How we grow, source and harvest ashwagandha

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Over the years we have returned to the organic ashwagandha fields many times and know the farmers well.

All of Pukka’s ashwagandha is grown in an arid region of north Karnataka (South West India), where farmers are poorer than average, mainly due to the harsh farming environment and the limited choice of crops that can be grown.

Few farmers can afford to dig wells for irrigation, which means that ashwagandha, which is remarkably drought-resistant, is perfect for areas difficult to irrigate.

The ashwagandha fields of north Karnataka are also the source of other important Ayurvedic herbs; andrographis and tulsi, thrive as cultivated plants alongside gokshura, bhumiamalaki and musta, all growing naturally as ‘weeds’ in the organic fields.

The farmers encourage them to grow to full-size and harvest them throughout the year.

Spaced out seedlings

The way in which herbs are grown on the farm can have a significant influence on the quality and cost of the final product. In the case of ashwagandha, the spacing of the seedlings in the field is a surprisingly important factor.

The distance between the plants, combined with the time of harvest, determines the thickness, shape and fibre content of the root; this influences the method used by the farmers to separate the stem from the root.

Thicker fibrous roots also make it harder to produce a uniform, fine powder. If the seedlings are too far apart, or left in the field for too long, it's likely that there will be problems with the powder's consistency.

This is just one example of why we building close relationships with the farmers we work with is so important to us. Only with regular communication and feedback can we understand and respond to their challenges, just as they understand and respond to ours, and we get the correctly spaced out seedlings producing perfectly 'powderable' ashwagandha to use in our Wholisitic Ashwagandha supplement formula.

Meet the author

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Ben Heron, Sustainable Herbs Manager

My main responsibility at Pukka is to make sure the herbs we source are Pukka – in other words, that they are grown, collected and processed in ways that meet our sustainability, quality and Fair for Life standards. This means that I spend a lot of time visiting and working with our suppliers, and am often behind the camera taking photos and videos for the website. With a background in plant conservation, I am passionate about driving Pukka’s vision of ‘conservation through commerce’.

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