Earcine Evans and her husband Mark manage Francis Flowers & Herb Farm in Pickens, Mississippi. Their crops on the seven acre farm are used for esthetic and culinary purposes, hair and skin care products and herbal remedies. Though the sheer diversity of plants reduces pest pressure, Earcine and Mark also work actively to help plants thrive.
Common practices include carefully selecting chemical-free topsoil and applying biodynamic compost tea. Typically compost tea is made by submerging finished compost in water, allowing it to steep for a few days, then straining and diluting the liquid to apply as foliar spray or soil drench. Biodynamic compost tea differs in that it is made with biodynamic preparations, including different combinations of mineral, plant and animal manure extracts that are usually fermented and applied in small portions to the compost. Among other benefits, compost tea contains microorganisms that aid in protecting plants from disease, improves soil structure and increases nutrient uptake.
Through this and other agroecological techniques Earcine and Mark are able to produce flowers and herbs free of chemical inputs. This adherence to sustainable, agroecological practices reflects the influence of earlier generations in the family’s more than 150 years managing the farm — particularly Earcine’s grandmother, a midwife and herbalist who emphasized the importance of cultivating and living without chemicals.