Making Dreams Come True

Lou and Lori had an interesting journey to get to where they are now. As a young family, they soon realized they had a common dream.  Lou, from since he can remember, always wanted to be a farmer. Lori grew up on her grandparent’s farm in Illinois and wanted that “grounding“ experience in her life again. Albert, now in his teens, started creating an imaginary farm life when he was a toddler.

After the recession of 2009-10 Lou filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy (boy was that a learning experience), the family decided “life is short, lets fulfill our family dream”. They found a farm that fit their needs in 2013, purchased it and turned it Organic. 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 Florida’s Panhandle. The Yaupon grows wild and it is USDA Certified Organic Wild Harvested Yaupon. This is the source of our Yaupon.

Lou, Lori and Albert love to share their farm experience with friends, family & others.  It’s not fancy, it’s a real farm! (Well, Lori has added a few fancy parts.)  The farms are part of their  ‘regenerative ago-forestry”  mission. They’d love to tell you more.

Yaupon Research at Temples Farm, Metter, GA

At Temple’s Farm in Metter, Georgia, 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 regarding the best practices for growing Yaupon by experimenting cultivation under different fertilization protocols, soil types, shade conditions and more. Through this research, the health benefits and phytochemistry of Yaupon are being validated. Lou propagated over 10,000 wild selected Yaupon plants which represents the first attempt to adapt Yaupon, a wild plant, into a traditional row crop model.

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. By understanding how Yaupon compounds express themselves, we may understand what nutrients promote leaf size, taste profiles, compound levels and more.

Temple’s Farm is also where Lori has created perma-culture garden filled with other Medicinal plants and native fruits.

Yaupon Regenerative Agriculture at Long Leaf Pine Tree Farm, Florida Panhandle

When searching for a place to harvest Yaupon, this particular farm spoke to Lou and Lori because Yaupon was harmoniously co-existing with the Long Leaf Pine trees.  But also, because the typical herbicide and burning practices used in the timber industry were never carried out here, resulting in organic soil.  The Long Leaf Pine and Yaupon are both species native to the area and thrive in the same soils and environment.  What’s more, the Long Leaf Pines provide shade from the harsh sun which 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 & environmentally clean model for our Yaupon supply chain.

The local impact of this farm is far-reaching:

  • Creating jobs in rural communities
  • Paying living wages in rural counties
  • Creating a sustainable & regenerative agricultural operation
  • Celebrating our Native Foodways
  • Partnering with the American Indian College Fund, to which we donate money and hope 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 new, state-of-the-art, 6000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. This is the first ever plant designed to harvest, clean, dry, roast, sift and grind Yaupon.  Here, techs who work with Scientists at universities are developing methods for processing Yaupon with the goal of maintaining the integrity of Yaupon’s natural compounds.  Our facility will be a SQF Level II facility practicing GACP (Good Agriculture and Collection Practice for sustainable wild collection).

Yaupon Tea & Wellness Co. is working with herbal consultants to develop our GMPs and processing lines to create the best Yaupon product in the marketplace.