Jeff and Elise provide insights into their business model for working with medicinal herbs, and how they went about getting the business established. We discuss how they balance labor needs, infrastructure utilization, and production cycle for over 70 annual, perennial, and biennial crops, and how they have developed processes that provide their products with stand-out quality and a significant “wow factor” – something that’s surprisingly important even in the wholesale market that forms the economic backbone of their business.
We also discuss property selection for medicinal herb production, how they’ve used regulatory changes as an opportunity to grow their business, and employee management in a business that is even scratchier, sweatier, and dustier than vegetable production. We also dig into the impacts of the “green rush” prompted by Oregon’s legalization of marijuana, how that’s affected their farm economics, and how they’ve adapted to those changes.
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Quotes from the Show
[Elise] Each plant has its own personality that we've gotten used to working with over the years.
[Jeff] We wouldn't have been able to do it without a good mentor and without people that have lead the way
[Jeff] Those are things that, that's 15 years, 20 years, 30 years of experience and trial and error that you can't buy. The only way you can really seek that is going after people who know it.
[Elise] I felt like the plants were like, "Hey, you need to make this happen, you guys. It's going to be a lot of work and sweat and years of hardship," but at the same time now we can see in our fifth growing season here it's really happening and it's really amazing to see.
[Elise] [Determining our cost of production has] been a great growing process in many ways but also just to be able to stand up and say, "We're not going to be taken advantage of and sell our product for less than it costs us to produce it and we're going to be able to mark it up enough."
[Elise] That's our goal, is to make sure that every day that we can out in the heat and sweat of it all, that we remember to give gratitude to those people because without our crew, we couldn't do it.
Elise mentioned Jeff and Melanie Carpenter’s book, The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer: The Ultimate Guide to Producing High-Quality Herbs on a Market Scale.
Elise and Jeff shared how important their work to establish their production costs at Oshala Farm. They worked with Tanya Murray of the Oregon Small Farm Program in her Cost Study Project.
Elise mentioned her positive experience with Rogue Farm Corps.