Regenerative Agriculture at No.9 Farms | Volunteer Gardener

– We’re in Ashland City
today, visiting No. 9 Farms, where they practice
regenerative farming. And we’re gonna
learn all about it as we visit their herb gardens. Gosh, Stephanie, this vitex
is looking awesome today. It’s really peaking out
for us, just for show! So how would you go
about using the vitex? – Right now we’re using it in
our cut flower arrangements. It’s also an edible blossom. It has a real
peppery taste to it, but as a medicinal herb, it
is used for women’s health. Supporting the production
of progesterone, really. So we use it in a tea
that’s for women’s health. – [Sheri] Can you tell us a
little bit about No. 9 Farms? – Our main focus of our
farm is on the soil. So when we are farming,
we are thinking about what can we do to benefit
the macro and microorganisms that are living in the soil, who are going to help
us grow better plants? So we are basically
trying to copy what naturally occurs in nature. So there are organisms that
we can see like spiders, and lizards, and ants,
and things like that, that are breaking
down organic matter to a place where they can
be absorbed into the soil. And then from there we
have our microorganisms that are breaking
down things even more, and living in a
symbiotic relationship with the roots of the plants, to a point where those
nutrients can be taken up by the plants and
form nutrient-dense
food for you and I. – So what kind of things
do you do to create this? – Okay, so we don’t
have a lot of inputs from outside the farm. All of our inputs
come from here. We’re both putting down
compost that we’ve created all throughout the year. We typically do that in the fall so that the organisms
have a chance to break that compost down while a lot of
things are dormant. We also are constantly mulching. We never wanna leave bare soil. We are laying down
various types of mulch, depending on what
kind of bed it is. And that helps retain
moisture in the soil. It provides food
for the organisms. And it also helps regulate
the temperature of the soil. – Which is important because? – It helps plants
not be stressed out. Any plant that’s stressed
out is gonna be liable to succumb to pest problems. Insects we think
of as the bad guys, really they’re decomposers
and pollinators. So if they feel like a
plant is stressed out, then they come to
decompose it for us. And so we want to keep
our plants really healthy and not stress out. – Let’s go on and
see what other herbs we have up here. Stephanie, the
basil looks great. It smells yummy, also. What kind of basil is this? – This is Sweet Genevieve basil. – And so tell me a little bit
about how you keep production strong on basil? – [Stephanie] Well this is
our second planting of basil. So our first planting,
that happened in May after that late freeze, is
in the garden by our peppers. And then this is our
second planting of basil. So we do successions
throughout the season of basil, so that we also have really
good, beautiful leaves going. – [Sheri] Will you do one
more before frost, or no? – [Stephanie] Absolutely, yes. – Okay, well I’m
familiar with this basil. But there’s something
up here that I’m not. So I would like you to
explain it to me, please. – Okay. – What is this, it’s beautiful! – So this is called red shiso– – Shiso?
– Shiso. – Okay.
– Mm-hm. Sometimes referred
to as purple shiso. It is a Japanese culinary herb. So they’re using it
typically fresh in their Japanese dishes,
similarly to how we would cut basil on top of dishes. – [Sheri] Did you
start growing this for one restaurant
in particular? ‘Cause I know you supply several
restaurants in Nashville. – Probably the main inspiration for us growing it
was Two Ten Jack. We work very closely with them. Jess and Trey are
wonderful people, and we actually just had
a farm dinner with them here at the farm this week. For me, growing flavorful herbs is about the nutrient content. And the chefs do care
about that as well. But for them, the
flavor is so much better when you’re getting it local. – And it looks so
pretty on the plate. – Yeah, it does. – [Sheri] Stephanie, I grew
this plant several years ago, but I cannot remember
what it’s called. What is it? – This is called
Toothache Plant. – And so, medicinal then? – It is! It was used by
ancient civilizations when they were doing
oral procedures. It’s numbing to the mouth. – And so, that’s the flower,
the leaf that they would use? – The flower, typically. You can use both but
the flower is strong. – If I remember right, as the
flower matures it opens up and it looks like
a decayed molar or something like that, right? (Stephanie giggles) – Yeah, it does look
pretty terrible when it’s, (laughs) right when it’s. – Well it looks great here, and then we’ve got
some catnip or catmint? – Yes, mm-hm. – [Sheri] And so, talk
a little bit about that. What would you use
that for, teas? – [Stephanie] Yeah, so our
catmint we use for teas. We use it in our
Calming Infusion. As funny as it sounds, it
has a very different effect on humans than it does on cats. (Sheri chuckles) So we blend this with
chamomile and lemon balm, and the three of them together
just make a very calming tea. Our rotation of our beds,
we are always cognizant of what minerals are
being put into the soil. So every plant is taking
up nutrients from the soil, many times in the
form of minerals. And also depositing. So every plant is
going to do that, including those that we
would consider weeds. – Okay, so let’s say
this crop is spent. You’re pulling it out,
what would you do? – So– – To prepare your bed
for another planting. – We would put a
layer of compost down. We would also pull aside some
of the mulch that’s existing. This particular bed has aged
wood chips as its mulch, and we don’t necessarily want
that mixing into the soil. As wood breaks down,
it’s pulling nitrogen, actually just binding it up
during its decomposition. So for beds that have aged
wood chips as the mulch, we’re pulling that aside,
laying some compost down, and then transplanting. If we are going to be doing
it at the end of the season, like we will with
these guys here, we’ll be putting
in a cover crop. And typically that will be Austrian winter
peas or red clover. – Okay, this is one of my
favorites, lemon verbena. Even if the regular gardener
just wanted to grow it for the fragrance in their
garden, it’s perfect. But what are you using this for? – So a lot of restaurants
use this both in food and in cocktails and
infusions for teas. We use it as a medicinal
herb and as a culinary herb. So we are using it in a
tea called Lemon Infusion. We put lemon peel in it as
well, and also lemongrass. So that tea is very flavorful,
also high in Vitamin C. And then medicinally, it’s
very immune supportive and they’re also finding
it really supportive for brain health. – And so what other herbs
do you grow specifically for making your soil
stronger, better? – Yeah, so this is
a perennial herb. So even here in the South
with our harsh winters, there’ll be a few plants
that don’t come back. But it will keep coming back. And so we have to
actually interplant with all of our perennial herbs
to really restore minerals back into the soil. So some of those, one
that I already mentioned, the red clover, is the big one. So then also some
of our annual ones. Chamomile actually
is a great one for restoring
minerals to the soil, and is self-seeding as well. – Are you using German or Roman? – We use German, yeah. Roman has a different flavor
and medicinal profile. And here in middle
Tennessee it’s not perennial like it is in other
parts of the country. And then, we’ll also
interplant different vegetables actually in with our herbs. So legumes, beets,
things like that that are really putting
things back into the soil. – [Sheri] So tell me
about this hibiscus, why are you so excited
about it right now? – [Stephanie] So this is
Red Thai Roselle hibiscus. This is the hibiscus where
if you get a really red hibiscus iced tea or something,
it’s from this plant. – [Sheri] And do they
use the stems of it, I noticed the stems are the red. Or are they gonna
steep the flowers? – It’s actually not
even the flowers, it’s the pods that form
after it has blossomed. – Okay, that’s very interesting. – Yeah, so to me this plant
is just a beautiful plant to have in the yard. And this part of the
country, we have to start it from seed every spring,
but to me it’s worth it. It’s a beautiful plant. – Well, Stephanie, I want
to thank you very much for sharing with us today. I don’t know when you
guys have time to sleep! You and Brian have something
going all the time! (Stephanie chuckles) You are, let’s see,
you’re at the Ashland City Farmer’s Market, you’re a
CSA, you have an Airbnb. And you also do workshops? – We do classes
here at the farm. Typically it’s fall through
early spring that we do those. During the height of the
growing season we’re very busy. But during that time we
will offer cooking classes, classes on how to grow
both herbs and vegetables, how to create a farm,
even, if you want to, how to ferment
food, preserve food, really and also how to eat
locally and seasonally. And then we also
are a huge provider of just local restaurants
for herbs, edible blossoms, and specialty vegetables. – [Sheri] So I’m
sure our viewers could get on your
website and learn more. What is your website? – [Stephanie] It’s, N-O-9 – [Sheri] Well Stephanie,
again I wanna thank you for sharing today. It’s been very
educational for me and I really appreciate
your time today. – [Stephanie] Thank you. (light, upbeat music) – [Announcer] For
inspiring garden tours, growing tips, and
garden projects, visit our website at Or on YouTube at the
Volunteer Gardener channel, and like us on Facebook. (upbeat, playful music) (guitar strumming)


  1. What is the annual plant that begins with German or Roman? I can't understand the 2nd part of the name–maybe one is saying "chamomile"?

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