Domestic herb farms, especially in the Pacific Northwest, produce a multitude of organic crops with harvests planned for various portions of a plant. Echinacea, Dandelion, and Marshmallow are just a few examples of plants where aerial parts and roots are harvested. Final cutting of the aerial portion often runs late into September and overlaps with the root harvest.
This transition is as dramatic as the season change.
A good farmer had better be ready because they are up against the clock more than ever. Easier said than done when you have little or no downtime to prepare! With climate change making weather increasingly unpredictable, advanced preparation is the one thing a farmer has control over. Having spare parts on hand, workers committed, fuel tanks full, root washer prepped, drying facility sanitized, and tractors ready to roll is paramount no matter the acreage or farm size.
Experience is what gives you the confidence and ability to estimate your yields. Standing in a field of organic dandelions in the midst of harvest, it’s obvious that this harvest is exceptional. Yet, everyone on this farm is focused on the task at hand.
It’s Sunday with nothing but rain over the previous two days and more expected to come. We watch anxiously as tractor operators struggle to navigate wet soil, pulling trailers fully loaded with root.
Nervous smiles are exchanged.
The sun starts to peek through the gray sky and it looks like harvest will continue for today. Every beaming ray is appreciated. This organic crop is in high demand and we are counting on a complete harvest to meet our customer’s needs for food and medicine in the year ahead.
Regardless of high yields, a few workers make a final sweep of the field, collecting roots left in the dirt behind the machines. Every last pound counts. The washing line operates regardless of heavy rains. It has a stock pile of dirty roots that only disappears when field digging ceases. Dryers run round-the-clock to keep up. You could just about set your watch by the systematic flow of dried material moving out and fresh loaded right back in.
Everyone is weary from a taxing summer season, but spirits are high with the end of a successful and satisfying harvest in sight. Tractor tires spin in mud as the final trailers are unloaded. High fives are given by all, before hats are hung to dry.
The smell of dank soil and potent roots remain with us until next spring...
Learn more about our selection of organic roots from the United States and beyond on our website.
Nate Johnson is our International Farms Manager, bringing a lifelong background in organic farming, especially in the production of dehydrated herbs and spices to Mountain Rose. Growing up at the base of Mount Adams, his life has revolved around agriculture and the outdoors - mainly perusing extreme sports and a country lifestyle. Nate also enjoys multicultural activities with Spanish as his second language.