this is phytofarm

Herbal medicine is the medicine of the people. It has long been used to maintain health and treat aliments. Through observation by ordinary people, it has evolved as a viable, modern alternative.

Phyto means plant. We use the word in our name because healing plants are so important at our medicinal plant farm. Our aim is to bring herbal medicine back to its rightful place in garden plots and promotes the ancient kitchen and herbal pharmacy that uses plants in our environment.


plant diversity

  • Redwoods, Tasmanian Blackwoods, and Red Elder provide a shady canopy for forest loving medicinal plants.
  • Fenced valleys and wetlands for native tree regeneration.
  • Plantings of medicinal trees – Ginkgo, Elder and Chaste Tree are being established.
  • The sunny, north facing, heart-shaped, formal herb garden is dominated by a large garden folly symbolising the Aortic Arch.
  • The garden beds contain a Materia Medica of plants suitable for the South Islands temperate climate.
  • Plots of culinary and edible flower beds provide a selection of microgreens favoured for their concentrated nutrition.
  • Plants with striking flower heads, leaf shape or seed pods are laid out behind perennial borders.
  • Aromatic hedges contrast with wild meadow and pasture herbs.

The principles of sustainable and organic farming are crucial to this herb farm. Crops are managed with generous dressings of compost and peastraw for moisture retention and weed control.

About Valmai Becker

In the 1980’s Valmai owned The Old Shipping Office, an Akaroa restaurant popular for its provincial cuisine, artful plate design; use of herbs and edible flowers. She attained a Diploma in Naturopathy (ND) in 1980 and with this qualification she established and managed a clinical practice for eight years, specializing in using the philosophies and traditions of natural medicine and a holistic self-healing model of wellness. She used Herbal Medicine, Nutritional and Massage Therapy to manage acute and chronic conditions.

Valmai is a well known Naturopath and Professional Member of New Zealand Association Medical Herbalists. Her passion for Natural Medicine took her into the realm of education and for 17 years she was a Co-owner and Director of Canterbury College of Natural Medicine. As the course director she wrote curriculum to New Zealand Qualifications Authority standard for the Diploma programmes taught at the college and was a teacher in many aspects of Natural Medicine.

The development of Phytofarm is now her primary passion and brings together a number of her skills – gardener, teacher, learner and care taker of 30 acres of forest and gardens. We invite you to join us for an inspirational learning experience in herbal medicine, wellness and creating your own garden pharmacy.