Feature photo: Adam Buresh of Oregon’s Wild Harvest.
Oregon is a hotbed of naturopathic products and health supplements. A distinct, alternative approach to health, naturopathy focuses on a natural approach of healing the body, usually employing the use of botanical medicines, homeopathic products, a focus on natural foods and more. Using plant-based medicine to nourish and heal bodies is simply a way of life for many health-conscious consumers. And as interest in these types of products has grown, so have Oregon-based companies that are producing them.
In 1994, Randy Buresh and his wife co-founded Oregon’s Wild Harvest (OWH), a grower and manufacturer of U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic herbal supplements. Today, this family-run company, which includes son Adam Buresh, is operating across multiple farms, taking advantage of Oregon’s varying climate to produce dozens of varieties of medicinal plants. “Our mission is to nurture healthy soil and clean water, save and replant our non-GMO seeds, and produce pure, potent and healthy herbal supplements,” Buresh says.
To accomplish this, OWH practices biodynamic methods or “regenerative farming,” leaving a smaller carbon footprint. OWH focuses on producing herb products and extracts, such as nettle, skullcap, holy basil and more, that are free of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs.
“The health of our land is directly connected to the health of our plants, which are connected to the quality of our herbal products and health of our customers,” Buresh says. “Our hands-on, closed-loop approach gives us maximum control over the identity, quality, potency and safety of all our ingredients, every step of the way.”
From Farm to Bottle
Similarly at The Eclectic Institute, co-founded in 1982 by Dr. Ed Alstat, every step of the process from farm to bottle is handled in-house. The Eclectic Institute started freeze-drying herbs in the late 1980s. Then, in 1990, it began to use organic non-grain alcohol for consumers with gluten sensitivity.
“Different than other herb companies, our herbs need to be fresh for freeze drying so we try to grow as much as we can ourselves,” explains Christine Alstat, co-owner. “One of the advantages to this is the ability to grow unusual or genetically unique plants that are not generally available on the open market.”
For example, the farm yields four varieties of echinacea, which all hold different medicinal properties.
“Also, in contrast to some types of agricultural farms that practice mono-cropping, we leverage the benefits of biodiversity by growing a wide variety of plants that thrive in the climate of the Willamette Valley,” like native ornamental flower species and cover crops
to attract pollinators.
Known as a “super fruit,” black raspberries grow in Oregon’s own backyard. With Oregon as the No. 1 producer in the U.S. of black raspberries, it’s no wonder that BerriHealth, based in Corvallis, carefully cultivates the crop, creating products and testing its benefits.
BerriHealth was founded in 2009 by Steve Dunfield with leading scientists in order to supply U.S. medical research with high-quality black raspberries at Ohio State University. Since then, many other national and international medical research institutes have used the company’s black raspberry products to advance medical research.
Oregon black raspberries are also being studied in the United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea for the potential to help with cancer prevention and inhibition, as well as improving cardiovascular function.
The keystone to BerriHealth’s success is Sturm’s Berry Farm in Corbett, a fourth-generation family farm with 70 years of experience growing this fickle berry using ecological farming methods. From selecting cultivars to soil conditions, harvest timing and preserving, the entire berry process must be controlled to guarantee quality and consistency.
“Our unique location in Oregon and our partnership with a wonderful family farm gives us a unique advantage by providing us with the highest-quality black raspberries,” says Dunfield, president of BerriHealth. “We are excited about sharing our healthy berry products with the world.”