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We began our work in agriculture in 2017 with the Refugee Team at New Leaf growing a dye plant called Mexican Mint Marigold or Tagetes lucida. Miranda first worked with the plant in Oaxaca, where it grows wild in the valleys. Both the flowers and the plant itself yield color, with results ranging from greens, to vibrant yellow to rich ochre.

The day of our first harvest of the perennial crop in the Fall of 2018, we also planted thirty Pomegranate trees for longterm cultivation. Once they mature, we will be able to utilize the rinds of the pomegranate fruit to create dyes. For short term use, we also spread seeds of native flowers that are known to have dye properties. We also plan to add Weld, Indigo, and Madder in the Spring of 2020.

​New Leaf has established their farm through regenerative agriculture and permaculture methodology. The Berm Swale system that our perennial Mexican Mint Marigold grows upon has dramatically decreased the amount of water needed to nourish the plant. Each season its root structure will increase and the plant will grow larger and larger, while its roots will also help to prevent erosion of the berm throughout the year. 

The dye plant helps to restore the nutrient balance of the clay soil on the farm, priming it for future crop rotation to edible plants, all while sequestering carbon in the soil. In the coming seasons, we will continue our exploration of dye plant cultivation with New Leaf, and are honored to be founding partners of their endeavor.

photo courtesy of Steve Moakley for New Leaf Farm and the MRC