You are here:Home > Science & Nature > Sustainability
Aromaland buys from small farmers

We work with small farmers all around the world who practice sustainable agriculture. We have been sourcing these small farmers for over 20 years. Many if not all the practices detailed below are demonstrated by our farmers. Our farmers are distillers and the plant material is processed into an essential oil on the same land where it is grown. The whole cycle is complete and sustains itself within its own carefully managed ecosystem.

Sustainable agriculture seeks in principle to promote economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. These three tenets are to be embraced as one functional unit. Decisions concerning a sustainable agriculture should then enhance the environment and the farmer's economic situation and benefit the regional society. Holistic Management gives us a way to move forward on these three tenets. It gives us a way to design agriculture to truly mimic nature's principles of sustainability. It gives us a way to make decisions that automatically take into account the society, the economics, and the environment before they are made.

To better understand how nature functions, her basic processes need to be considered. Looking closely, four basic processes can be found in all natural systems. First, water falls to earth as rain, filters through the soil and is either taken up by plants or continues downward to become ground water. When water is cycling effectively, floods are infrequent and of lower impact, water is released slowly through underground flow into springs and streams, and erosion is virtually non-existent. If on the other hand, bare soil is exposed and plant density is low, most water runs off the landscape rapidly resulting in soil erosion, much less water entry into the soil, and severe and more frequent flooding. So, an effective water cycle is apparent in nature and essential to a sustainable agriculture.

A second natural process we can observe in nature is the mineral cycle through the biological system. Minerals needed for biological growth are constantly recycled from soil to plant to animal and back to soil again. There is very little waste in the natural mineral cycle. There is no need for fertilizer in nature, as all the fertility is recycled again and again with very little loss. Ultimately, to be sustainable, we need to find ways to utilize the natural mineral cycle while minimizing our off-farm purchase of minerals. Farming practices that inhibit the natural mineral cycle, only reduce the sustainability of our farm.

A third natural process shows us that plant and animal communities strive toward high biodiversity. Not only is diversity high in the numbers of species, but also the genetic diversity within species, and a wide age structure of each population present. Greater diversity produces greater stability within the system. It also assures minimal pest problems. Large expanses of monoculture represent a simple level of diversity. Monocultures are almost never present in nature. Monocultures require great energy expenditure, either with fossil fuels or animal and human power to maintain. Weed invasion is nature's way of injecting diversity into monocultural cropland. When biodiversity is increased, the cost of pest control and fertilizer is decreased.

Crop rotation is the first step toward increasing biodiversity on the farm. It helps break weed and pest life cycles and provides complementary fertilization to crops in sequence with each other. Advancing from rotation to strip intercrops represents an even higher level of biodiversity. Our strip intercropping of spices, lumber trees, flowering and essential oil plants are several examples. Increasing habitat for more beneficial organisms with more borders, windbreaks, and special plantings for natural enemies of pests such as pennyroyal represent even higher levels of biodiversity and stability.

The fourth natural process involves the flow of energy from the sun through the biological system. The sun is the fuel driving the biology of our farm. Energy flows from the sun through the ecosystem from one level to the next. Sunlight is absorbed by the green plant, enabling it to grow. Plants are eaten by animals that are in turn eaten by predators which are eaten by even higher predators. During each step, energy is being transferred from one level to the next. Energy is transferred below ground through plant roots that eventually die. The dead roots become food for decomposer organisms. The waste and by- products from the primary decomposers are consumed by another set of secondary decomposers. Finally the residue is broken down into plant available nutrients and soil humus. At each step of the decomposition process, energy is either transferred from one organism to another or is lost as heat.

In summary, the holistic decision-making process incorporates values-based goal setting, the appropriate use of tools, financial planning, land planning, biological planning, and careful monitoring of effects. All these aspects are managed as a whole unit. The benefits are higher quality of life, financial stability, consistent profitability, and the confidence of knowing that your decisions are improving the environment and the community you live in. It provides people with a means to make decisions that more accurately mirror the way nature functions (in wholes), and thereby ensure that our civilization is truly sustainable over time.