For as long as he can remember, Lou always wanted to be a farmer. Lori grew up on her grandparents' farm in Illinois and yearned for that grounding experience in her life again. Their son Albert, now a teenager, created an imaginary farm life when he was a toddler.
Following the 2009 recession, the family agreed that life was short and they should fulfill their family dream of buying a farm. They found a farm that fit their needs in 2013, and transformed Temples Farm in Metter, Georgia into an organic farm. Lou planted Yaupon, Lori created a permaculture orchard and herb garden and Albert became a true outdoorsman. In 2017, they purchased a 270-acre Long Leaf tree farm in the Florida Panhandle, the farm that sources the business's USDA Certified Organic Wild Harvested Yaupon. Both farms are part of Lou and Lori's regenerative ago-forestry mission.
At Temples Farm pioneering research on Yaupon is being carried out. In partnership with universities, through a Small Business Innovation Grant (Phase II SBIR-USDA), research is being conducted on best practices for growing Yaupon by experimenting with cultivation under different fertilization protocols, soil types and shade conditions. Through this research, the health benefits and phytochemistry of Yaupon are being validated. Lou has propagated over 10,000 wild selected Yaupon plants at Temples Farm, the first attempt to adapt Yaupon, a wild plant, into a traditional row crop. Additionally, preliminary work has begun on mapping the Yaupon gene tree. Understanding the genetics may lead to an eventual breeding program to promote medicinal chemical markers.
Yaupon Regenerative Agriculture at Long Leaf Pine Tree Farm, Florida Panhandle
When searching for a place to harvest Yaupon, this farm spoke to Lou and Lori because Yaupon was harmoniously co-existing with the Long Leaf Pine trees and because the typical herbicide and burning practices used in the timber industry had never been carried out, thus preserving the organic soil. The Long Leaf Pine and Yaupon are both species native to the area and thrive in the same soils and environment, and the Long Leaf Pines provide a shade from the harsh sun that is conducive to Yaupon’s growth.
Replanting efforts are underway to maintain the iconic southern Long Leaf Pine tree which once created the most diverse bio-ecosystem in North America. By leaving the wild Yaupon under the Long Leaf Pines, both native species flourish and provide a sustainable and environmentally clean model for our Yaupon supply chain.
Some of the local impacts of this farm include:
- Job creation and living wages in rural communities
- A sustainable and regenerative agricultural operation
- Celebrating our native foodways
- Partnering with the American Indian College Fund, to which Yaupon Teahouse charitably donates, and hopes to develop a scientific research based intern program and scholarship
- Creating protocol for growing a wild, native crop for rural farming communities
Yaupon Processing, Florida Panhandle
Adjacent to the Long Leaf Pine farm is a state-of-the-art 6000 square foot manufacturing facility. This is the first facility ever designed to harvest, clean, dry, roast, sift and grind Yaupon. The manufacturing techs, in partnership with university scientists, are developing methods for processing Yaupon with the goal of maintaining the integrity of Yaupon’s natural compounds. Our facility is a SQF Level II facility practicing GACP (Good Agriculture and Collection Practice for sustainable wild collection). Yaupon Teahouse and Apothecary is working with herbal consultants to develop our GMPs and processing lines to create the best Yaupon product in the marketplace.