Tara Orlando, 38, launched 35-acre Riddle Mill Organic Farm in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, in 1989, after a three-year search for certifiably organic property. The business grew rapidly; at one time, she sold close to $500,000 of herbs annually and had about 30 employees.
Orlando recently decided to downsize to make the farm more manageable and profitable. Today she generates $80,000 in annual revenue single-handedly. Her crops include both culinary and medicinal herbs; she also manufactures and sells herbal skin dressings and natural organic bath salts.
As the herb market has changed, so has Orlando's customer base. Riddle Mill's original customers were restaurants that used fresh culinary herbs. Today, she says, more business comes from retail sales of medicinal herbs.