How To Start Your Own Small Farm Anywhere In The World & Grow Your Own Herbs, Plant Medicines, Oils, Tinctures, Teas & More With Brad Krass & Doug Wolkon.

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Imagine the lush landscape of Hawaii — the brilliant green foliage, the vibrant flowers, the fragrant herbs and plants — being transferred into your backyard or the parcel of land you've purchased.

In today's episode, I welcome Brad Krass and Doug Wolkon (a repeat guest on the show) who are experts in creating thriving, bountiful farms using only two or three acres of land. 

If you aren't familiar with my previous podcasts featuring Doug Wolkon of Kauai Farmacy (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%), I first discovered him through my friend Laird Hamilton when he brought me to Doug's fabulous farm in Kauai. He was growing a vast array of superfoods and extracting and making tinctures, oils, powders, and all sorts of different compounds from his small farm, using fascinating tactics. Since then, I've been a huge fan of Kauai Farmacy. I use their teas, salves, lotions, dried cacao beans, and all sorts of crazy superfoods that show up at my house from the islands every few months or so from Doug.

Doug ended up training Brad (also featured in today's show) who lives very close to me. Brad took all of Doug's concepts and did the same thing in Sandpoint, Idaho, about an hour from my house. Brad's farm, New Flower (use code BEN to save 10%), is a permaculture-based herb farm that promotes a wellness lifestyle culture through natural farming practices and a nourishing herbal apothecary with high-quality herbal products.

Learning how to farm in Hawaii and then reapplying it to a different area of the world is such an interesting concept that I knew I had to get this duo on the show together. By the end of today's episode, you'll walk away knowing more about all things farming, gardening, permaculture, and how to grow food anywhere using the cool concepts that Doug and Brad have implemented.

For more information on plant medicine and farming, check out my other two interviews with Doug:

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-Who are Doug Wolkon and Brad Krass?…05:38

-How did Brad and Doug meet?…07:46

  • Brad and Doug met in Kauai
  • Kauai is a mecca for gardening and farming gurus
  • Doug has four acres of medicinal plants
  • Brad spent 2 years reimagining and reestablishing the place
    • New structures, new systems, new soil-building techniques
    • Also training and passing down his knowledge

-What is permaculture?…09:31

  • Permaculture is a design system centered around gardening
  • Incorporates a bigger picture of appropriate technologies
  • Idaho is the third climate Brad has done permaculture in
    • The first one was in a cold climate
    • A learning curve because of the weather
  • Growing stuff that is not grown on the mainland or in North America
    • Tulsi, an East Indian tropical herb, is now grown in Idaho
  • Within permaculture, you can create your own ecosystems
  • The idea of permaculture is less footsteps, more sustainability, more efficiency
  • The use of greenhouses
  • Permaculture technologies to grow stuff outside of certain climate zones
  • The Permaculture Laboratory – Regenerative permaculture farming strategies and theories that have been studied, discussed and taught for decades
    • Rarely put into practice, full production, or proven with such efficiency, diversity and sustainability

-How do you establish the soil?…13:14

  • Establish the foundation, which is the soil life
  • Brad practices natural farming and everything on his farm is a closed-loop
    • Produce everything they use to nourish their gardens right on-site
  • Soil biology
    • Taking cultures of indigenous microorganisms
  • Industrial farming is adding fertilizers
    • Degrading the life of the soil in the long term
  • Microorganisms are found in healthy forest environments
    • They are fed with potato
    • The starch will rapidly multiply the microbes
  • Potatoes are cooked and blended into a slurry
  • JADAM Microbial Solution — heated and un-heated method of culturing microbes
  • You collect where the leaves are breaking down into soil

-What is the strategy of layering with groundcovers, shrubs, and canopies?…18:02

  • Microbes do the bulk of the work
  • Adding nitrogen sources from the excess plant material
  • All the parts of the plant that were not used get composted and added back
  • Nitrogen fixers — bean plants
  • Looking to layer the ground in the most efficient way
    • Shrubs, knee-high shrubs, ankle-high shrubs, hip-high shrubs, chest-high shrubs, trees
  • Permaculture is mimicking nature and its layers
  • Finding plants that are going to be beneficial to your garden
    • That will occupy all of these layers
    • To achieve the most photosynthesis all at the same time in the garden
  • Growing strawberries as an example
    • Strawberries would be the ground cover — low-growing plant
  • The ground covering has the goal of holding the space to prevent weeds from growing
  • The challenge is to keep the weeds out
  • Whatever is growing is intentional

-What are the different types of fertilizers?…24:45

  • Liquid fertilizers — crop residue that's composted down and made into a fertilizer
  • The rest of the tomato vine after you've harvested the tomato
  • Collecting the grass to feed the worms in the worm composting system
  • Worms create compost
  • Another fertilizer is coconut husks
    • Using a flail mower — a big grinder — to collect the husks
    • The coconut husk goes to the soil nurseries and also as the base for the whole garden
  • Golden compost from worm poop is taken and made into a tea and then fed to the plants
  • Cultivating the worms in the soil to get exponential fertilizer layering

-How do you ward off pests without toxic chemicals?…28:45

  • Microbes cultivated in the soil give the plants resilience — minimize plant pests and diseases
  • The importance of soil health for pest control
  • Make tea out of certain plants that are really unattractive to pests
    • Applying the tea to infected areas of the plant to ward off bugs

-What are the best herbal medicine plants?…29:54

  • New Flower and Kauai Farmacy grow herbal medicine plants
  • The herbal medicine plants can be used as a foundation to grow, like tomatoes and cucumbers
    • Growing food as medicine
  • The foundation is growing antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic plants
    • Tea tree
    • Tulsi
    • Lemongrass
    • Plants that turn away aphids and pests
  • That same immune system gets translated into medicine
  • The herbal medicine foundation is an answer for the future sustainability of small boutique farming
  • If pests come in, they bump into the cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, and they are out of there
  • This can translate to medicine

-What type of water should you use?…35:27

  • Water is a huge factor
  • Water is paramount to successful gardening
  • Permaculture looks at the landscape and uses water to its advantage
  • Creating swales and things to hold water in place and move it through the farm in a healthy way
  • Water filtration is essential when the water supplied is chlorinated, like city or municipal water
  • Natural water is ideal
  • Ben has a rainwater catchment system on the roof of the house he's building in Idaho

-Where should you start as far as plant selection?…38:43

  • Figure out what you want to use
    • What would you like to eat?
    • What is it that you like to drink?
  • Plant medicines, like mint, sage, and rosemary are so simple, easy, and efficient to grow
    • In Hawaii, it's called Mālama ʻĀina — caring for the land as it cares for you
  • All sorts of herbs can be grown annually
  • Mint and lemon balm to be used as tea
  • Providing the best seeds
  • Herbal medicine is kind of a lost art in the West
  • Getting it from a reliable source with transparency
  • Ben uses a lot of the blends from Kauai Farmacy (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)
  • Tulsi is an exceptional herb, often called the “Elixir of Life”
    • Rejuvenating tonic that relaxes the nervous system and helps the body adapt to stress
    • The first plant that Doug put in the ground on his farm
  • Ashwagandha – the calm energy plant
    • It takes nine months to grow the Ashwagandha root
    • Known as the ginseng of Ayurvedic medicine
  • Ben is a fan of Ashwagandha and adaptogens
  • Four Sigmatic Coffee — adaptogenic coffee blend
    • Has Lion's Mane and Chaga
  • Tulsi is a daily adaptogen, Ashwagandha is a more advanced root
  • New Flower has tulsi balm (use code BEN for save 10%)
  • Kauai Farmacy has tulsi serum, tincture, and hydrosol (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)

-Training to help you get started?…52:01 

  • New Flower (use code BEN for save 10%)
  • Kauai Farmacy (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)
  • Kauai Farmacy YouTube channel
  • There's so much information on the plants
  • The symbiotic relationship between people and plants

-What products should people try?…56:59

  • Herbal CSA (community-shared agriculture) packages
    • Packages of herbs and skin care products are put together each month
    • Fresh and high-quality products
  • Packages change throughout the year, depending on the season
  • The Added-Value preservation model allows for flexible Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Farm Share ownership programs that are financially sustainable and economically competitive to support the future of small farming, health, & nutrition of local communities
  • Herbal teas are delicious
  • Extracts and tinctures
  • Spagyric extracts — stronger than tinctures
  • Men's vitality blend
  • Ben tasted Doug's cacao beans — like cocoa nibs on steroids (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)
    • The beans are the seeds for the trees — full spectrum superfood
    • Rich in magnesium and manganese
    • It's got fat, protein, and carbohydrates
  • Kauai Farmacy is open to visitors — Doug does tours
    • Open 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    • Has a farmer's market on Saturday mornings
  • Brad has been farming for four years in Idaho
  • Freshness and preservation quality are the key
  • The tea you drink from Kauai Farmacy or New Flower may be a week out of the garden — very fresh
  • The Boutique Farming Lifestyle – Hyper-intentional, vertically integrated mission allows the owners, farmers and local community members to connect with the land in a mutually nourishing way, all the while healing themselves and each other.
    • The culture within this small farm model embodies a conscious healing workplace, economy and environment

-And much more…

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

– Brad Krass:

– Doug Wolkon:

– Podcasts:

– Other Resources:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Brad Krass, Doug Wolkon, or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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One thought on “How To Start Your Own Small Farm Anywhere In The World & Grow Your Own Herbs, Plant Medicines, Oils, Tinctures, Teas & More With Brad Krass & Doug Wolkon.

  1. Bob says:

    This is a fun podcast. It’s interesting because it’s something that I am not interested in IE farming But the guys were just so pleasant informative and interesting… It was a great hour.

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