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An Abundant Biodynamic Flower Farm Guided By The Cycles Of The Moon

Gardens

Alchemilla is unique biodynamic flower farm and floristry studio in the foothills of Victoria’s Otways, in Birregurra, where founder Phoebe East gardens based on the cycles of the moon!

She was disheartened to discover the scale of flowers being imported into the Australian market from heavily toxic and synthetic environments while studying floristry a few years ago. Drawing on her background in permaculture and an interest in holistic farming, Phoebe decided to establish her own alternative, seasonal farm — and so the seeds for Alchemilla were sown!

19th May, 2022

The quarter-acre flower farm is deep in a valley on alluvial flats and is about a quarter of an acre facing east. Photo – Nikole Ramsay 

Phoebe started the farm with a vision for seasonal, chemical free flowers that are ‘grown in harmony with nature’. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

It’s overflowing with roses, hydrangeas, sweet peas, dahlias and more! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Phoebe supplies her local, seasonal and chemical free flowers to many of Melbourne’s leading florists and also delivers locally around Geelong and the Surf Coast. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Picture-perfect! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Because the farm is seasonal, throughout spring and summer I’m at the farm every day maintaining and harvesting crops, then in autumn (my favourite season), it slows a little with the focus being on packing down after summer, feeding up the soil again and planting out for spring,’ Phoebe says. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Lush flowers as far as the eye can see! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

‘By winter everything is pretty quiet and other than general maintenance there isn’t much to do outside which brings it down to only a couple of days a week,’ Phoebe says. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Phoebe says her dahlia and delphinium beds are her favourite amid the gardens. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Healthy, happy dahlias! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Phoebe also recently published an almanac, creating ‘a resource for gardening enthusiasts that helps make biodynamic gardening and holistic cultivation readily accessible, at all levels.’ Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Christina Karras
Thursday 19th May 2022

‘The vision for the farm was to grow seasonal, chemical free flowers that are grown in harmony with nature and for the farm to sit within the local environment with as little impact as possible.’

Flower farmer and florist Phoebe East says she has always been ‘inspired by the moon’. So, when she came across an agricultural method that incorporated the lunar cycle and cosmic transits, it made ‘absolute sense’ to start using it.

‘There are many benefits of using the lunar cycle in farming. Namely for me though, the monthly lunar cycle throughout the seasons provides planting and cultivation/management windows each day or week that make the most of the gravitational flow of water, minerals and nutrients through plants and soil,’ Phoebe says. These windows are created through charting the movements of the moon, planets and the lunar transits through the constellations.

Phoebe has since paired this intriguing concept with her prior studies in permaculture, which prompted the considered, practical design of her own flourishing biodynamic flower farm, Alchemilla in Birregurra, located about an hour’s drive south-west from Geelong. The quarter-acre block is deep in a valley on alluvial flats in the foothills of the Otways, overflowing with picture-perfect roses, hydrangeas, sweet peas, dahlias and more!

‘The vision for the farm was to grow seasonal, chemical free flowers that are grown in harmony with nature and for the farm to sit within the local environment with as little impact as possible,’ Phoebe explains.

All external inputs on the farm are biodegradable or organic, and Phoebe uses agricultural methods that eliminate the use of herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and pollutants to protect local waterways and ecosystems. ‘For example, to help with weed control, the technique of sheet mulching is used. This is a process of layering cardboard and mulch over the beds, blocking light from getting to weeds which then kills them without the need for tilling of the soil or disruption to the main flower crops,’ she says.

Phoebe’s level of care and thought for the landscape has transpired in the success of Alchemilla’s abundant gardens. ‘The farm is at a stage now where it’s reaching a level of maturity that is creating a really stable ecosystem,’ she says. ‘This is seen primarily through a rich soil web, shrubs and perennial crops that are heading into their fourth year.’

‘Aside from the flowers, my favourite part about [the farm] is the birdlife, and watching or listening to the different species that come and go throughout the seasons.’

Phoebe has also compiled her own guide to planting and cultivation according to the lunar cycles throughout the year in an almanac, featuring monthly lunar planting information alongside monthly and seasonal gardening advice.

Learn more about Alchemilla.

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net