What began as winter work for the vegetable gardeners became its own workstation in the late 1990s. What we call the Herb Garden combines the work of a nursery, a cut flower farm, a culinary and medicinal herb garden and soap crafters. We additionally serve the Innisfree community by maintaining Pasture Fence, our community store. The Herb Garden cultivates approximately 1/3 acre. This includes two garden spaces as well as our greenhouse for nursery starts and a 20’ x 60’ hoophouse/greenhouse which is used for both nursery plants and cut flower growing. We start cut flowers in crates in the greenhouses in early autumn for winter harvesting and sale to Great Valu grocery store in Crozet. These flowers and those that come from the gardens later are sold through the early autumn. Gardeners work to harvest, package and deliver these bouquets from February-September.
Beginning in February the greenhouses also become full of nursery starts for our own gardens as well as for the 30+ people who regularly order plants from us each year. We offer a variety of different plants for sale with pick-up on the farm in early May. A list of the current plant descriptions and planting instructions are linked below. Gardeners work to prepare potting soil, plant seeds, label, and tend thousands of plants each year. This includes watering and maintaining appropriate temperatures in the greenhouses, weeding and working to control disease and insect infestations. Innisfree gardens approach this work with the spirit of the sustainable agriculture community and gardeners get to work within and learn from these practices.
When the weather warms to allow the gardeners outside to work we begin our herbal work in earnest. This takes us through until the frost drives us inside. Gardeners prepare beds, haul and build compost, weed, plant, and harvest the plants that are then dried in our attic to be turned into our own teas and spices for the community. While we are inside doing this work gardeners are also busy packaging bulk food, arranging our store shelves and keeping track of the needs of our community store. Herb gardeners also learn to make, label and felt soap which we sell at local craft fairs and to our community. Our soaps are made using the cold pressed method and incorporate some of the herbs we grow in the gardens.