Wise Woman Herbals® produces the finest quality botanical supplements through partnerships with the finest quality organic growers and wildcrafters. One of our valued partners is Tyler McGrath of Methow Medicinal Herb Farm in Washington. As an experienced grower, Tyler is dedicated to providing the highest quality botanical products through sustainable wildcrafting practices and small-scale polyculture farming. Methow Medicinal Herb Farm is a 23 acre farm located in the rural Methow Valley on the Eastern slope of the North Cascades in Washington State. They currently intensively manage 16 acres, which harbors well over 20 species of medicinal herbs, shrubs and trees, and a multitude of microorganisms, insects, birds, and mammals, all of which are welcome on the farm.
It’s important to know where your herbs come from, so we wanted you to get to know Tyler and his commitment to the quality botanicals and stewardship of the earth.
WWH Q: How did you begin your love of wildcrafting and farming medicinal herbs?
Tyler A: I had my first farming experience as an intern on a small organic vegetable farm in California. I loved it so much that I decided it would be a career thar I would like to pursue. Years later, I took a position managing and operating the farm that would later become Methow Medicinal Herb farm, and from that point on I’ve dedicated myself fully to making it a viable and sustainable livelihood.
I have always had a great affinity for the outdoors and natural biotic systems. When I was introduced to wildcrafting, I knew almost immediately that it would be a wonderful accompaniment to my work as an organic farmer. I have found wildcrafting to be both challenging and deeply rewarding work, and I feel a lot of responsibility and commitment to making sure I harvest from wild lands in a way that is sustainable, respectful, and minimally impactful.
With my curiosity and love of natural ecosystems, I have always held a steadfast commitment to making an effort to farm in a way that is in harmony with life, diversity, health, and improvement. To me, certified organic agriculture is a starting point to this lifelong endeavor of learning to produce crops in what I like to think of as a win-win-win manner; that is, good for me and my family, good for my customers, and good for the land and the environment.
WWH Q: What practices do you use to harvest the best quality plants?
Tyler A: I aim to cultivate and produce medicinal plants with a model that promotes health, vitality, diversity, and resiliency. I have steadfastly stayed away from using any sort of life-destroying products on my fields. I have therefore never applied insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides to my fields, and have also stayed away from concentrated harsh fertilizers. I am a proponent of composting, cover-cropping, crop rotation, and interspecies planting, and have a strong belief that maintaining and improving soil health is key to the long-term success of producing quality crops season after season. Through this relatively simple philosophy I have achieved strong, healthy, potent crops that are pest and disease-free on a consistent basis.
WWH Q: When wildcrafting, what do you look for to determine a healthy plant community from which to harvest?
Tyler A: It is best to search for areas where the desired wild plant is a very abundant and healthy stand. Taking the time to find these areas allows me to carefully hand-harvest a tiny percentage of that plant in an efficient manner, while simultaneously allowing for the harvest of healthy plants int the desired stage of growth that will yield optimal herbal medicine.
WWH Q: What plants do you provide for WWH on a consistent basis?
Tyler A: I provide a variety of organically cultivated plants. Some of these are milky oats, California poppy, bee balm, goldenrod, and catnip. I also wildcraft lomatium, arnica, and yarrow for use in WWH products.
WWH Q: Farming can be challenging. What keeps you going?
Tyler A: Owning and operating a small organic family farm has been a wonderful and deeply rewarding career. There are many challenges and obstacles every year, and I have found an attitude of perseverance, optimism, and reliance to be crucial for maintaining the balance necessary to carry on day after day, year after year. It has been a wonderful experience to provide medicinal plants to Wise Woman Herbals and I deeply appreciate the relationship I have developed and maintained with WWH and for your customers.