Blue Heron Herbary is a family run business. My father Mike and mother Penny have lived on Sauvies Island near Portland, Oregon for over 40 years. I grew up on Sauvies Island and have lived here most of my life. Blue Heron Herbary was created by the three of us when Mike and Penny retired from their careers and we needed a way to supplement their income.
Selling from our garden on the island wasn’t a new idea. Our front yard is next to the main island road. In the summer we would see about 10,000 cars a day go by, often heading to the beaches on Sauvie Island. One year, when I was a kid, we planted 600 tomato plants and sold the ripe tomatoes u-pick. With the profits we took a trip to Disneyland. We planted tomatoes the next year but our crop was infected by a blight. While I was in 4H the front yard became a sheep and pony pasture for a while.
Herbs have been in our family for many decades. My grandmother, Mary Francis use to sell her herbal vinegars, dressings and cheese balls around Portland back in the 50’s and 60’s. The Herbary has been a slow growing thing. We didn't have a grand design, just every year, little by little, we've added to the property and to our offerings.
We had a good family friend who designed an English Knot Garden for us in 1992. Construction on the beds started spring of 92, and into the summer. We’d planned on opening the following year, but there was so much interest in what we were doing from people driving past, that we offered a small smattering of herb plants that summer.
My mother and I hit the circuit selling our herb inspired products at local bazaars for several seasons, before we built the shop, which was completed in 1999. Soon after we put up our first greenhouse, and our plant list grew. Each year we try to keep growing our business. Around 2007 we ventured off the island and began participating in several farmers markets. In 2012, to celebrate our 20th anniversary, we brought back my grandmothers herbal vinegars, and hope to continue to expand our business.
We never imagined 20 years ago what our island farm and business would become. But, looking back on it now, it seems such an obvious outcome. Not only because of our family connection to selling herb products, but because we all love the plants and sharing our knowledge of herbs with everyone we meet. We also enjoy supporting other local small businesses by carrying their products in our gift shop.
It’s been such fun getting to know all the awesome people who come out to the Herbary and find us at the Farmers Market. We hope you can visit soon when you’re in the Portland area. You can also find our farm fresh herb products available at the Blue Heron Herbary online store.
Thanks for all your support,
Heather, Mike and Penny Hanselman