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jane--hawleyMy guest today is Jane Hawley Stevens, Founder of Four Elements Organic Herbals. From the time Jane chose her professional path, it was clear it was with the plant world. For over 30 years she has specialized in herbs. Four Elements Herbals began in 1987 as the pursuit of Jane’s dream to establish a family farm and continue her horticultural career while raising a family. Jane started producing herbal products made from herbs she grew on her farm. Certified organic since 1990, she still grows and produces herbal products from the 130-acre farm in the pristine Baraboo Bluffs of Wisconsin, designated as one of the Last Great Places by the Nature Conservancy. Her products are inspired by the healing qualities of herbs and align with the power of Nature. They are available online and at health food stores and supermarkets throughout the Midwest.






The Healing Power of Organic Herbs

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd

Guest: Jane Hawley Stevens

Date of Broadcast: September 08, 2015

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic free.

It’s Tuesday, September 8, 2015. I’m here in Clearwater, Florida. And we’re having a pretty big thunderstorm right now. So if you hear any rumbling in the background, I have a pretty sensitive mic. If you hear any rumbling in the background, it’s thunder and lightning.

Actually, I live in place that is one of the extreme weather capitals, actually, on the whole planet. We get a lot of thunderstorms. It’s been raining every day for the past month. So there’s a lot going on here.

It’s also the day after labor day. And so that’s the end of summer. We’re all back from vacation. Everybody is starting school, going back to our jobs. So there’s a lot of activity going on.

One of the things that’s happening that I just had to tell you about is that the state of California has filed an intent to declare that glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in RoundUp, which is sprayed on GMO foods, they filed this declaration to declare it as a cause of cancer.

Now, what the means in the state of California is that if a product contains an ingredient that causes cancer, according to proposition 65, it has to contain a warning label. There has to be a warning label on the product that says, “This product contains an ingredient known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

So this is going to be very interesting to me to see what happens about food products now that contain GMO ingredients. Are they going to get the proposition 65 cancer warning label? This is very, very interesting.

So today, here I’m back after – last week, I didn’t do any live shows. But this week, we’ve got live shows. I’ve actually got my schedule for guests for the whole entire month of September already booked. People are really excited about being on the show. I’m really excited about having them on. It’s a whole new year. It’s a whole new year.

So my guest today, we’re going to talk about something we’ve never talked about before on the show and that is herbs and their power to heal and using herbs in personal care, healing products.

My guest today is Jane Hawley Stevens. She’s the founder of Four Elements Organic Herbals. It’s a beautiful website and we’re going to learn all about herbal products today.

Hi, Jane.


DEBRA: I’m so happy to have you on. I love your website.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Thank you so much. I am so happy to be the first one to be talking about herbs on Toxic Free Talk Radio. It’s such an appropriate subject to be talking about.

DEBRA: I think so too because one of the things that I’m very aware of is that there’s a whole spectrum, and on one end is very, very toxic, and on the other end is totally pure and wonderful. But there’s a whole gradation of things that you could just move in the direction away from very toxic and slightly toxic or not toxic, I think. But non-toxic would be the middle of the scale, zero, where there’s no positive effect to no negative effect.

But then you can cross that point and start having things that have no harm and have tremendously, wonderful, beneficial effects.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, like they have then for thousands of years.

DEBRA: Yes. So tell us how you got interested in herbs. Tell us about yourself. You’ve got this large farm, 138 acres, I think it was. So tell us how you got interested in this.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: So when I was a child, my grandmother used to take me out in the woods in Northern Wisconsin. I’m here in Wisconsin. We’re known for the natural beauty in this state.

So when I had to pick a career, I realized I just was happy as outside, remembering those days when my grandmother would take me out in the woods to pick blueberries. So I just realized my career should be outside.

So I chose horticulture as a career. I went to school at University of Wisconsin Madison. I got my horticulture degree. And my first job out of school, they asked me to put in an herb garden.

So I was first introduced to herbs for garden design. I learned about how they grew and handled them well that way. And then I learned about using them for crafts and cooking. But then when my son was born in ’87, I started making remedies for the family.

I just approached it even like folklore. I didn’t really know how they worked or anything. But when I saw that they were healing my family, my son, quicker than my friends who were taking their kids to the doctor, quicker and more effectively, with less side effects and less recurrences, I just had to learn more and more about this.

So it has become my passion and my path since really 1981 to study herbs and how they heal us.

DEBRA: I really think that if we want to heal our bodies (and our bodies certainly need healing in today’s world), if we want to heal our bodies, the best thing to do is to look to nature for that because I do think that there’s a synergy between herbs and plants and animals and humans, just the whole natural world functions as this one whole.

And to step outside of that and say, “Okay, we’re going to use something synthesized in a laboratory like a drug,” and expect that to do what a living thing does like an herb, they are just two different things.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, they are two different things. And what herbs have (which drugs don’t) is hundreds or thousands of years of use and proving that it works well and it works on how many different people and cultures that these plants have worked.

In fact, for some plants that we use for healing, they have been used in different cultures in different times and have been recorded for the exact same use. So that’s a proof that those plants worked.

Personally, I’m in the camp that I don’t even need scientific proof anymore because I have seen so much. Although it’s beautiful we have science available to us for those who really want science to prove things, but I just see plants do so many wonderful things and healing. It’s just phenomenal. In a way more balanced way than drugs do.

DEBRA: Well, I do think that our own personal observation is just as valid as the observation of a scientist, especially if we’re – I mean, scientists are mostly looking at modern technology and chemicals and things like that. It’s not to say that scientists don’t look at plants because some do, but I think that each one of us can certainly observe with our own senses if our body is getting better by doing something or if our body is getting worse.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Right! And another thing that we’re lacking in this culture is even to trust our own senses and our intuition. That’s a message I’d like to be putting out there too. We’re all born with intuition. There’s nothing in our culture that really supports that.

So it’s using herbs, it is really great to listen to your own business. Two, you need to know what herb you’re – well, that’s the one of the really fun things about herbs. It makes you look closely at your body and look up in a good herb book what can help heal you and make that connection and really help in self-healing, which I think is just so important these days.

DEBRA: If somebody is wanting to heal themselves with herbs, should they be going to a professional who knows what they’re doing in order to get those herbal remedies? Or can people look it up in a book on how there are herbs that people should watch out for that might not have positive effects?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: I think both. If you’re dealing with a really chronic, big situation and you want to go to nature for healing, thankfully, there are so many trained professionals out there. Naturopaths and acupuncturists are both trained in herbalism. And so, those are two places to go.

But for every day, common problems that pop up, I think to have a good herb book like anything by David Hoffman or Rosemary Gladstar, I would recommend. Having an herb book is just key. And even if you could grow even five plants or so, you could do amazing things for your family’s health and your health.

DEBRA: That’s great. We need to go to break. But when we come back, let’s talk more about how you can grow your own herbs.

I would like to hear more about that and which herbs actually we should be using. What are those five basic herbs that we could grow in our own backyards?

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Jane Hawley Stevens. She’s the founder of Four Elements Organic Herbals. When we come back, we’ll hear more about how we can grow our own herbs and also, how she’s growing herbs and her herbal products.

We’ll be right back.

DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Jane Hawley Stevens. We’re talking about herbs. We’re about to talk about growing herbs.

But I just want to say the sun is coming out. No more thunder, so I think we’re fine. We’re not going to get disconnected or anything.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: That’s good. Nice to have rain too, but it sounds like you’ve had plenty.

DEBRA: We’ve had plenty. So what I did last week instead of doing radio shows live was I was working very intensively in my garden. And when I lived in California, I had a beautiful, organic garden, and then I moved to Florida and everything is different. I didn’t garden at all last year. But I want to garden this winter.

And here, we garden over the winter because if in the summer time, it’s too hot. And you probably did the opposite in Wisconsin where it’s very cold in the winter time.


DEBRA: So I’m about to start planting for my growing season. So tell me what are the herbs that I should plant and what they’ll do for me.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: So I have a list that I work with in Wisconsin, but I think they would work well in Florida. I did live in Texas for six years where I first started my business and grew herbs.

So my number one favorite herb is lemon balm. Lemon balm, the Latin name is Melissa officinalis. And whenever you see ‘officinalis’ as the species of a plant, it means that it was a traditional healing plant when the plants were named in the 1700s.

But lemon balm not only is easy to grow, it’s a perennial. It smells really good. You get a lot of volume per one plant even. And it’s so easy to harvest and it tastes delicious.

Not only that, it has such wonderful healing qualities. It has been proven to shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms of cold sores, so it has antiviral quality.

My favorite use is that it’s very calming on the nerves. It’s called a nervine and it really helps to calm you down for anxiety, stress. And it’s said to even impart joy. And when you smell it, you would – it’s very believable because it’s just so sweet and delightful.

So it’s good for all those reasons and good for digestion, and probably a whole lot more. This plant just does about everything. I like to travel with it to keep me calm and healthy. So that’s just a great one.

DEBRA: So how would you incorporate that in taking it? Would you make a tea out of it, or what would you do with it?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, you can make – the most traditional way to use herbs is either in tea or just eating them. But lemon balm is such a delightful tea. What you do is just – you can pick it fresh or dry it for when it’s not growing, and put it in a teapot or a cord canning jar.

Just loosely fill the jar with lemon balm that you had picked fresh, pour boiling water over that, seal it so the volatile oils don’t escape, which contain a lot of the flavors. So then you keep that nice lemon-y flavor in the jar. And then just let it steep for 10 minutes or so, and then you can start enjoying your tea.

And the same is true for other herbs that we’re going to talk about that are either the leaves or the flower portion of the plant.

If we get in to talking about roots, barks or seeds, that’s when you have to simmer the plant a little bit in order to get the qualities to come out of the tissues. They’re a little more firmly bound in leaves, barks and seeds.

So another great one would be chamomile, and chamomile is similar to lemon balm in the way that it’s calming. It’s actually even more calming. I even think of it as more sleep-inducing. I wouldn’t drink a chamomile tea unless I’m having a really, really stressful day, or if it’s later in the day and I wanted to help me go to sleep.

I used to make chamomile tea for my kids when they were sick because it’s calming and it’s antiseptic, slightly antiseptic, so it helps to kick out infection. It helps with digestion. It has some bitter qualities in it. So it’s good to have for anyone just to help aid their digestion.

We don’t think of bitter so much in this country for digestion, but it really helps to aid digestion by eating a little or having a tea that has a little bit of bitter quality in it because it just gets your whole digestion going. Maybe we can talk about that more later because now we’re talking about the best herbs to grow.

And again, with chamomile, you would collect some flowers, and the more you pick them, the more they’re going to produce.

So I Wisconsin, we pick them twice a week, or maybe three times a week, and they don’t like the real, strong heat. So they like, for us, they come up with lettuces in Wisconsin that would be in May when it’s still cool out. And then when it starts getting hot in August, they’re done. They go away. So we just chill them under and put a cover grub in this past weekend on that.

So in Florida, they’d be the first thing that you’d plant. Just think of them as when you plant lettuce, whenever you plant lettuce in whatever region you’re in.

So then I think sage is a really great plant because of how strongly antiseptic it is. That one you should – it likes good drainage. It’s a Mediterranean plant. It doesn’t mean it likes to be bone dry, but where it’s planted, it needs to be well-drained, which I think Florida would provide a good kind of soil type, if you added some organic matter to your – I know it’s kind of shelly in your – isn’t it?

DEBRA: Yes, it is. But I just want to mention that we have about 45 seconds, so we need to go to break.

So tell us what the other –

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Okay, sage and then because it’s antiseptic and it’s really good for cooking and for tea. And Echinacea is such a great beautiful plant. It adds a lot of beauty to your garden, and it’s great for boosting the immune system, and you can use the flowers, the leaves, and the root on the Echinacea.

DEBRA: Let’s say that’s one, two, three, four. You have a fifth one?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: I love elderberry or nettles. Let me see. I guess I’ll just pick holy basil.

DEBRA: I love holy basil.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: It’s really gaining popularity in America, and it’s traditional in India, also known as tulsi or tulsi, as they say in India. And it’s delicious in a tea. And it’s what I’m drinking right now. It’s great for clarity, for keeping you healthy, it tastes delicious, and it’s an –

DEBRA: And it lowers your blood sugar.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: It helps you cope with stress.

DEBRA: Blood sugar too. It lowers blood sugar, if people have elevated blood sugar.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, just so many wonderful things.

DEBRA: We’re going to go to break, and when we come back, we’re going to talk more with Jane Hawley Stevens. She’s the founder of Four Elements Organic Herbs. Her website is And when we come back, we’re going to find out all about her farm and her plants.

We’ll be right back.

DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Jane. Jane, I’ve forgotten your whole name. Here we go. Jane Hawley Stevens.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: I’m happy to be with you today, Debra.

DEBRA: Things happened during the break, and I have all the information just right here on a window on my computer screen. And if I’m looking at something else, and I come back during the break, it’s like, “What’s her name?”

Jane Hawley Stevens. And her website is

So you have this very large, certified organic farm. Tell us about your farm and about what it’s like to get certified organic. Why is that an important thing?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Well, my farm is situated in a beautiful area called the Baraboo Bluffs, which the Nature Conservancy considers one of the last great places because there are so many woodlands here that are undeveloped, mainly, because it’s very rocky.

So I have, I think, the good fortune of seeing wildlife up here like last Christmas, I got to see a cougar running on my way to my Christmas party, and we have really great wildlife.

So it’s really in the wild. It’s very beautiful and pristine that way. And I was fortunate enough to find this farm, one of the last good deals in the Bluffs, 130 acres.

At the time, I had already had my business, and I was certified organic in my other location of three acres. And really, this was such a gift to me because I was looking for just five acres or any place at all I could continue my business. But this was a place that I found and it was just because of the circumstances, I was able to get it for a really good deal.

So that’s very cool, and it’s just so beautiful, and like I said, pristine.

DEBRA: There’s a great picture of it on your website. Listeners, you should go to her website,, and on the homepage, there’s a little slideshow, and one of them is her farm, and it’s just so beautiful.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, you can see how it’s surrounded by nature, not agriculture. So that’s a really good thing.

So my husband and I both have horticulture degrees from UW Madison, and so I also had this vision of having a small family farm, and it was my interest in herbs that grew into this line of herbal products.

We do grow the herbs that go into the products. We make teas, tinctures, creams, lip balms, soaps, salves, all different herbal products.

The Tea Project is a more demanding with the quantity of herbs, and I did find a certified organic herb farmer in Minnesota who has more equipment than I do. So I’m able to buy some of my herbs from him. But because my real passion is growing plants and also how they’re used, we still like to grow almost everything right here.

DEBRA: That’s just wonderful. I know having grown plants myself, herbs and flowers, and food, and even here in Florida, I have these little pots outside my backdoor where I grow various herbs like – culinary herbs I grow. So I’m not looking at them medicinally, but to have something like fresh parsley and fresh chives, and my very favorite, herb is pineapple sage.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: It’s so pretty too.

DEBRA: It is, and I eat the flowers.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, they’d be beautiful in a salad too.

DEBRA: Yes, they are. I love pineapple sage. I love growing nasturtiums and then putting flowers in my salad, the nasturtium flowers that are so peppery.

I had some mustard plants in California when I lived in Northern California. In the springtime, they just have fields and fields of mustard. And I would eat the mustard flowers. And so, I actually grew some mustard flowers here and put them in my salad one spring.

And just having – listeners, if you never had this experience of growing your own food or herbs, or not going someplace where they’re growing them. I’ve had a lot of experience with that too, going to small farms and things where you can just eat the food or the herbs just right out of the buds.

It’s such a different experience than even if you go to a farmer’s market.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: It is. And you really brought up a good point too about – you were mentioning that these were culinary herbs, but really, the culinary herbs have great medicine in them too.

We think of sage and thyme as being something that we season food with. But these are highly antiseptic plants that have a lot of activity in them.

One of my favorite remedies for a cold would be either sage or thyme tea, especially thyme helps to open the bronchioles.

So by growing even some culinary herbs, you’re going to get a lot of medicine out of that. Parsley is so full of vitamins and minerals. It’s really – if you buy any type of vegetable powders, you can add just your own fresh parsley into your drinks or your foods and have just a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.

DEBRA: I think that there’s a difference between something that’s fresh and something that’s dry then powdered. There’s a vitality to it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take them dried and powdered. But there’s a vitality to the freshness.

When I cut a piece of parsley and then it immediately goes in my salad. I just eat it, just eat those flowers of the pineapple sage. It just feels different.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: It’s also very empowering to grow something of your own too. Even if you have a pot that you put – if you live in an apartment and put it outside someplace, by growing just a few herbs that you can use, it’s very empowering for you to be able to grow some of your own either food or herbs and use them.

I think there’s really great energy in that too, just the self-sufficiency of taking care of yourself in that way.

DEBRA: I also like – I agree with everything you said. I also like the process of knowing that I’m taking care of the plant that I’m watering it and I’m feeding it, and I know what goes into it, and then it produces something for me. It’s like a gift.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, it is a great interaction. That’s just such an important point about just the whole relationship of people and plants, how our culture has been getting more and more removed from plants since World War II and relying on store-bought stuff.

Even if you can go to nature and find something, have a proper ID book, and even collect some dandelion greens in a place that isn’t sprayed and add those to your salad, that’s a great digestive aid. And bitter, like I was saying before, which is so great for your digestive system. It can help with a lot of digestive issues by adding bitters to your salad and just finding some things that grow in the wild that you can properly identify.

DEBRA: When I lived in California, it was very easy to find those. Just as I would go for walks in the woods, I would learn what those were. It’s a lot more difficult here in Florida because I live in a suburban area. So the difference between living out in a rural area in Northern California and living in suburbia in Florida is amazingly different in terms of what and the original ecosystem is there. Not much here at all.

We need to go to break. But when we come back, we’ll talk more with Jane Hawley Stevens at Four Elements Organic Herbals. Her website is

We’ll be right back.

DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. You see, you take a week off and you forget to say everything, how to say everything.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Jane Hawley Stevens. She’s the founder of Four Elements Organics Herbals at

Jane, tell us, what does Four Elements mean?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: The four elements are air, earth, fire and water. And of course, we use those a lot when we’re doing gardening and growing plants.

DEBRA: So there’s a Chinese system of four elements. Are you just referring to the four elements, or are you referring to the Chinese system?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: It’s not really the Chinese system because if it is was the Chinese system, I think they would have the fifth element of wood in there.

DEBRA: Yes, you’re absolutely right. So the four elements are traditional earth, air, fire and water that goes into the growing of all the things, all the plants.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: That’s right. That’s what we’re based on.

DEBRA: Okay, so if somebody is looking for an herbal product, what are some guidelines about how to choose a good one? Are there herbal products that don’t have any herbs in them for example?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: I think – and this is a big issue because the FDA is wanting – there’s some talk coming down the pipeline of every time somebody is – a manufacturer makes something with an herb, they’d have to take it to a lab to have it tested. But it does make sense if you’re just getting a powder from who knows what source, and you can’t identify it.

It’s different with me because I get the seeds, I grow the plant, I know what it looks like. And so I know I’m harvesting the exact gene or species that I want to work with. But I would – there are very reputable companies out there, but I like companies that are maybe smaller-owned in that the owner has a good reputation as an herbalist. It’s great if the person is growing their herbs and there are a few companies left like that too.

DEBRA: I agree with you. I know that – especially when I lived in California and it’s not so much available here in Florida. But I used to belong to community-supported agriculture, and so I could actually go to the farm where my food was being grown. I could work on the farm with the farmer if I wanted to. I could help harvest the food and put it in a basket.

So I knew exactly what was going on.

One of the things that is most distressing to me about the consumer world is that even as a consumer advocate, I can’t always find out what has gone into the product, whether it’s a food product or any other kind of product. And yet, if I were to decide that I wanted to buy one of your products, for example, I can just talk to you. I can send you an e-mail. I can pick up the phone and you can tell me all about it.

And you would.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: True. All of the ingredients that are in my products, you can read them. It’s not a long chemical name. It’s all simple ingredients that can be read easily. It’s just a real basic herbalism.

DEBRA: What’s your best-selling product?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Well, it’s called Look, No X Ma! and I designed it for my daughter. When she was just an infant, she developed eczema. And I really researched that situation really hard and came up with this one remedy that is, by far, my best-selling product. It floats my whole business really.

We also make a soap out of that same combination of herbs.

DEBRA: What’s another product that people like? If you didn’t have eczema, what would be a good, first basic product for someone to try if they don’t have any experience with herbs?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Well, I love the Rose Comfrey cream. So I have two comfrey creams, an unscented comfrey for the very chemically sensitive. It has very few ingredients in it. Another one of my top best-sellers is Calendula Neroli cream.

Down in Florida, you probably know how beautiful the orange blossoms smell. And that’s the scent when it’s distilled into a scent oil, orange blossoms mare called neroli.

So this is – calendula, bright, sunny, healing, calendula flowers. And then combined with that great scent of neroli, it makes a really lovely cream.

DEBRA: I’ll tell you when I first moved to Florida, my house is not a farm. It’s on a, what I would call, a large suburban lot. And so I have this beautiful backyard with all these trees, oak trees. And then when I moved here, there was an understory of citrus trees, different types of tangerines and grapefruits and oranges and things.

And there was a certain week in the spring when they would all bloom. And it was just so heavenly. You just go out in the backyard and have this gorgeous scent.

At that time, I was planning a wedding of my own, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get married just on those days when all the citrus trees are blooming?”

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Would that ever be nice? So gorgeous. And I just knew you were going to use the word heavenly when you described that smell.

DEBRA: It is. There’s just nothing like it. I just could breathe that all day long when those trees are blooming.

And that’s what nature is like. There’s nothing that duplicates. Nothing man-made that can duplicate that magic of nature, whether it’s the fragrance or the taste or the way it makes your body feel. It’s just a pretty incredible thing.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes, nature is here for us. Nature is here to heal us. I think it’s just so clear even to spend a time in a walk or watching the sunset, which is something that you have in Florida, either the sunrise or the sunset. All that beauty and majesty can really soothe us and help heal us and provide even an opportunity for our intuition to speak to us clearer.

Not to mention all the great plants that are out there that we have that are traditionally used or even have not yet been discovered their use.

In fact, that’s one definition of a weed, a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

DEBRA: Yes, I’ve heard that. I’ve heard that definition and I think that that’s right. I think all plants have virtues. We just need to find what they are. That sounds so lovely.

Are there a lot of non-organic herbs that – is there something about how herbs are processed that we should make sure we should get organic?

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Well, I think everything should be organic. We should have an organic plant as far as I’m concerned.

DEBRA: Yes, I agree.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: I wouldn’t really want to take medicine that’s been sprayed. It seems very counterintuitive to say the least, not to mention, there’s so much toxicity in fungicides and herbicides.

I was so happy to hear your message about glyphosates before the show. But yes, it’s really important to be certified organic too because you really have to prove in a lot of different ways to your inspector who comes every year about how well you’re keeping your products or your plants clean.

It really creates a great paper trail, which helps in a lot of other ways. You have to write down your daily chores and any off-farm inputs, anything that came from not on the farm that came onto the farm.

And so you have a great paper trail.

It is pricey but I think it’s worth paying to prove to people for that security that you are walking your talk. You’re not just saying it.

DEBRA: That’s right. I agree with that. I, of course, have heard the word organic for many years, but as a consumer advocate, I continue to research and learn more and educate myself as the years go by. Within the last few years, I’ve done a lot of research about what does organic really mean.

It means a lot more than just no pesticides, which is a big and fluent thing. But the whole process of certifying organic and all the things that you have to not only keep track of, but think about and consider that each one of those steps, each and everything that you do…

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Because you have to rebuild the soil. You have to take your soil out of production and put it into a cover crop every three years. And I think that’s really a beautiful thing because it just gives you a chance to honor and rebuild that soil in a way that you might not if you weren’t required to.

It’s so easy to just want to keep growing something either because you love growing something or just for the production sake of it.

They have a lot of good requirements.

DEBRA: I think so too.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: There are all different certifying agencies but it’s a very worthwhile thing to just assure people that you are walking your talk.

DEBRA: I think it would be great if all products of all types had that same kind of structure that required reporting and record-keeping, and all of those things so that – every product has a story, and if everyone could tell the story of their product to the customer, I think that would be incredible.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: Yes. A great idea while you’re saying that, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if you would have to prove if you sprayed chemicals and all the organic people wouldn’t have to go through all of that.

DEBRA: Yeah, yeah. I totally agree with you.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: And then, the people who spray all the chemicals, they don’t have to go through all the paperwork and prove it and pay the fees.

DEBRA: I often say that a label shouldn’t say organic apple sauce. It’s the other apple sauce. It should say apples and pesticides.

JANE HAWLEY STEVENS: There you go. Someday, we can create a vision here.

DEBRA: Yes. Well, thank you so much for being with me, Jane. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you. And again, Jane’s website is And you should just go there and see how beautiful her farm is, and how beautiful her plants are.

I’m just so happy that we talked.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you can go to and find out who’s going to be on for the rest of the week. Also, you can listen to any of the 200-plus past shows. They’re all archived and some are even transcribed.

Be well.


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