MEET OSHALA FARM
Meet our friends at Oshala Farm, a certified organic regenerative farm that’s home to over 80 varieties of medicinal plants, many of which are used in your favorite Ned blends.
Ned: Can you tell us about your farm and its core values?
Elise: Oshala Farm is CULTIVATING CONSCIOUSNESS on a certified organic farm that uses organic, regenerative and sustainable practices. We offer over 80 varieties of medicinal herbs for the discerning herbalist who wants to buy farm direct and have a connection with who and how their herbs are grown. We take great care in growing your herbs with the health of the planet first in mind. Sustainable, organic regenerative farming starts with caring for our soil. Here at Oshala Farm, we grow more than 80 different herbs. However, sometimes it is what we aren’t growing for sale, that is the most important work we do. Each year we make a conscious decision to leave 30-40% of our cropland fallow. This means we do not plant that land with crops for sale but rather plant with cover crops that provide the soil with protection from erosion, provide nitrogen, break up soil compaction, pull nutrients from deeper within the soil profile and ultimately add large amounts of organic matter into the soil where it contributes to the moisture and nutrient holding capacity of our soils. We consider it an honor to grow quality herbs, grown in harmony with the land for the herbal community.
Ned: A large part of the Oshala team is from Michoacán, Mexico. What is the significance of being a bilingual, multi-cultural team?
Elise: Having a multicultural and bilingual team is a constant reminder that our actions are louder than our words. Although we all come from different walks of life and backgrounds, we all want to feel respected, listened to and valued, which is what we strive for on our farm for all our staff members.
Ned: Mexico has a strong cultural tradition of plant medicine. What is plant medicine and what can we learn about it from people that come from this cultural legacy?
Elise: It is interesting to me because many times I hear from our team members that their grandparents used that plant as medicine but they thought it was an old way of thinking, but now that they work on the farm and see so many people working with plants as medicine that they realize their grandparents knew a lot more than they realized!
Ned: What’s something you wish more people knew about regenerative agriculture? How can people better support small farms and regenerative agriculture?
Elise: Regenerative agriculture is becoming quite the buzz word in the industry. Big chemical companies such as Monsanto and friends are also using regenerative farming as their practices because they don’t till. So make sure you look for ORGANIC regenerative practices, otherwise you might be supporting chemical farming and not realizing it.
Ned: Can you share any great books, podcasts, documentaries, etc. that inspired your work in regenerative agriculture and/or plant medicine?
Elise: Rodale institute website is a great resource for regenerative farming.
Ned: Why do you love working with Ned?
Elise: We’ve loved working with Ned because they are in line with our values. It feels good to know that the plants we spent so much time caring for are going into good hands. We’ve always felt like the hard work we do is respected and that is much appreciated.
Ned: You grow over 80 varieties of medicinal plants. What is your favorite one?
Elise: It’s not possible to say we have a favorite, we love them all! It would be like asking your favorite child.
Ned: Can you tell us about what’s involved in growing the ashwagandha we use in our De-Stress Blend?
Elise: Ashwagandha is grown as an annual crop on our farm. We start the seeds in the propagation house in February. We tend to them two to three times a day until they are transplanted in May. We harvest the roots in the fall when the nutrients are at their peak in the roots, which is the part of the plant that is used for your blend. We then dry it and mill it on our farm.
Ned: Can you tell us more about the oat straw we use in our Sleep Blend?
Elise: The beautiful thing about Oatstraw is that it is also grown as a cover crop that builds organic matter in our soil that increases our water and nutrients holding capacities in the soil.
Ned: Can you tell us about what’s involved in growing the nettle we use in our Balance Blend?
Elise: Nettle is grown as a perennial crop which means that we have it in the same field for years. This allows us long periods of time where we can leave our soil undisturbed. Oftentimes our perennial crops are in place for five or more years, and in most years 30-50% of all our crop acreage is already established in multi-year plantings. By purposely choosing a wide variety of perennial and biennial crops we reduce the impact we have on soil life, leaving the worms, insects, mycelium and microbiological life undisturbed for long periods of time. This creates healthier soil ecosystems and ultimately healthy plants, which eventually benefits all of us.
Ned: Can you tell us about what’s involved in growing the astragalus we use in our Immunity Blend?
Elise: Astragalus is a root crop that is in the legume family. We grow it annually and harvest the roots with their peak medicinal value in the Fall. It’s milled on the farm and is a favorite to add into soup and bean dishes to keep us healthy throughout the harvest season and through the Winter.