Producer Feature: Prairie Moon Herbs

“Our packaging for the tea. Our teas are based on what we can grow here and each blend carries at least one ingredient grown here, except the Chai. I figure it counts as it was developed over many long S.D. winters.” – Grace Freeman, Owner

Prairie Moon Herbs is an 11 acre farm in southeast South Dakota, in the heart of corn and soybean crop farms. Grace and Harry moved here after his graduate school in Wisconsin 22 years ago. Grace had been working on organic farms for 10 years prior to relocating to South Dakota. Medicinal herbs and wild edibles have been her passion since a college course she took while in high school on wild edibles.

Grace decided to go to nursing school after moving to SD to widen the acceptance of her medicinal herb background for the neighboring southeast South Dakota residents. This was a distraction from her farmwork, but with the flexibility of marketing at the local farmer’s market, she was able to juggle the farm, raising kids, and nursing. Now, with an Integrative Health Master’s Certificate from the University of Minnesota, herbs can be part of the nursing, too.

Grace with the drying shed & hoophouse. This month they are busy watering the lettuce that wintered over from a September planting. The first harvest should be available by the end of March and be selling at the last winter market in Vermillion, April 18th.

Grace has only applied organic practices on the farm, and until recently has not felt the need to certify as organic. Now as her market is growing with the Dakota Fresh Food Hub and online marketing of her tea blends and dried herbs, and also on-farm purchasing of herb plants, she feels her customers would like to know more about the organic processes utilized on the farm. Our main crops: herbs, culinary and medicinal, herb plants, lettuce, cut flowers, edible flowers, and tea blends.

Prairie Moon Herbs has a heated greenhouse, a 100’ hoophouse, a 20’ hoop/shade house, a drying shed, an herb room for tea blending, a barn which houses 2 llamas, free range chickens, and a one acre field for cropping. We also enjoy a front garden for respite from the open prairie. There is minimal fruit production with a few apple, cherry, and pear trees, raspberry, aronia, elderberry, and golden currant bushes, and strawberries. Grace is also a bee keeper, and has a 30-60% survival rate for colonies over winter.

Our rescue llamas! These sisters have a pasture ¾ around the growing field. They help to keep the deer from eating the produce. Their manure is turned into compost. They have been very low maintenance and easy to fence.

Through the years we have enjoyed hosting Air BNB and Couch Surfing guests. We would enjoy being part of “The Route To The Rally” so folks driving to or from Sturgis feel free to stop by for ice tea and treats. We’d also welcome campers.

Grace enjoys teaching about herbs, and offers herb walks on the farm. Farmer’s Markets are a lot of work, hauling product back and forth, watching temperatures of produce, but the community building vendors do at these low-key events is important for networking. The Vermillion Farmer’s Market hosts many events in Clay County, like Local Fare at the Fair during the Clay County Fair, Family Fun Day near Fourth of July, and going onto USD campus during Earth Week offering free plants to students.

This year the Vermillion Farmer’s Market will be the Kick-Off for Earth Week in Vermillion. This highlights all the vendors, including Prairie Moon Herbs and brings individuals to the market who normally may not experience local products. With our dried tea blends, this is a chance to get them out to a larger audience.

The field with the fallow peas in the back of lavender, and salvia, with basil in front.

One funny story is while offering tea samples at the Market, often we create ice tea during the hot summer months. On an early September Market, while it was still full of summer heat, a USD graduate student from Asia decided to try a sip. He promptly spit the tea out! He had never had iced tea before. Stating in his country tea is only served hot, no matter the weather. We reassured him, the tea can also be served hot.

Grace received a FSA microloan 7 years ago, which was mostly a good thing, but it has been a challenge in itself. Still learning a lot about marketing; also the best farming methods for the tools, time, and experience we have here. Grace is considering applying for a Value Added grant, but fully understands this undertaking will take a lot of time and effort.

Our new calendar follows the moon throughout the year and helps folks learn 12 herbs a year that grow in SD.

For fun, Grace runs the school garden in Wakonda, SD. In another life, she would be an outdoor educator! 

Plans this year will be focused on becoming an LLC, certified organic, and creating a website that is active and customer friendly. Always love having visitors. Our new barn quilts will help you to know where our farm is on Frog Creek Road.

Look for our new barn quilts to be placed on our barn this Spring and entice visitors to the farm to buy plat starts directly.

We give countless volunteer hours into the IW school garden, the Vermillion Area Farmer’s Market events, River Appreciation Day, River Honoring Community potluck, Earth Day/Earth Week events, and clog dancing lessons. “We help our community grow!”

Our address: Prairie Moon Herbs, 30814 Frog Creek Road, Vermillion SD 57069. Contacts: Email. 605-760-0540. Website.