The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer, The Ultimate Guide to Producing High-Quality Herbs on a Market Scale
review by Lucia Stout Huebner
If you are interested in any aspect of Medicinal Herb Farming, this is the book for you. It’s well organized, beautifully written, loaded with information, discusses many important environmental issues and most of all inspires the reader.
Preparing his Eagle Scout project, my son was charged with preparing a report that any person could use as a guide to complete the whole project on their own This book does just that for the Medicinal Herb Farmer. But this is more than simply a how-to book. The authors have woven their own story and thoughts about sustainable and organic farming into each chapter so the text is interesting and a pleasure to read. I marked many passages to revisit later and found the text encouraging and realistic.
My neighbor and friend Tish Streeten, who produced the documentary Juliette of the Herbs, stopped over when I had the book out. She is a colleague and friends of Rosemary Gladstar and the Carpenters and said she›d heard many good things already about this book within the herbalist community. We thumbed through the book together and she too was impressed with the wealth of information. On that winter afternoon, the book sparked a great con-versation about the upcoming spring and possibilities of growing herbs.
This book is beautifully organized starting with the excellent foreword by Rosemary Gladstar. The first seventeen chapters cover each aspect of Medicinal Herb farming in detail. For instance in the chapter about “Tools of the Trade” the authors talk about both hand tools and power tools and include re-sources showing where to purchase the best tools. Under “Thinking Like a Business Manager”, they include ideas about how to manage employees, what data is most important to gather and how they used it to make progress. They are generous in sharing names of people they’ve consulted to help them with their planning. Any farmer would find this chapter useful in conducting their business.
The authors tackle every imaginable aspect of medicinal herb farming from the super practical such as how to build an herb drying shed, to broader top-ics such as why we need growers so that wild American Ginseng doesn›t go extinct.
The two column graphic layout of the book is enjoyable to read with clear subheadings. The book is richly illustrated with a wealth of photographs from the Carpenter’s farm. They use many informational graphics and sidebars very effectively to delve more deeply into topics.
The second half of the book includes 50 entries about each of the individual herbs covering Life Cycle, Plant Description, Growing Conditions, Propaga-tion; Planting Considerations; Medicinal Uses; Harvest Specifications and Pricing. There are a few plants missing such as milk thistle and borage that perhaps could be in a second edition.
I always enjoyed getting back to the book because of the Carpenter’s excellent writing. Their enthusiasm for their chosen profession practically jumps off the page, tempered with many helpful hints for avoiding some of the pitfalls they encountered. Many of these tips can be applied to other types of farming. This is a book that would be of interest to all types of farmers, not just herb farmers. While I enjoyed reading the book chapter by chapter, it is also easy to open at any relevant chapter to find specific information.
The only question I’d like to know is how this busy couple found the time to write and produce such a superb book while running a productive and thriv-ing farm. Clearly they are rising stars on the horizon of the farming renaissance.