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US (CO): Fresh Herb Company makes leap from vegetables to flowers

The Anderson family, Chet, Kristy, and sons Chet and Nick, have run The Fresh Herb Company in Boulder County, Colorado, for over 30 years. Founded in 1983, the business began in a rented greenhouse and has since blossomed into one of the region’s premier ornamental operations.

In the early years, The Fresh Herb Company produced fresh cut culinary herbs for restaurants in the Boulder/Denver area. The business grew slowly but steadily. Sensing that the business had potential, the Andersons bought a farm on the bank of Left Hand Creek in Northern Boulder County Colorado and moved the family and the once rented greenhouse to the farm.

Production soon expanded to include a wide variety of specialty produce items. Twice per week, the trucks were packed with the likes of baby beets, turnips, carrots, and a host of specialty greens, lettuces, chicories, and herbs and delivered to a growing customer base of restaurants and grocery stores. Tractors and equipment were bought and new greenhouses were erected. Production was again expanded to include some of the very first baby salad greens available in the country. Tens of thousands of pounds of perfectly cut, washed, and packed “Great Greens" sustained the business through the 1990’s.

By 2001, the salad green business had become very competitive and the Anderson family again sensed that it was time for a change. They sold the salad business and all of the related equipment. They began to grow cut flowers, what had at one time been a Colorado specialty due to its high altitude light, warm days, and cool evenings.

Today, The Fresh Herb Company grows hanging baskets and certified organic herb plants in their 15,000 square-foot Nexus greenhouse for Spring sales and then shifts its greenhouse production to Asiatic and Oriental lilies from June through December.

The growing fields, which were once planted with vegetables, are now planted in row after row of spectacular specialty cut flowers including peonies, phlox, veronica, kniphofia, scabiosa, solidago, sunflowers, amaranth, liatris, crocosmia, and ornamental grasses.

The Fresh Herb Company supplies its herb plants, hanging baskets, straight flowers bunches and bouquets to all of the Whole Foods stores in the Rocky Mountain region as well as a number of local grocery stores and wholesale florists.

The Andersons credit the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG) for helping them make the leap from vegetables to flowers. The ASCFG is a trade organization which supports growers with a wealth of cultural and business information via its annual conferences and quarterly publications.

The Andersons also credit Premier Tech Horticulture for helping them work through their varied growing media needs. The Fresh Herb Company uses PRO-MIX® MYCORRHIZAE™ for their basket, lily, and flower propagation needs and uses PRO-MIX® MYCORRHIZAE™ ORGANIK™ products for their certified organic herb plant program. Chet cites the near perfect porosity of PRO-MIX® MYCORRHIZAE™ for the outstanding quality of his baskets and crate-grown lilies and likes PRO-MIX® MYCORRHIZAE™ ORGANIK™ products for their performance in what can be a difficult category. Chet has trialed a number of organic mixes for Premier Tech Horticulture and appreciates its technical staff’s efforts to continue to improve the organic growing media family to meet their various media needs.

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