The first step in helping our Well Earth partner north central Oregon expand their organic peppermint production was to conduct extensive field trials. We provided the funds for the season-long trials that began with planting in the spring and ended with quality assessments of the harvest taking place in July and August.

The trials were conducted on 102 acres of land along the Columbia River that had been recently converted to certified organic agriculture. It's considered high desert area, with dry conditions and high winds. With irrigation from the Columbia River, it’s an ideal environment for growing mint.

But while there was confidence this land would be productive, trials were needed to assess the factors of weed control, water usage and plant quality.

The results of the trials were very positive in all respects. Hand-sifted samples of the field trials were sent to the Frontier Co-op Quality Lab for evaluation. The mint quality was outstanding and superior to other organic fields in the area. Weeds were not a problem, which kept production costs down and allowed for even higher yields.

Given the success of the trials, we were able to go full-speed ahead with increasing the production of organic peppermint to meet our growing demand.

We also supported the supplier in improving the drying of these items by helping fund a mechanized dryer. The faster, better drying further increases the quality of the peppermint.

We were encouraged by the success of this Well Earth project and have continued working with the supplier on trials and production of more other quality domestically produced organic herbs in the Pacific Northwest.