Where to Find a Farmer of Organic Catnip
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Frank Novak
Posted on: December 13, 2004

I am a manufacturer in Los Angeles and am getting ready to introduce a cat toy that uses organic catnip. Is there a farm co-op or association that will connect me with a farmer so I can buy, say 500 pounds directly from?

It’s interesting the markets for catnip continue to grow. I was just recently hired to help buy catnip for a firm in Ontario, much like your own needs. And, with its newly discovered use as a pharmaceutical, there now are only shortages everywhere I turn. All my good growers (12 to 18 years) have left that crop because of holding inventories each year. I personally have grown it for almost 27 years.

OK, I know who has it and who has what. Mostly the crops available are pretty bad. The Canadian sources are cheap enough, and he certainly has volumes. It is packed in totes, and milled down to not show stem. The problem is that there are two different years, one source from another. The wildcrafted is better, but also has some fairly heavy stick to it - harvested late. To scalp it would increase its costs (yields).

OK, here is the problem. None of them have any nepetalactone. This means that it won’t do for the cat what the cat wants. And that’s that. I always believed in vertical integration. This means you have complete control of your final product. You grow the herb; you process the herb -- each year requiring a bit different protocols to give a final "quality assurance." Like "Oshkosh, by gosh. Can’t bust ‘um."

I’ve even written a technical crop report, similar to that of Echinacea angustifolia, found at www.herbfarminfo.com. You will need the Processing Center PDF, and probably me, to get this actually working smoothly. 50 lbs. is not enough to go this direction, but when you need upward of 4,000 lbs. per season -- then it becomes significant.

Right now, the best product is from India, although the wildcrafted could have been better - IF it had been harvested earlier. Farmed catnip, done correctly, is the best bet there is. My farm cat had worn a game trail down to my 40-acre patch on the Methow years ago. It was the first thing he did, before he went hunting. It was sad to say, I left him with the farm, when I moved to Oregon.

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