We are fortunate to work with Jessica Brown and River Walker of Happy Hearts Farm in Humboldt County, California. These small scale market farmers grow an array of vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs on what they refer to as their little slice of heaven, and a slice of heaven it is! We recently completed our summer Tulsi distillation that was grown and harvested by Jess. Below is our conversation with Jess as she takes us on a tour of their farm.
What led you to growing your own food and starting Happy Hearts Farm?
When I moved to this property I saw it's potential. I had never lived anywhere with acreage. I saw an opportunity sitting before us, that if we didn't act upon we would wonder about forever. Our neighbors offered us a little slice of their land 3 years ago, which sparked great interest, ever since that year we've been expanding. This is our 2nd season growing in our main little field plus our neighbors slice and bringing our grown goods to farmer's market. We're excited by the idea of honing in on our skills and becoming more successful and sustainable with each year.
Why organic farming?
Where do I even start?….Because it doesn't make any sense to put poison in yourself in the most basic sense. If you're going to ingest or apply something to your skin it shouldn't be toxic. Sometimes we have pest issues with a crop and you want a quick fix (to spray pesticides or herbicides)- but you need to think about the bigger picture and what those harmful toxins mean for future generations. By implementing sustainable solutions like companion planting, it’s like we are allowing nature tell us what to do. Organic farming means feeding the Earth so it can feed us.
What are some of your favorite herbs/medicinal plants to work with?
I would have to say Mugwort- the way it smells makes everything else fade away! And Tulsi- the aroma feels like deep love. I’m really excited about the Ashwaghanda I recently planted too!
What advice do you have for someone who might want to start growing their own food, whether it be a backyard garden or on a larger scale?
Get curious about where your food comes from. Find out if there is a local farm that you can get seasonal CSA boxes from. Find a garden space to volunteer in, seek out U-pick near you. Get your hands dirty, it is medicine for the soul. A couple of books that have really helped us along the way are "The Market Gardener" by Jean Martin-Fortier. "The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer" by Jeff and Melanie Carpenter.
What does the future hold for Happy Hearts Farm?
Looking for a larger piece of land to do what we love on an expanded level. Also I plan to work more with medicinal herbs and provide my community with fresh medicine.
Humboldt County locals or tourists traveling through can find Happy Hearts produce at the Arcata Farmer's Market on Saturdays 9 am - 2 pm and the Mckinleyville Farmer's Market on Thursdays 3:30 pm - 6:30 pm. They also have one of the most cutest and delicious instagram accounts around! See what Jess and River are up to (and their adorable pet goats) by following them @happyheartsfarm