Nature of the Business
There is nothing that bothers me more than disappointing a customer. When someone excitedly approaches our booth to purchase one of their favorite products, it breaks my heart to tell them it is out of stock. Ben assures me that many small business sell out of items, and it is perfectly acceptable business practice. Even though there is not much I can do about our limited supply, I still feel like I am failing at this.
On the medicinal herb farm that I worked for years, the owner had such a healthy relationship with failed crops, low yields and unforeseen circumstances. When hurdles come at me, I try to channel her cool demeanor and roll with the punches; reminding myself that nature is a force far greater than I.
We haven't been shy about voicing our struggles with soil health at the garden we borrow. This factor has left us with far lower crop yields than we were anticipating. The compacted soil has played a large part in our lack of tusli basil. This tasty adaptogenic (anti-stress) herb plays a huge part in the flavor profile of our Lymphatic Tisane, resulting in very small batches of this increasingly popular blend.
We would love to solve this shortage problem by buying supplies from local organic farms, especially from the one I used to work. Unfortunately with current manufacturing practices, if we do not grow the plants ourselves they need to be tested. To not only prove they are the herb they say they are, but also that there is no bacteria or mold present in the material. Every herb that we buy in needs to come with a certificate of analysis (COA) stating all of these factors.
Small herb farms do not usually pay to go through the rigorous testing and costs for COA's with each plant that they grow every season. And it certainty does not make economical sense for us to pay for testing just the pound or two that we might order from them. This process may be great for protecting the consumer, providing an extra level of accountability. But it forces us to buy from larger herb companies that provide COA's with each purchase, and that comes with its own set of problems.
Do not get me wrong we definitely rely on these bigger companies for sourcing our cloves, cardamom, green rooibos and other herbs that we will probably never grow. But we have also received tulsi basil from one such source and it was brown and completely lacking in that highly aromatic scent we have come to love about holy basil. I had to go with my gut and just not put that flavorless plant material in our Lymphatic blend, resulting in our smaller batch this year. I think with larger companies, quality control can sometimes slip through the cracks. But fear not, I am the last line of defense and will always value quality over quantity.
For those of you that have been with me for some time know the struggle we have had with our rose geranium. It has been quite the journey with sourcing this guy, then learning a little too late that you need to propagate to keep the plant line going. This scented geranium is also known as "mosquito plant," and with one sniff you will see why he is the star of our coveted bug spray. We are limited in our production of this sought after product by the amount of rose geranium that we grow/distill. To combat our lack of supply, we do not sell this spray online. We limit sales to our summer subscription boxes, our newsletter subscribers (sign up at the bottom of our homepage) and then if any bottles are left we sell them at our in-person events.
For some reason this season our comfrey was not as prolific as usual; I predict this may effect our Boo Boo balm and Tattoo Aftercare supply next year.
And for our next hurdle, this year the birds have decided to eat our elderberries before they have even had a chance to turn red. As you can see in the picture, they have been feasting on the green berries not allowing them to mature. People ask why we do not net our elder trees (technically a shrub). We have clusters of elders planted in multiple spots on our property, some of these shrubs are currently over 20' tall and honestly we do not mind sharing with the wildlife. Unfortunately this year they are being greedy, leaving us with just scraps to create our seasonal Elderberry syrup. We are getting in front of the predicted scarcity and limiting our 4 oz. bottles to our Winter Box subscribers and for the participants of our Winter Wellness workshop.
In order to improve the soil on our borrowed land, we are taking extreme measures. We have a game plan filled with cover cropping (soil protection), chop and drop (adding nitrogen) and growing tap root crops (breaking up compaction) for that garden space. While we are currently trying to create more raised beds on our hilly, rocky land for our 2023 crops, we are officially taking the borrowed land out of production next year. It will be more important than ever to purchase our subscription boxes to ensure you have access to our products, as quantities are sure to be limited for at least the next year.
I guess this is what people mean when they speak of growing pains. The more products we sell, the more we have to grow and with that comes all kinds of new challenges. We cannot thank you enough for your continued support and understanding while we do our very best to keep your apothecary cabinets stocked.