The farm – or ‘biosphere’ – in Groede (the Netherlands) consists of 17 acres of land that is exceptionally suited for growing medicinal plants. The heavy clay soil prevents weeds from sprouting en masse in the summer and releases water even in dry periods from a large natural well of water beneath the entire domain. The farm gets many hours of sun compared to the Dutch metrological standard, as well as plenty of showers and very few extreme weather phenomena. The farm is situated in a beautiful natural area, which is also the most sparsely populated region in the Netherland: western Zeelandic Flanders. The farm’s lay-out clearly reflects our permaculture practices. For instance, we maintain the fields and farm yard without using any pesticides. All buildings, including the house, were built with sustainable methods and products: wood instead of cement, paints made from linseed oil rather than tropical paints, mineral wool and agricultural by-products for insulations wherever possible, as well as recycled building materials. Moreover, we use natural means, such as biological alcohol for cleaning.
Eighty solar collector heat pipes serve to heat the barn and the laboratory where our plants are processed. The lab and the storage depot are outfitted with modified steel sheet roofs (500 m2) which supply the herb dryer with hot air. A separate rain water storage and pipe system supplies water for applications that do not require potable water, such as the laundry machine, dishwasher, toilet and more. Wastewater is purified by an infiltration bed containing reeds (IBA3 with helophytes filter). The land is worked either manually or with the lightest possible machines and tools. Plants are grown far enough apart from one another and in fixed beds to prevent soil exhaustion, and to make weed control easier. The only fertilizer used is the occasional bit of lime and certified home-grown compost.
At Biosfeer Groede, we strive to make the largest positive contribution possible to nature and our environment. Our permaculture contains numerous trees, shrubs and bushes as well as herbs and grasses – all of which are used in our production process. We create a harmonious environment for micro-organisms, insects, birds and small wildlife. We are even famous for our so-called hare restaurant, an area outside of our fields where we grow herbs specifically for birds and hares. This way, we avoid animals eating our own crops.
Biosfeer Groede uses common sense and environmentally-friendly methods to grow medicinal and aromatic plants. We specialise in small-scale innovative and organic farming and process our crops in-house. We operate per organic permaculture methods without using imported fertilizer or pesticides. All our products are grown meticulously to maximise the number of active compounds and to optimise flavour.