What is Community Supported Herbalism (CSH)?
“A partnership between growers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of growing are shared”
The Soil Association talking about the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model which this idea is based upon
Sacred Seeds CSH comes to Sussex in 2016
A radical new way of bringing herbs into your daily lives and empowering yourself to know what plants & weeds can aid you while you grow your own home herbal medicine chest.
Sacred seeds herbal project will be sending out quarterly medicinal herb boxes. Each box will contain 6 small batch herbal remedies which could include a seasonal tonic, tea blend, tincture mix & first aid item as well as creams, ointments, herbal goodies for the home or the odd indulgent beauty product. Each product will come with clear information about how to re-create each item yourself at home & how to use it. Plant ID for easily foraged herbs or growing tips & seed packets to help encourage you to expand your own back garden medicine chest. For exact details of what you get in each box, prices and example boxes click here
Annual subscriptions (saving 10%) and single box orders (for yourself or as a gift) available!
Sacred Seeds CSH (Community Supported Herbalism) is based on similar principles to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) models in which customers pay farmers in advance for the produce and regularly receive a share of what is harvested. CSA schemes are similar to some veg box schemes, in that customers have a direct relationship with the farmers of their produce. The most significant difference between a CSA and a veg box scheme is the way in which customers share some of the risks and rewards with the growers, meaning sometimes they receive a smaller share of the harvest and sometimes a larger one dependant on any crop failures or successes of that year. This risk will be eliminated with the herb box scheme as it is not reliant on solely growing the herbs needed. Many herbs will be responsibly wildcrafted and as a last resort to top up the supply then organic bulk herbs can be brought it from other UK suppliers. We have use of an established herb garden in Firle and there is a long term plan to help small herb gardens start up all over the local community to increase resilience and diversity as well as providing continued supply of herbs if some crops fail.
The CSA model provides a sustainable framework for small-scale agriculture which helps local communities become more resilient, not only on an economic level but also in terms of the closer relationships which are forged between people who are directly supporting one another. This is the vision of the fast-growing and inspiring Transition Towns movement. Alice from sacred seeds herbal project also co-hosts the Transition camp inspired by this worldwide movement.
What is our vision?
Our vision is that the kind of empowerment which comes from taking control of our food supply can also be found in relation to our health and wellbeing. Herbal medicine can be used to treat so many common complaints. Instead of taking the trip to see our GP’s for more minor issues we can all learn more about the herbs that grow on our doorsteps and how to use them to treat many common complaints. We can build up our herbal medicine chests and at the same time deepen our relationships with the wonders of nature all around us. Improving soil is a top priority for vibrant nutritious food as well as herbs, and soil degradation is a massive concern today. The herb garden at Wapsbourne manor farm, Wowo Campsite grows every year. The perennials are becoming more established and the crop harvests increasing. Larger annual crops are planted as demand increases for the herb boxes. Alice hopes to start a little nursery to be able to spread the herbal love further and increasing biodiversity with people taking home herbs to plant in their own garden. Alice’s also looks after a herbal allotment in the village of Firle along with other local ladies. Many crops come from there as this garden has been established for several years.
We want to build a more resilient world and this includes localizing herbalism. Challenges that have come up already are issues around actual costs including time taken to grow herbs and then turned into products are much more time consuming that anticipated. An article on factoring in sustainable labour into the sustainable food equation touches on some good points around this topic. Making tea blends uses such large quantities of dried herbs, alot of space is needed for drying the herbs and additional herbs have needed to be bought in to top up this product each time. It is cheaper for us to buy bulk nettles from Bulgaria than to pick and process the abundant harvest ourselves when factoring in the time it takes to pick, dry, blend to finer tea consistency and then to finally packaging. Limited products means limited stock…..making sales trickier as can’t always have a product available for when someone wants one or be able to sell in a shop. The reality of crop failure too, sometimes nature has her own plans and frost or an insect invasion wipes out your harvest. We had bad rust on the vervain crop and a yet unknown reason for a dying rosemary bush this year. It is a learning experience and a chance to let go, and yield to natures will.
It’s time to follow the 16th century herbalist Nicolas Culpeper’s lead and give medicine back to the people!
Where will the herbs be grown?
We have two gardens in Sussex in which we will grow the majority of the produce. We have a herbal allotment in the quaint village of Firle near Lewes and our second, much larger herb garden is based at Wapsbourne manor farm, Wowo campsite, Nr Uckfield.
Additional crop share
Any additional surplus harvests of herbs will be emailed out to those in the box scheme to see if they would like to add them on and make use of the raw product themselves.
We will run weekly volunteer days as a chance for those near by to come along and meet the plants from seed to harvest while doing some weeding and reaping. This exchange can also give you access to a concessions rate for the herb box. Arranged on an individual basis to make sure the exchange seems fair both ways, with options for other types of work exchange open as possibilities. Email me to discuss this option.
Midweek & Weekend Volunteer dates
Subject to change and weather dependant; it is essential you book in ahead of time with Alice so she knows to expect you, please don’t just turn up. Sometimes extra prep or tools must be arranged to make the most of additional helping hands. It is FREE to volunteer but I ask that you contact me first to book, please bring a packed lunch, snacks and drinking water Book now
Separate volunteer days will be planned for the herb garden at Firle. If you would prefer to help out there contact Alice to arrange
Volunteer days run from 10am to 4pm with a 1hr lunch break and chance to ask Alice questions during this break. Please arrive on-time if you plan to come
We hope you’re feeling as inspired as we are about bringing Community Supported Herbalism to Sussex. There was only one other similar project in the UK which is no longer running with another starting up and many more in the USA and Canada. If you’re interested in delving into the world of herbal CSH schemes then take a look at this blog post which contains lots of links to other projects around the world.