Starting a Small Herb Farm for Culinary Herbs
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Wayne Huisman
Posted on: October 30, 2007

My wife and I just purchased a small (2 acres) plot of land just outside of Silverton, Oregon. Our goal is to raise herbs for culinery purposes to supply local resturants and attend farmers markets. We are novices and are doing this as a labor of love and not for profit (although break-even would be nice). Any advice on local organizations to join, books or lectures groups to help us would be appreciated.

I have done several basic farm plans for this region of Oregon in the past 20 year, so I am already semi-familiar with some of the land and soil requirements. My orientation is always for showing a profit, as most need this to supplement incomes. Also, local capital equipment inventories are essential for crop selection.

Two acre plots are not small farming but a form of gardening. That means crop selections will be different, and easy for such marketing options as Farmers’ Markets and local grocery outlets who like to purchase from local production. Setting you up with local resources is often part of a basic Farm Plan.

For detail on what I would need for setting up a basic Farm Plan and costs, please go to

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/oakservice.htm

By the way, I have not changed these prices in more than 20 years. You should also read my book "The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop," especially the chapter on Cottage Industries.

In 1987, Rising Sun Herb Farms (Hilt, OR), patterned their business off one example in that chapter, growing Basil for manufacturing. In less than 3 years, they sold 4 acres of Basil as "Frozen Pesto to Neiman Marcus for a gross income of $1.4M. Niche marketing is always a good way to orient small farm ventures. You really want to market your labor, not the crops grown.

Floral trade is also an excellent bet, and should be included in your overall business plan. Crafters are always looking for raw materials to make their own home products. Why not give me a call when I return from my vacation in two weeks (541-476-5588). We can discuss options and direction for your Farm Plan at that time.

Most basic business plans for 2008 want to begin their actual soil preparations and seed purchases in early February, 2008. Make that note for your calendar of "things to do." I’ve got some ideas I would like to share with you on what you might want to consider.

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