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Resources for Herbs, Sprouts and Survival Foods

When Derrick, Isabell, and children Angela, Vicky and RIcky, shifted to Nambour in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast over 30 years ago, our desire was have land to grow our own food and be as self-sufficient as possible. We bought an acre of land and soon realized that a bigger block of land would be the way to go, so that we could have our own milk, meat and eggs. We purchased a larger 20 acre block, with approximately 10 acres of cleared land on the outskirts of Nambour.

It was about this time, that we heard Bill Mollison speak on Permaculture, with zones, to encourage a design plan that integrates the environment, plants and people with a vision of possibilities.

Vegetable and herb gardens were started and fruit trees were planted. Poultry, dairy goats, pigs and milking cows were added. Derrick being very gifted with skills of building fences, sheds, and as ‘a fix-it man’ was able to do many and varied tasks on the farm. Derrick, being a butcher by trade, was also able to turn the animals into cuts of meat for the freezer, mince into sausages, meat into smoked hams.

A nursery area was started to provide our own plants for the farm. Soon, people started asking us for various herbs and edible plants and the nursery grew like ‘topsy’.

I found plants so fascinating and loved to read about them and learn as much as I could. Collecting edibles was fun and resourceful for the farm and the nursery. Today our large range of culinary and medicinal herbs, spices, fruits, rare edibles, and seed varieties are sought by people from near and far. Postal orders placed by people for plants and seeds, keeps the family very busy. Derrick, now retired, is still the handy-man. Angela and her husband David, assisted by their daughter Aleisha, now run the farm.

For many years the Farm held regular, free guided farm tours, when I’d would show people around explaining the many useful plants that people could grow in their gardens. These Farm Walks were very popular and large groups of people would assemble to learn.

At the end of one afternoon farm walk, an elderly man was most enthused by the many edible plants, but said, he would never be able to remember all the information. He suggested that I write a book. Many other people over the years echoed the same suggestion.

But, where to find the time, to write a book? However, the concept was often in my thoughts, and I made notes and collected information, and recorded my own and other people’s experiences of benefits to their health with herbs. Herbs can play such a valuable role in health and this is what I wanted to enthuse people to see, and to use their herbs regularly.

Then in 2001 I started to write, and in June 2003 the book was born: “How can I use herbs in my daily life?” which covers over 500 herbs (see this DVD also). The response to the Herb Book from all over the world has been overwhelming, with readers saying they use their herbs more and report wonderful benefits to health. People have told me that they use the Herb Book as a constant reference, and also share the information with others and this is what herbal folklore is all about – passing it on.

Good health is precious. Every person needs to work at maintaining health, therefore, we need to learn all we can about how the body functions, nutrients required, digestion and assimilation, the many benefits of herbs, and the value of food with living enzymes.

As I became more aware of the value of enzymes and living food, I started to see that little things like ‘sprouts’ could have a big impact on health, as they provide a high degree of vitality and rejuvenation to the body. People who were reading the Herb Book were interested in knowing more about wheat grass and sprouts, which I had mentioned in the book. I showed them how I grew sprouts, particularly fenugreek, which is my favourite sprout. It was from that interest, the book “How can I grow and use sprouts as living food?” came to be written (see this DVD also).

Sprouts have so many valuable attributes: high protein and nutrient content, fibre and essential fatty acids, and they are rich in antioxidants and living enzymes. Sprouts are ‘super foods’ and are something every person can grow right in their kitchen at very minimal cost.

Many readers of the sprout book have said that this book should be in every home. The book is easy to read, and it is easy to put the simple steps into practice. I encourage every home to grow sprouts regularly, and get the many benefits of sprouts as living food.

In 2007 I was led to write once more, resulting in “How can I be prepared with Self-sufficiency and Survival Foods?” Many people have said that this book is very timely with the present financial situation.

Just why did I come to write a book centered on this topic? For many years I taught herb courses, covering many edible plants, and included a segment on the importance of self-sufficiency and survival for possible hard times.

During one class, when I asked, “If shops closed tomorrow, how much food do you have to feed your family?”

One woman replied, “Maybe enough for one week.” This made me think how dependent the majority of people are on farmers, trucking companies and shops to provide their daily food. People often expressed that I should put information on self-sufficiency into a book. Then, in 2007, my son Ricky rang from Adelaide, while doing a course on alternative energies.

Ricky said, “Mum, when are you going to write that book on self-sufficiency and survival? There will be a big demand for it.”

His words gave me the nudge to get writing! During 2008 I sensed a real urgency to put this information together. This is not only my perception of what is happening in Australia and world-wide, but everyone is feeling and experiencing the pressure, as everything they purchase has risen in price, dramatically.

The AIM of this book is to share with people the importance of being as self-sufficient as one is able, with the likelihood of very difficult times ahead. We all need to rethink our current wasteful habits and consider the best use of our natural resources and renewable energies. It is time for us all to take action to: reduce, recycle, repair and reuse items, over again.

This book is written for people who have relied upon shops for everything and so that people who already grow some food in their backyard will be spurred on to be even more self-reliant.


  1. ‘herbs’ is one of my favourite books i most frequently refer to, ‘sprouts’ got me sprouting all sorts of different things in the kitchen and ‘self sufficiency’ is a good read also.

    i highly recommend these books but im writing this comment especially to highlight how excellent the nursery is at shippards herb farm. i visit many nurserys being a gardener at home and at work and this one is the best by far and i am so grateful to live so close by (brisbane). if you find yourself in south east qld, check it out! its worth your time but make sure you find out the open hours before you show up! if you miss the open hours at least you’re on the beautiful sunny coast! congrats isabelle and fam!

  2. Thank you for this post. Does the foods book have wide application — for example, would it be useful in the Maritime Northwest, Northern Hemisphere?

    risa b

  3. How awesome. I am impressed by their farm and the books and DVD’s. I think a lot of my customers would be interested in the knowledge from these as well!

    I will have to go and check out their farm the next time I am up that way. Luckily it is only a two hour drive. It would be a worthwhile day trip by the look of it! :-)


    Yes, it’s important with books! But I think even more important it is to create communities where people can share their knowledge every day, and inspire each other to become more self sufficient. I really think the ecovillage movement is one of the most important tools here, and I’m happy to know that permaculture encourage ecovillages.

  5. I have all Isabell’s books and refer to them regularly. The information they contain is priceless. Thank you Isabell.

  6. After reading this post the other day and discovering Isabell’s books and DVD, we ordered them all straight away and had them within 24 hours from her. That is awesome service and we plan to visit her farm in the near future too.

    We have had a look through her books and they seem to have so much awesome stuff in them. They will be reference books which we return to many times over the years, I am sure! :-)

  7. Excellent books, wonderful people. I’ve told many of my sisters of Isabelles books because being Druid herbs are very important to us. Best thing is that Isabelle has the seeds to start things off so no running around like a chook with its preverbial cut off. I just hope that your farm was spared in the floods Isabelle, so much work.

  8. Rhiannon, Isabell’s farm is quiet safe from flooding where it is. I was there two weeks ago and there was no damage. Some of the herbs had been affected by the constant rain over about a month long period and were not in peak condition, but overall, everything seemed unharmed. She is a lovely person as are the rest of the family and they all have an enormous amount of knowledge.

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