go down to the 30s at night. I'm talking about all these (ridiculous?) ambitious goals I've been mulling over for the past 3 months. Goals which I will undoubtedly half-ass in my excitement, or quit due to not fully planning. Manic Amy has lofty goals, my friends, and sometimes hope and excitement can end up being deadly- metaphorically speaking. Except for the plants I killed. RIP.
The truth is, I need to pay the bills. Taking the leap out of my profession of 15 years (teaching) has been scary and extremely uncomfortable. And yes, I know starting a business is tough and it will be years before I see a true return. My head knows this, but it does weight on my heart when I can't provide as I'd like to for my kids.
Even though I don't think she needs a pair of Jordans.
So to make ends meet I find myself taking on multiple enterprises, piecing money together here and there to create this patchwork of income until I generate enough business in what I set out to do, which is to work with the community as a clinical herbalist. Right now I officially work as an herbalist at 3 different spaces in Westminster. Until that is fully sustainable (and this hurts my pride to say it) I have also been tutoring, subbing, selling crap on Ebay, working retail, and teaching yoga and workshops. Every week, I do almost each of those things. For those of you with ADHD, you can imagine how challenging keeping track of all that is on an already spastic brain. Also, I caved and went back on meds. Sorry I'm not sorry- wasn't able to carry the load successfully without it- for now.
But...drumroll please...I have another TRUE adventure coming down the pipeline, which I am VERY excited about...
At this point, dear reader, you should be thinking Dang girl! Didn't you just vent about all the random crap you're doing, and how you know you take on too much knowing you will probably fail? And yes, you're right. However, I feel this is the right move for our family, for our farm, and for my profession. I feel called to this new(ish) opportunity, like I was called to herbalism.
Guess I should just get to the point already.
I AM STARTING AN HERB FARM
So...yeah I already kind of claimed I was doing that. And I have been growing medicinals, just not enough to really cultivate and make medicine with, aside from my own personal use. Most of the herbs here are a plant or two of each species with the intent on teaching people about them- not so much harvesting them.
At first I thought I'll just grow what I use with clients the most, which are adaptogenic and nervine-related herbs (stuff for sleep, stress, anxiety...my thang, as it were). I'd like to provide my clients with the herbs I end up ordering for them at the dispensary, and there is something distinctly different when infusing your own energy and intention into the medicine you make for people. Ah, yes, the woo woo is still alive and well here at Wild Woman Medicine, LLC.
But then after scouring The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer by Jeff and Melanie Carpenter, I realized that there is such a need for medicinal herbs grown in the US. We import an incredible amount of herbs, which is dumb when most of the herbs used in western herbalism can be grown right here. On top of that, I have land to grow it on. There's a need for locally grown herbs for both the at-home herbalist (or honestly anyone.making goods which use herbs), as well as dispensaries. Unfortunately for me, there are no true herbal dispensaries within about an hour of me.
When we bought our house I knew I wanted this to be a farm of some sort, but there are all kinds of farms out there these days. I wasn't sure exactly how this was going to look, but I knew I wanted to have some animals, bees, and plants to grow and sell. I'm excited to have more of a focus now, and one which fits seamlessly into my main venture as a clinical herbalist. Things are coming together in my brain- now they just need to come together in real life!
So the plan...this was actually what I was intending to blog about today...but you know me. Always more wordy and tangential than necessary.
*1 acre of fully prepped land to use for growing medicinals
*1 acre (combined) of forest farming herbs throughout our woods
If I do this right (and efficiently) I should be able to, eventually, make some type of profit off of 1 acre of herbs. Luckily, I do not need this to be our family's main source of income, so the pressure is off a bit there. Plus I can work on a smaller scale which will not mentally and physically overwhelm me. It should also be doable without having to hire people.
Right now we (JP and I) are working on scraping off the sod and tilling the clay and rock mixture that is my earth here at the Barefoot Medicine Farm. I assume it will take a few years to really get the soil how I want it to be. It's not an acre yet, but I also realized I don't actually have enough seed to sow that much yet, anyway. So this year will be the test. I'll try my hand at a variety of plants that I either use frequently or that are in demand, and base the rest of my future plans on how well that goes.
I'm also supposed to be looking into grants or grant-writing. This has been on my to-do list for about a month. It's intimidating, so I have been putting it off. The primary goal for grant money is to invest in a greenhouse- a real one. Not that crap I have tied with ropes to the side of my barn.
Aside from this new venture, I'm also doing the same-ole same-ole veggie garden, and started some raised beds. Lumber is insane, so we used what we could find in the woods to create them. So far I am most happy with using cinderblocks. I think if I ever make more raised beds I'm definitely going this route again. I was worried about the cost of filling these beds with soil and compost, but the majority of them have been filled with random dirt piles we found around the property. Probably not the best source for a number of reasons, but it's free. I'll also need to buy some compost since I don't have enough myself to cover all these areas. Reality: I'm not going buy compost and just say screw it.
For now, I'm focusing on starting small and being realistic. This is hard for me. I'm still working on convincing myself that it's OK right now, and that all of these goals will take time to come to fruition- not a year. Not 2 years. Soil takes time to get healthy. Plants take time to grow, much like my business. Neither can be forced or rushed if you want them to flourish.
I won't always be wearing so many hats, but I am blessed that they all fit.