Richard Alan Miller began his career in agriculture in 1972 with the formation of The Beltane Corporation in Seattle. He started as sole proprietor, retailing books and herbs. By 1980, he had a staff of 12 employees, with the company wholesaling herbs, spices and teas to the six Western states. The company also imported spices for its milling and herb tea line.
In 1980 Rick became a limited partner in a reorganization and expansion of The Beltane Herb Company, Inc. His function was as Agricultural Scientist and Buyer for Western Herb Farms (Seattle) and Country Spice Tea (Portland). He then moved to eastern Washington to establish and develop extensive farm and forage plans for the mass tea market and export.
During that same period, two additional corporations were formed: West Coast Dehydrators, Inc. (Carlton) and Methow Valley Herb Growers Association (Twisp). The first corporation designed and built an experimental prototype dehydrator for herb and spice farming (USDA Grant Proposal 8306074 "A Commercial Portable Dehydrator for Alternative Small-Farm Agricultural Crops".). The second corporation was a profit-sharing marketing cooperative.
Rick moved to Grants Pass, Oregon, in 1983. His book, The Potential of Herbs as a Cash Crop (Ten Speed Press) was developed from several courses he taught at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass and Medford. The courses were very popular and led to the formation of The Southern Oregon Herb Gatherers’ Association, Inc. (Grants Pass), a profit-sharing marketing cooperative.
In 1985, Rick began publishing a national newsletter for the herb farmer and forager called "The Herb Market Report" which was one of the subject. He also writes columns in numerous national magazines as well as feature stories and interviews. Book titles include Native Plants of Commercial Importance (OAK), The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs (Destiny), The Magical and Ritual Use of Perfumes (Destiny), Forest Farming (OAK), Computers on the Farm (OAK), and Successful Farm Ventures (OAK). He is also contributing editor to ACRES, USA (Kansas City). Rick’s latest writings include three titles for the Richters Herb Farming Series of e-books.
Rick received a grant (USDA Grant Proposal 8600849 "A Centralized Processing Facility for Botanical Alternatives as Cash Crops") in 1986, and a year later formed Northwest Botanicals, Inc. to broker the growing number of new domestic farmers and foragers producing herbs and spices. He has been approached by numerous businesses to develop similar farming and processing facilities. Grants received in 1994 include projects in "Forest Farming" (FEDA), "Specialized Harvesters" (OEDD), and "Preservation of Salal Greens (USDA).
Rick has been retained as a special consultant to such firms as Botanicals International, Inc. (Long Beach, CA) and John I Haas, Inc. (Yakima, WA/Wash D.C./Munich, Germany). His primary emphasis is toward new crops development in both the foraging and farming of herbs and spices. Extensive networks of producers in more than 34 States and most Provinces in Canada have been created as a direct result of his writings and workshops. Rick is now considered a world expert in the marketing of these crops.
A number of cottage industries have emerged because of his activities with these various corporations. These include Golden Eagle Herbal Chew (Grants Pass) and Frozen Pesto (Ashland), both now into the mass markets. Many networks, in such diverse regions as South Dakota, Northern California, Montana, and the Spokane Indians, have received grants as a direct result of his work.
Rick welcomes your questions about growing and marketing herbs as a business. He is also available as an Agricultural Consultant for more in-depth assistance.
(Please allow 1-4 days for a reply, or longer if Rick is busy.)