Esmond herb farm a worthy investment

A walk through the State Fair displays and exhibits reminds us of just how many people earn a living through agriculture. Farm to table, growing and delivering good food while keeping things interesting is an ongoing business in North Dakota. Big business.

Just before this year’s State Fair we were wowed by one of the most recent adventures undertaken by producers within our readership. In the July issue of Inside Ag, Senior Staff Writer Jill Schramm told us about a herb farm near Esmond that is spicing things up.

“This past spring, gardendwellers FARM near Esmond received a grant from the state Agricultural Products Utilization Commission to purchase a freeze dryer that will enable the business to preserve herbs and extend its season year-round,” Schramm wrote.

The farm, owned by Holly and Barry Mawby, did not spring up overnight. They started growing herbs commercially and selling them wholesale in 2002. There was a lot of hard work and worry involved, to be sure. That’s the way it is in business – especially in agriculture.

One of the problems the couple faced was keeping product fresh. And that’s where the flavor and quality are, noted Holly Mawby. They sold to restaurants and grocery stores but that freshness became more and more expensive to maintain, causing the Mawbys to get creative.

They studied up on freeze-drying and in the process learned that freeze drying creates a shelf life of 25 years. Now they are able to cut and preserve – and profit from – the many varieties of mint, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, dill or basil and other herbs they grow on the farm.

“We will start small so, again, we can wrap our heads around the marketing,” Mawby said. “We probably will start small at trade shows and craft shows. But the hope is to get back into that wholesale market eventually. It’s also a product that you can sell online, which we could never do before.”

We wish the Mawbys great success with the new technology and their marketing plans. They have a right to be proud of what they have accomplished. Well done.

A healthy dose of credit is due the state, which helped out by making the APUC grant. This is exactly the kind of ag businesses the state should be assisting – small town, family operations with great potential. North Dakota has a rich history of innovation in agriculture. The more towns like Esmond that it can impact positively, the better.


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