Four Elements Herbal Farm was awarded nearly $300,000 in a Value-Added Producer Grant from the USDA to bag their loose herbal teas and expand their market, local farmer and herbalist Jane Hawley Stevens announced.
Hawley Stevens and her husband, David Stevens, a UW forestry employee, have had the certified organic farm on 130 acres of fields, prairie and woodlands in the pristine Baraboo hills since 1991.
Their loose teas and other herbal healthcare products are currently available locally and online. The new, bagged tea product will be available in fall of 2012.
'Herbalists prefer their tea loose, but 85% of the people want their tea in bags. This will help fulfill my mission of bringing the healing herbs to the people!' said Hawley Stevens, a well-known and respected herbal lecturer.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl commended their commitment to sustainable agriculture.
'At a time when the number of family farms is declining, your farm's emphasis on high-quality, organic herbs connects the proud traditions of family-scale farming with the tastes of today's consumer,' he said. 'It is because of growers like you that Wisconsin's long, proud tradition of excellence in agriculture continues.'
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in her USDA blog that the grants 'provide economic assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups by creating value-added products when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.'
A Celebration Open House and Tea Tasting Kick-off will be held at the farm on Saturday, June 9 from noon to 4 p.m. Free guided tours will be given by Jane and David at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. featuring organic growing techniques, herbs and their uses, tea tastings and a hayride to the woods. Organic teas, herb plants and herbal products will be available for sale.
Located one hour north of Madison at E8984 Weinke Road, North Freedom, in Sauk County, WI 53951.
More information is located at www.fourelementsherbals.com.
The Value-added Producer Grants program was authorized by the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000 and amended by the 2002 farm bill (P.L.107-171, Sec. 6401). The farm bill authorizes $40 million per year in grants for the development and marketing of value-added agricultural products, including organic agricultural production. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.