Mountain Valley Botanics is the result of our passion for growing amazing plants, and preserving them at their peak; but before I tell you about what we're doing with our botanicals I'd like to share a bit about our farm, our family, and our journey so far.
My name is Kristine Winniford and I share the above picturesque farm with my husband (Andrew) and our 5 kids. We farm fulltime in our 8 acre Certified Organic garden where we grow a variety of crops. A major cornerstone of our farm is our Organic garlic seed company named Mountain Valley Garlic (link HERE if you're interested). We also grow a large vegetable and herb garden where we produce large crops of botanical herbs and flowers along with a variety of vegetable seeds for the Snake River Seed Cooperative (link HERE for the Seed Co-op). In addition to supporting our farm businesses and growing seeds for our community, our gardens produce most of our families food and we grow an additional abundance of vegetables to provide for our areas food banks.
Within the busyness of the farm's growing cycles I find myself preserving herbs from around the farm for our families own apothecary. I dry herbs, infuse them into oils, and in 2018 I saw my first traditional copper alembic still and knew that distilling was meant for me. Throughout my life I have studied the use of plants as medicine. Using our nutritious foods to keep our bodies healthy but also learning to use herbs to support our bodies ability to heal from injury and illness. Like many, this journey began with essential oils but I soon began to comprehend the shear volume of plant material required to produce 1 small bottle of essential oil. I knew that these powerful medicines should be revered and used sparingly, but could there be a more sustainable choice for everyday use? I found this choice in hydrosols. Produced in much the same way as essential oils, hydrosols are the water component of a distillation (click HERE to learn more about the distillation process).
This was the beginning of my journey into the world of distilling high quality, organic hydrosols. As a farmer, I started by learning to grow the herbs and know their different traits and signs of peak quality. We live in an area that is uniquely situated to grow beautiful botanical herbs. As a result, we live in an area with several artisan distillers of high quality hydrosols. We began to reach out to them and offer our growing services. Each year we were growing thousands of pounds of botanical for our fellow distillers, and in my free time I would distill our extras; experimenting and experiencing all the nuances of crafting a high quality hydrosol. In 2020 we were presented with the opportunity to take our hydrosols to the next level with a commercial contract for an organic cosmetic company. Andrew built me a lovely and thoughtfully designed distillery and I devoted myself to learning how to scale up the art of distillation. We went from a small copper still that held about 10 pounds of plant material, to a pair of commercial copper stills that each held over 100 pounds of plant material.
The distillery is my space on the farm to be creative. It is a process that I tend to do on my own, with quiet and intention. The distillation process takes many hours to complete. First the stills are filled with pristine, spring water from our underground spring and then they are filled with freshly harvested organic herbs from the garden just outside of the distillery. They are gently heated until they begin to steam, the steam travels up through the hat of the still and then makes its way through a copper coil submersed in cool water. The steam slowly returns to its water state; no longer water but now a hydrosol, a richly aromatic essence of the plant within the still. In our quest to provide you with the purest and highest quality hydrosol, we choose to not adulterate our hydrosols with a preservative. We sanitize all of our equipment and collection vessels before distilling, and then distill into a closed system where the outside air cannot contaminate the hydrosol. Through this process we produce and bottle a naturally pure product that is ideal for all ages, skin types, and even safe for consumption as a flavoring in food or water.
Thank you so much for reading about our journey and passion for growing and distilling. Thank you for supporting small family farms and organic agriculture. Together we can change the world and usher in a more sustainable future. Aromatic plant waters can help us get there, by sustainably promoting everyday use of herbs and our plant allies to support health and wellbeing.