by Jade Greene
The 2022 BCFA Summer Farm Tour series concluded with a bang on 8/3 with a tour at Barefoot Botanicals (soon to be named Bluestem Botanicals) in Doylestown. Each summer, BCFA coordinates with three local farms for a farmer-led tour of their farm, welcoming the community to learn about their specific farming practices. Participants enjoy a community potluck followed by the farm tour. Make sure to mark your calendar for next year for the first Wednesday of June, July and August 2023!
Bluestem Botanicals is, like many local farms, an ever-evolving operation trying to survive in today’s challenging world. Farmers Linda and Eric took on a lease at the property in 2008, which had been previously managed as a traditional “golf course” sod farm. They set to work converting the infertile fields into an organic vegetable CSA farm. After tirelessly amending the soil and fixing water issues they decided the CSA model was not right for them. They shifted gears to focus on herb production.
The farm’s focus may have changed but the mission to connect people with plants has not. Farmer Eric explains they work with the serious and the fun side of their plants. They carefully craft the highest quality tinctures, oils, and glycerites (extracts of plant matter in glycerine), which many of their customers use for health purposes (serious side). Starting during the pandemic, they partnered with bartenders to produce monthly cocktail kits with farm-made syrups, bitters, aromatizes (herb-derived perfumes to bring an extra sensory experience to cocktails!), and recipes (fun side). They create tea and spice blends for medicinal and culinary uses as well as growing industrial hemp for CBD products. To make all of their high-quality products, plants are harvested by hand at their peak from the fields and then processed right on the farm in their custom-made industrial kitchen. The processing is handled with care, skill and intuition, prioritizing quality over quantity.
Farmer Eric will be the first to tell you that farming is “cool” and important, but it has major ecological impacts too. That’s why the environment is a focus and priority in all decisions on the farm. Intricately woven into the planning of the farm are many best management practices to regenerate and rewild the land, including:
- Planting rows of grasses and clover in between the crops to avoid bare soil being exposed and prevent erosion
- Planting sections of cover crop to build up soil nutrients
- Using minimal till and organic farming practices
- Intentionally planting deep rooted native grasses, like the bluestem, to sequester carbon
- Strategically enhancing naturally wet area by creating wetland habitat and retention ponds to slow and hold rainwater, recharging the groundwater system rather than letting it run off
- Planting over 3 acres of native trees, shrubs, and warm season grasses as wildlife corridors
The farmers at Bluestem Botanicals build resiliency into each row and corner of the land.
Participants of the farm tour were treated to a blueberry and thyme syrup beverage made by the farmers. They were able to see fields of different crops, including elderberry and hemp. The tour included a stop at the commercial kitchen which included a large drying shed, distillery equipment, tea blender, and hydraulic press. The tour concluded at the Apothecary, an adorable shed turned storefront, featuring many of the final products that the farm crafts. Their products are available on their website, at the Mercantile at Doylestown, and occasionally at the Doylestown Farmers Market.
The clear skill and passion of Farmers Eric and Linda was inspiring to all who attended the tour. Bluestem Botanical’s lessons of resilient flexibility and environmental priority are ones that we believe every farm and person can embrace!