- Additional Plants: herbs, native plants
- Farm Business Management: value added
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
This project aims to increase efficiencies in value added botanical production in order to have a positive impact on production profitability, farmer quality of life, and increased business opportunities.
To increase efficiency, alternative row mulch will be laid for weed suppression, and a mechanical baby leaf harvester will replace hand harvesting. To support increased yield and efficiency, a forced air dryer system will be improved upon with racks to increase usable surface area, and the dehumidifier inside will be replaced with an appropriately sized unit that can effectively draw moisture from the plant material.
In addition, there will be a focus on waste reduction. Aromatic plant waste will be used to create natural fragrance materials called absolutes. This has potential as an additional source of income when sold raw or in value-added goods, such as perfume and candles.
Little information is available on farm raised value added botanical and medicinal production, so extensive data will be taken. Creating products from the plant waste of native aromatics will support pollinators and key species through crops grown, while creating an environmentally responsible product.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Test equipment for efficient harvesting and drying to maximize yield, and scale up
- Increase supply of dried botanicals to meet the demands of retailers, beverage companies and artisans (e.g. Well Rooted Teas, North Star Kombucha)
- Determine yields and value of absolutes from excess plant material (e.g. stems from native aromatics), and identify species best suited for production to create value-added goods from absolutes to test compatibility (e.g. solubility in beeswax)
- Long term: establish perennial colonies of native botanicals for food, beverage, value-added products, species diversity, and pollinator/ecological benefit
- Share findings broadly with farmers in-person and through my website/social media page