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Smoot’s Flavor Farm: Growing a Greener Future Through Herbal Farming

An Herbal Endeavor

In the heart of the countryside, at the root of Smoot Hill, sits Smoot’s Flavor Farm, an idyllic one-acre herbal farm and a shining example of sustainable agriculture. Founder Lindsay Myron, a mother of two, established Smoot’s Flavor Farm, a woman-owned and operated herbal farm, on the rolling hills of the Palouse in 2019. Specializing in culinary and tea herbs grown using organic practices, Lindsay's journey into eco-agriculture and herb farming is deeply rooted in her passion for climate change and environmental conservation. With a strong commitment to sustainable farming methods and a passion for organic farming, Lindsay has created a space where flavor and ecology go hand in hand, producing high-quality, delicious products while nurturing the land and promoting biodiversity. 

“Our geographical location is perfect for growing these crops, given the climate. We're committed to organic practices, even without official certification, to provide natural, healthy products to our customers. Through sustainability and passion for climate change resilience, Smoot Flavor Farm aims to be a role model for others in the agricultural industry. We want to inspire more farmers to embrace ecological practices." 

 

Rooted in Sustainability 

Smoot's Flavor Farm, located in Pullman, WA, cultivates more than 40 flavorful, sustainably grown culinary and tea herbs. Their offerings range from classics like oregano, basil, and mint to hard-to-find rarities like epazote, anise hyssop, and fenugreek. In addition to fresh and dried herbs, they also produce flavorful crops like garlic and rhubarb. Born and raised in Pullman, Washington, Lindsay was keenly aware of the region's limited water resources which led her to focus on growing sustainable herbs. By choosing crops that require less water and fertilizer, Lindsay aligned her farm with eco-friendly practices, ensuring minimal ecological impact.  

Smoot’s Flavor Farm's motto: Founded on flavor. Focused on quality. Conscientious of our ecology. Beyond their premium herbs, in-depth profiles are included with each product to educate clients. Smoot’s Flavor Farm also believe in the transformative power of a good meal. Their flavorful herbs serve as inspiration for home-cooking with recipes available on the site. Second only to client satisfaction, the farm strives to create a healthy, balanced agricultural ecosystem, making decisions with ecology in mind. Smoot's Flavor Farm's success is a result of their firm belief in these principles, showcasing their remarkable journey towards providing exceptional culinary experiences while championing sustainability. 

“I believe in a community-oriented approach, collaborating with others to create solutions or address challenges. We’ve seen a growing demand for sustainably grown herbs. Our diverse clientele includes farmers' market attendees, chefs, caterers, and food hubs. It's incredible to see our herbs resonate with so many people.” 

Seeds of Change 

Despite not growing up on a farm, Lindsay had always loved the outdoors and felt significantly tied to the earth. She recalled a pivotal moment in her teen years that changed the course of her life: a viewing of “An Inconvenient Truth”. The 2006 award-winning documentary unveils the daunting reality of climate change. This cinematic encounter ignited Lindsay's interest in environmental sustainability. In 2011, she followed her passion to Cornell University, earning a degree in natural resources and plant sciences. driven by an unwavering desire to confront our planet's pressing environmental challenges head-on. After graduating, Lindsay gained a strong interest in agriculture and realized that eco-agriculture could be a major step towards promoting sustainability and conservation efforts globally. This realization marked a turning point in Lindsay’s career, solidifying her commitment to making a positive impact through sustainable farming practices.  

Lindsay spent years volunteering abroad and working for a series of non-profit organizations. She leveraged her expertise in geographic information systems (GIS) and data management to contribute to environmental research and conservation projects, including a program at Washington State University. When Lindsay returned to Pullman to be closer to her family, she met her husband, a local farmer. To Lindsay, it was a sign. With a strong background in natural resources and a deep understanding of sustainable practices, Lindsay was well-equipped to transition from a career focused on environmental conservation to becoming a successful farmer. 

“I wanted to address climate change at its roots. I was looking at how we can sustainably use our resources, how to keep these ecosystems intact and support human livelihoods. I really felt like agriculture could be a part of the solution to climate change. What better way to dive in than marrying a farmer?”

 Planting Resilience  

Marrying into an agricultural family presented another challenge for Lindsay: gender roles within the farm business. Lindsay had worked abroad for years, paving her way, and passionate in her commitment to a sustainable future. The generations of traditional norms in farming were new to her, and women were rarely asked to work in the fields beyond a seasonal harvest. With her academic and professional background, as well as her fierce drive, Lindsay was unsure of how to carve her own path within the traditional industry. There was some push back, but Lindsay was ultimately able to work on the farm full-time, signaling a potential change in the agriculture sector.  

“As a woman in agriculture, it can be tough. When I first started, it was challenging to establish my identity on the family farm. Two generations ago, women weren’t even allowed to work the farm.  I faced resistance, but I was determined to find my place. It was a big deal, an opportunity that I was allowed to work with them full-time. But I wanted my own space, I wanted to be more than just a farm wife. I think that was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.” 

Lindsay and her husband were also starting to grow their family. She knew it would be difficult to fulfill her role as a full-time mom if she was working in the fields. Lindsay was able to secure a one-acre plot on the family farm thanks to her strong support system. Lindsay says she was inspired by a broader goal of promoting diversity as a fundamental attribute of resilience on the farm.  She recognized how vital diversification is in agricultural systems and how those principles related to the ecology of crops and growing practices. "Diversification is a key principle of sustainable agriculture. It’s in the ecology of what you're growing, how you're growing it, the markets you serve, and even the social structure. It helps us reduce our reliance on single crops, promotes soil health, and fosters a balanced ecosystem.” 

Ecosystem of Support 

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19, Lindsay felt motivated to steward resiliency on the farm. Due to Lindsay’s background in agricultural research, she saw the potential of vertical integration. She pivoted her business strategy, recognizing the need to adapt to evolving market conditions and changing customer preferences. She began to venture into value-added products and processing which could open new opportunities while ensuring the farm's sustainability. Taking a community-oriented approach, Lindsay reached out to professors at the Washington State University. She asked for assistance in creating a walk-in climate-controlled drying chamber for her farm. She discovered that the mechanical engineering major's capstone class offered an opportunity for students to work on real-world problems with companies. Lindsay submitted a proposal, inviting a group of undergraduate seniors to design the facility.  

"Conservation is about leaving our planet a better place for our kids. I’m so inspired by the youth today. They couldn't build it due to COVID, but they designed and selected the necessary equipment. They even helped model the airflow for the chamber. Drying herbs is quite a science; if done too quickly, it can cause quality issues like mold. The students assisted in modeling the chamber to ensure a slow and even airflow, prioritizing energy efficiency. They did an exceptional job.” 

Lindsay's commitment to building strong relationships with her community can also be found in her CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. Understanding the difficulty for farmers to secure capital, Lindsay implemented a CSA model to bridge this gap. The program allows members of the community to invest in her farm by prepaying for a share of its produce. Members receive a weekly, curated bouquet of fresh herbs along with recipes and suggestions for using the products. Lindsay says it’s also an introduction for some to lesser-known varieties of herbs. She hopes to encourage a deeper connection with the food they consume. "I love exploring cultures and histories through the diversity of food. Searching for herbs originating from various parts of the world that we can cultivate here. I love sharing these discoveries with my customers and inspiring them to experiment in their kitchens." 

Tending the Garden 

As a data-driven, risk-averse individual, Lindsay says even calculated risks were intimidating as a new business owner. Agriculture can be unpredictable. With the demands of running a business and raising a family, Lindsay needed the time management and organizational skills to maintain a balanced lifestyle. That’s when Lindsay discovered the Profiting From Your Pivot program through Business Impact NW. Profiting From Your Pivot is a six-month partnership program between Business Impact NW and the WA State Dept of Agriculture. The program offered growers a bundle of services and resources that they could tailor to fit their needs. These included access to a bookkeeper and marketing expert, farm mentors who gave topical presentations and peer-to-peer support, GAP audit preparation, and own one-on-one business coaching. Lindsay says the program and resources enabled her to refine her business strategy and marketing approach.  

“It was hands down the best decision I’ve made as a business owner. It was a pivotal moment and the program helped reframe my vision and direction. Working with business experts offered fresh perspectives and practical strategies I’ve used to apply for grants. I better understand production costs and pricing. I loved the peer mentorship aspect and connecting with other farmers. One person was in the same situation, switching to value-added for his family’s orchard. You can learn so much from peers across the region.”

Harvesting Success 

Food Business Resource Center Coach and Trainer, Maya Rose, says Lindsay was incredibly driven, bringing joyful enthusiasm and great energy every step of the way. Lindsay’s priorities included strengthening her e-commerce infrastructure, marketing her value-added products, and optimizing her product offerings to meet demand. Despite the stress of welcoming a new baby into the family, Lindsay recognized the areas that needed the most assistance. She received specialized marketing support from expert Tad Richardson. Because of Lindsay's interest in crop-specific cost analysis, Maya invited Lindsay to join the "Know Your Cost to Grow" program hosted by OSU and OR Tilth, led by Tanya Murray. This program aims to help growers determine their production costs, enabling them to make more informed business decisions. As every farm business has unique needs, participants can personalize their path through the program. That includes customizing and receiving services based on their individual goals. 

“Programs that allow for customization mean that the more engaged a participant is, the more resources, shifts, and helpful nuggets they can walk away with. It’s perfect for entrepreneurs like Lindsay. Winter is an ideal time to hunker down on strategic planning for the season ahead. My advice for any interested farm businesses, gather a good team of supportive folks around you and take advantage of opportunities like these. 

Nurturing a Greener Tomorrow 

Lindsay's inspiring journey embodies the spirit of resilience, determination, and sustainability. Her passion for climate change resilience and community engagement sets her apart as a role model for other farmers. Lindsay says she's working on finding a balance between her farming and family life. She plans to step back from summer markets to focus on drying herbs, creating new products. Then she'll prep for the fall and winter markets. In the future, she hopes to reach beyond the local farmers' markets and diversify her revenue streams. This includes increasing online sales, tapping into regional markets, and direct shipping of value-added products like dried herbs. “For me, it's not just about profit; it's about creating a balanced life. I want to farm and also have time for family and other things I'm passionate about. It's about finding that harmony. On the farm, there’s always next year.” 

For aspiring farmers and entrepreneurs, Lindsay highlights the importance of seeking out available resources. Building connections can provide valuable guidance and knowledge to navigate the challenges of starting and running a farm. She also encourages aspiring farmers to embrace community engagement, a community-oriented approach is key to the success of a business.  

“In agriculture, there's a wide and welcoming community of people who genuinely want you to succeed. It's about being motivated to identify your knowledge gaps and seeking the resources to bridge them. I found valuable support from universities and the Food Business Resource Center at Business Impact NW. Connecting with fellow farmers and pursuing apprenticeships has been extremely beneficial. Moreover, I've learned a lot from my customers by being open to their feedback. Ultimately, their opinions matter, making it vital to listen and be receptive to what they have to say.” 

About the author

Janelle is a storyteller through and through. She was raised in a family of entrepreneurs who owned and managed a series of small businesses, including a Hawaiian restaurant, a video store, and several real estate properties. Growing up in a low-income community but attending schools as a minority in affluent areas, she struggled with the inequities she faced each day.

Janelle graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, specializing in screenwriting and playwriting. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and has remained steadfast in her commitment to using her craft to support the missions of each organization, and uplift underserved communities throughout the Bay Area.

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