Grinding and Sifting Herbs for a Small Herb Farmer
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Larraine Zarmati
Posted on: February 26, 2007

I am a small herb farmer (just 1/2 acre in herbs), located in Paso Robles, California. I would like to expand, so I could have enough to sell my dry herb blends locally. The problem is up until this point I’ve done everything manually, too much work for me to keep up. I just bought a manual grinder which I can fit with a motor down the road, but I’m still left with all the stems. I’ve tried sifting but still end up with many of the stems. I’m sure there’s equipment out there for the small farmer, but I’m not sure where to go. I don’t have a lot of money to spend, but I know I need some type of grinder, sifter, dehydrator and rototiller, if I want this to work out. I bought a commercial burr manual grain mill, which isn’t as easy to use as I would have hoped, maybe I can still return it if you have any better ideas.

It might appear as if you are now ready for the next important aspect of all cottage industries. Should you custom out or vertically integrate processing into you overall product? Simple processing is not that expensive, and gives you quality assurance (uniformity of your producfdt from one year to another).

My book on a "Centralized Processing Facility," found at offers insight as o where and how to buy used equipment. It also offers insight into basics for cleaning stem via scalping techniques. This is a winnowing technique using air to separate various forms of your product.

A grain mill is not useful for any other the above processes. You need to educate yourself in the principles involved. That’s why I wrote the book in the first place. Begin there, and then ask you questions as you become uncertain what I mean. At this juncture, I see no use for a grain mill, so I would probably advise you in its return.

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