Jane Hawley Stevens raises certified organic medicinal herbs on her farm in North Freedom, Wisconsin, and turns them into creams, lip balms, and salves that are sold nationwide. With about five acres in production, Four Elements Herbals produces a wide variety of annual and perennial medicinals in the Baraboo Bluffs of Wisconsin.
We dig into medicinal herb production and post-harvest handling, meeting FDA regulations for processing and for selling herbal products, and how Jane has grown the Four Elements Herbal brand in the market place.
Four Elements Herbals recently used a Value-Added Producer Grant to support the expansion of their product line, which in turn drove significant growth in the business overall. Jane shares her experiences managing growth and moving into a national market, as well as how she has passed the field production torch to a new generation and the ways that her job has changed as her business has grown.
We also learn the meaning of the word, “garble.”
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
We’ve noticed that over the years, no matter how well you manage your perennial crops through hand weeding, hoeing, mulching, after a while the weeds just take over. So we till them under and replant.
Most tea companies are forced to buy their herbs from the world market. What makes ours so different is that we are in charge of the quality from seed to the finished product.
It’s ruthless out there now [in the herbal products market] unless you find the right partners.
I think co-ops and what I’m doing are just such a natural fit. I think it’s really important for co-ops and independents and farmers to maintain their partnerships to keep that integrity going of what started this industry.
Jane told us how she sells herbs to the nearby Wollersheim Winery to make their gin and absinthe.
And I mentioned that I used to sell my dill to an aquavit producer, Gamle Ode of Wisconsin.
Jane serves on the governing council of the American Herbalists Guild.
… and she’s a member of the American Herbal Products Association.
You can find Jane’s teaching schedule at Four Elements Herbal on her website.