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our polyculture shamba



how we farm

Our farm is wild and diverse! Different varieties of crops are intermixed and trees grow tall throughout which is quite different from the monocultures that are often found across the globe. At Brown's we have much more complexity and plant knowledge. With this, there is much greater resilience and life.


In fact our shamba is over 30 years old which means decades of rich organic matter - including cow dung, leaves and by-products from the factory - is feeding the soil and supporting the plant abundance. The soil is so healthy that we don't need to use any chemicals and when there is a 'problem' we treat the root not the symptom. This is one of the foundational principles of biodynamic farming.


We understand that health of the shamba is directly correlated to our own human health, as Darwin said 'everything in nature is connected'.


what we say about weeds

We believe weeds are just plants in the 'wrong place'. Have you noticed that many of the plants that look like weeds are in fact food or medicinal herbs? Have you ever considered that all plants are helping to bring light into their roots and with this building up the soil itself? We've got lots throughout our shamba and they provide great soil cover too!  Our favourites are Amaranth, Blackjack, Dandelion, Devil's Horsewhip, Dockleaf, Yarrow and Quickweed.



plant wisdom

What does a plant's shape tell you about its value? Quite a lot it turns out! Our ancestors did not have the same access to written information to guide them on which plants to pick to cure dis-eases of the body. Instead they used a plant's visual appearance to determine what its healing properties are. This is known as the 'Doctrine of Signatures' and is still used by many herbalists today. For example, Maidenhair Fern looks like flowing hair and has been used to treat hair problems. Yarrow looks like a serrated knife and is used to heal open wounds. 



Plants will multiply naturally, but to optimise growth and development we've created a nursery at Brown's. Here we take cuttings, transplant and grow seedlings. It is beautiful to watch plants evolve and then when they are mature enough, decide where in the shamba to plant them. It feels important that indigenous medicinal herbs and vegetables are readily available; and we hope that our nursery means that our growing community can also enjoy their wisdom! You’ll find a range of plants for sale when you come to visit us.



seed bank

So much depends on seeds. They are the soul's biodiversity, beyond just food. Seeds are a reminder that we need to go into the darkness to expand again; the endless circle of life. If seeds aren't cared for then we risk losing important genetic diversity that supports life on this planet. Open access to seeds is also important in supporting smallholders to adapt to changing market demands and the changing climate - it increases resilience, one seed at a time.


This is why we're been carefully collecting ancient seeds from across the country. It is our small quest in helping to preserve the diversity and abundance that exists and making seeds more available for you to take home to plant and share more widely. 

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