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12. May 2018

Mountain herbs from Upper Austria

Growing herbs has 200 years of tradition in the Mühlviertel region in Upper Austria. None other than Emperor Franz Josef had the herbs delivered in large wicker baskets by horse cart. We have been getting peppermint, balm and mallow as well as strawberry leaves of the finest organic quality from the Mühlviertel region for over 25 years.

Altogether 37 certified organic operations have merged here into Austria’s single herb cooperative. The mountainous landscape with its granite-packed earth provides the perfect conditions for growing high-quality herbs. The region is not suitable for mass production, however. For this reason, a focus was consistently placed on quality and smaller volumes from the very  beginning. As chemical pesticides and fertilizers are an absolute no-no in organic farming, much work is done by hand. Weeds regularly have to be removed with great care prior to the harvest using a hoe. An organic farmer puts up to 550 man-hours into one hectare of land.

Harvests take place two to three times per year; at the end of May, in July and in September. That is when things have to move very quickly. In order to ensure that the essential oils are well preserved, the herbs are processed within at least two hours of the harvest. To keep distances short, the people of Mühlviertel have spread five drying facilities across the farmyards and herb fields. There, the herbs are carefully dried for around 24 hours at a maximum of 40 degrees Celsius. They are then prepared gently at the cooperative. The herbs are cleaned, sieved and
cut, if the customer requests it. Finally, the fragrant raw materials are packed and shipped on their journey to Lebensbaum in Diepholz.

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