BISBEE, N.D. – One of the state’s largest herb farms, gardendwellers FARM, has a new location and new owners.
Apryl and Adam Mawby, young beginning farmers, took over the business in February from Adam’s parents, Holly and Barry Mawby.
Holly and Barry started the farm in 2001 at a location near Esmond, N.D., growing culinary herbs, fruits, and flowers for nearly 20 years. They planted herbs by hand and sold up to 30 single varieties of herbs in various-sized packages for wholesale and retail markets.
Holly and Barry took their herbs to sell fresh at farmers’ markets and grocery stores in the region, and their son, Adam helped them, as well.
Adam started raising livestock in 2014, and began gardendwellers RANCH in 2019. He raises Katahdin sheep, which are known for excellent lamb meat. Since then, he has added other livestock.
“I started the ranch by looking at soil health and how we can use management to provide for the soil, so that the soil will provide for us,” he said.
The gardendwellers location near Esmond wasn’t large enough to have grazing land for their livestock, so the young Mawbys searched for a larger location to move the operation to.
Paul and Diane Overby, of Wolford, N.D., were looking to retire from farming but wanted to find the right young couple to transition their farm to. They contacted the Mawbys, met with them, and decided they were right for the farm.
The Overbys no-till farm several crops on rotation, using regenerative ag, soil health, and stewardship of the land practices.
“Paul is big into no-till and regenerative ag, and they wanted to transition their farm to someone who had the same morals and values they have,” Adam said.
Adam, Apryl, and her two girls moved out to the farm this spring. They brought clippings from the original farm to transplant at the new farm location.
The Mawbys have been working around-the-clock to establish crops and build the farm/ranch throughout 2021 at the new location.
Adam is currently busy planting perennials and will be no-till seeding some commodity crops.
“I will eventually be farming about 2,000 acres, with several crops in rotation, in addition to operating the farm and ranch businesses,” Adam said.
They are growing not only the traditional herbs that Adam’s parents grew, such as parsley, thyme and rosemary, but they are planning to add medicinal herbs, as well.
Apryl formerly had a business that made and sold soaps and lotions, so the Mawbys want to continue that business, as well.
“We are looking to capitalize on all that an ag operation can produce,” Adam said.
On May 2, Apryl announced that an “important milestone” had occurred at the new farm location.
“I mowed the plot of land at our new location, that will house our gardendwellers herbs and our family’s personal garden,” she said.
The 50-foot by 250-foot garden plot was in the process of being split into four production lots that are separated by small orchard shelterbelts.
Apryl pointed out that she will separate out one lot for the medicinal herbs, one lot for the culinary herbs, and utilize another lot for the family’s personal vegetables.
“The last production lot will be for two high tunnels for herbs and other farm products,” she added.
Adam said they would not be running farmers’ markets this year as they establish the farm.
“We will be taking a break from the frequent fresh sales at farmers’ markets and live food offerings at grocery stores that gardendwellers started on and did nearly every week,” Adam said.
His mother’s goal last year was to get a freeze dryer for the herbs, and establish the online business to provide product year-round to people. She accomplished that goal.
“We are still selling freeze-dried herbs from last year’s crop online now, but by fall, we hope to be selling freeze-dried herbs from our new farm location,” Adam said.
Their herbs are Pride of Dakota products, and the seal is on every package of freeze-dried herbs sold.
“My mother and father worked really hard for 20 years on the farm up until last year,” he said. COVID-19 meant they couldn’t sell at farmers’ markets, so they sold their herbs online.
The current farm location near Bisbee also has a Conservation Stewardship Program contract to graze rotationally. They hope to purchase cattle in the future to graze with the sheep/lambs.
“Right now, we have 38 head of sheep and a couple of dairy calves. We also have 140 broiler chickens, with another 140 birds on the way,” he said.
They sell USDA-inspected lamb and chicken meat cuts throughout the year.
Since they changed farm locations, Adam and Apryl are trying to get certified as a producer/grower to be able to sell wholesale to retailers.
“In North Dakota, we can sell under cottage food laws, but we want to be in as many places as we can,” he said. “At one time, gardendwellers was the largest herb farm in North Dakota. We want to get back to that.”
Adam and Apryl were married in October 2020, so they are still newlyweds.
“We actually met at a livestock auction,” Adam said. “We knew we were right for each other. We both wanted the same things in life and we both wanted to farm and ranch.”
The couple wants to dedicate the new farm/ranch location and the continuation of gardendwellers to Adam’s mom, Holly. Sadly, she passed away last month.
“We hope to make Holly proud,” Apryl added.
For more information about gardendwellers FARM, see their Facebook page, and to order herbs and find out more about the farm, see the website at www.gardendwellers.com.