BARABOO, Wis. – Jane Hawley Stevens and her husband, David Stevens, have a mission – to connect people with herbal remedies. They want to help people come to appreciate and help preserve the healing power of nature. They’ve been growing organic herbs and selling wellness products for more than 30 years from their certified-organic farm near Baraboo.
In recognition of their commitment to good land stewardship and quality of life for their employees and customers they’ve been named the Organic Farmers of the Year. The award recognizes a Midwest farmer or farm family each year for outstanding land management, innovative farming practices, and outreach. The couple will receive the award Feb. 27 at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Organic Farming Conference.
The Stevenses own Four Elements Organic Herbals, a 130-acre farm where they grow more than 200 varieties of herbs. From the herbs they make wellness products such as teas, creams, tinctures, lip balms and sprays. They also harvest wild plants such as dandelion, chickweed, white pine and burdock with medicinal qualities. Their products are in hundreds of stores nationwide and are sold online through the farm’s website.
Both have degrees in horticulture. David Stevens works full-time at the University of Wisconsin-Arboretum. During the summer he also works full-time hours at the farm, using organic methods to manage weeds and build soil health. Jane Stevens has worked full-time on the farm since the early 1980s.
Her life’s work began after finding an herbal remedy for her son’s recurring ear infections. She was growing and selling potted herbs when he was a youngster. She tried a tincture of mullein flowers and olive oil as an alternative to drugs he was prescribed. It alleviated the infection without side effects, she said.
“I was so impressed that it’s become my passion and my path to learn more about plants and healing,” she said.
Although her horticulture studies taught her to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, she saw a connection between soil health and the efficacy of her remedies, she said. After about a year of contemplation she decided to apply for organic certification and earned it in 1989.
The couple has added local employees as the business has grown. They have six employees who work flexible schedules to allow time for family-life balance. Jane started the company and farm when she had young children and puts family first. With more help in the fields and in preparing wellness products, she has had time to hold classes and share her herbal-remedy experiences.
“Using herbs causes you to engage with your own health, pay attention to your body and realize you’re part of the healing process,” she said.
She teaches other farmers how to grow organic herbs and flowers. She’s a frequent presenter at the annual Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Organic Farming Conference. And she’ll host a field day at her farm Aug. 1.
The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Organic Farming Conference will be held Feb. 27-29 at the La Crosse Center, 300 Front St. South, La Crosse, Wisconsin. Visit mosesorganic.org and fourelementsherbals.com for more information.