Seeking Information for Retirement Herb Project
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Barbara Winani
Posted on: July 12, 2002

Dear Friends,

I have received your catalogue which is absolutely fabulous, books, seeds, plants a real heaven for agriculturalist.

For my retirement have decided to do something with plants. The last 10 years have been working like administrator in Agricultural/Livestock oriented NGO and have learned enough of agriculture that will help me to start my own small business. The plan is:

1.. Planting plants for tea making

2.. Planting plants for oil extraction - to be used for soaps or other toiletries or oil just for sale.

3.. Making herbal oils and vinegars for sale.

Before I start planting or buying seeds of herbs or spices, I have to know which plants do I need. What plants are used for what. To do that, I first need a couple of books. Here is what I have chosen. Are these books the ones that I need? Without perusing trough a book - just buying it blindly is a bit difficult. Can you advice me if my choice is right?

1. Growing and Selling Fresh cut Herbs B 4075 $ 40.-

This book is excellent for growing fresh cut herbs for the fresh produce market. Fresh herbs are used to make herbal oils and vinegars too so this could be very useful for the growing part of the project.

You don’t say where you plan to grow and market your products. Your email address suggests that you are in Tanzania; is that where you plan to set up your project? If it will be in Africa, then you must consider the climatic differences between Africa and the more temperate areas where most of the herbs covered in "Growing and Selling Fresh-cut Herbs" and other books. For example, french tarragon and chives can be a challenge to grow in warm tropical areas because they need a cool rest period at least once a year.

2. The Soap Book B 7377 $ 21.-

3. Herbal Vinegar B 5225 $ 22.-

4. The Herbal Tea Garden B 5150 $ 24.-

The above three books are very good as aids to develop products. They are not commercially-minded so the techniques and discussion are not geared for setting up a business, but the ideas for growing and using herbs will be a big help to get you started.

5. The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal B 5660 $ 24.-

6. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatheraphy B 1860 $ 30.-

Both are good choices. Again, because they are not geared for commercial applications you will have to take what you learn from those two books and adapt to your particular situation.

TOTAL $ 161.- plus postage?.

All of these books are good choices for helping you to get oriented in your new business. The key for success for you will be to be able to adapt this information to your needs. Herb businesses come in all sizes and varieties and no book has all the complete step-by-step instructions needed to start all of them.

I will also have to learn how to extract oils from plants? Can you help me with that too? Please, help me succeed with my adventure!

Oil extraction is a specialized business. There are different processes used to extract plant oils depending on the plant and the desired product. For example, most essential oils such as lavender oil and mint oil are steam distilled and other, "heavier" oils are extracted with solvents or are squeezed out by pressing.

Richters doesn’t carry a technical book on oil extraction but you can get an overview online at Also, visit the "Resources for Growers" section of our website where you will find useful links under "Essential Oils".

Robert Seidel’s presentation on oil distillation using small commercial distillation equipment is in "Richters Third Commercial Herb Growing Conference" which is available from the books section of our catalogue.

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