Medicinal Herb Processing
Grant Award: $6,000
Gabriel has built an herb dryer and processing area so that he can sell medicinal herbs throughout the year, benefiting from the higher market value of herbs in the non-harvest season. He renovated a shipping container, added a propane heater, wiring, ductwork, vents, fans and doors, as well as purchased a grinder to process the herbs.
“Properly dried, medicinal herbs are a shelf-stable, value-added farm product that can be packaged and processed into herbal products from tea to toothpaste, essences to ointments, and everything in between,” Gabriel said. “Imported herbs have a number of concerns that have driven consumers of this country to demand U.S. grown herbs. Concerns stem from chemical contamination, lack of traceability, irradiated material, cultivar differences, quality, and political and humane practices.”
Gabriel built his own dryer because he had not been able to find a commercially available herb dryer appropriate for his small operational scale. Herb dryers need to cook at a low temperature, slowly releasing water from the plant so it maintains its chemical constituents that lend its high quality medicinal value.
Pangaea Plants is a 24-acre diverse family farm, growing a variety of vegetables and perennial medicinal herbs as well as wildcrafting herbs. The farm is certified Biodynamic (the first and only certified Biodynamic farm in WNC), Organic and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The farm recently grew watermelons and winter squash to the Buncombe School District, reaching 25,000 children.