Sunshine and blue skies were the order of the day for members of the Plant & Dig Garden Club’s final road trip of the year, though a chilly wind reminded the group that seasonal changes were definitely to be felt. The destination was the Elevation Herbal Tea headquarters, where owner Shannon Ullmann greeted members outside her front door with a cup of tea (of course!) in her hand.

Ullmann shared a bit of history with members, explaining that this piece of property, tucked into the foothills outside of Hotchkiss, was purchased in 2015, and that after much deliberation, she and her husband settled on creating their herbal tea business.

The group proceeded to the fields where all of the herbs used in their 10 varieties of tea are grown. Here, planted in neat rows between sheets of specialized fabric to eliminate contamination of weeds, were rows of lavender, lemon balm, various mints, strawberries, anise and other herbs. Ullmann also purchases fruit from local organic growers. Tea-tasting stands were set up all along this area so that members could taste each variety, served by Ullmann’s daughter.

Two acres of this property are set aside for the growing of these products, with only half of it currently under cultivation. Amazingly, Ullmann does most of the work herself, as well as concocting new varieties to compliment those that they now offer mainly throughout the major cities on the Western Slope. Their tea went on the market September 2018, and was so well-received that there was great concern that they would run out of packaged products before the Christmas season was over. That may give those interested some idea of the tastiness of these all-natural teas!

The group then toured the lovely facility where the herbs are dried in wooden shelving racks on the second floor, and then processed and packaged with their state-of-the-art equipment on the first floor. There is also a special drying machine for the strawberries which keeps the flavor fresh and yet allows the fruit to be preserved for use as needed. Ullmann treated members to samples of these and the group enjoyed the treat.

After Ullmann’s presentation, members were busy for quite some time deciding on what teas to purchase — some to give as holiday gifts — and others for their own consumption as a reminder of our wonderful afternoon at this amazing facility, run by an amazing young lady and her husband. The group extends its thanks to Ullmann for her hospitality.

One of the mottos on their website, elevation, is, “A job well done is our reward.” It is fitting, for it is clear that the reward for them is the success of their product, much to the delight of us all.

Activities at Pioneer Town and Horizons Care Center wrapped up this month with cleanup duties at both facilities. Numerous members gathered at Pioneer Town for this chore. As they gathered, everyone noticed that in the midst of the dead flowers, one cosmo was still blooming. No one wanted to cut it down, but members knew that cold nighttime temperatures would soon claim it, anyway. And then, as they worked, one of the members found a tiny zinnia, just a couple of inches high, with the beginnings of a bud forming, which again gave the group pause. It made members realize that, as with humans, flowers can also produce late-bloomers which bring unexpected delight. Mother Nature is amazing!

Members will have an “at home” treat for the November meeting when Gloria Good, a master gardener and ex-president of our club, will give a presentation entitled, “Alpine, Crevice, and Planter Gardens.” The group will view her newly-planted crevice garden, and learn the details of its creation.

The colder weather drives folks inside. But gardening is never far from this group’s minds.

Now they can take stock of the seeds they have gathered over the summer, figure out what went right, what might be improved upon, and (believe it or not) begin to think about what they want to do next year, what they didn’t get done this year that will need to be done next year. Yea, you got it. These members are GARDENERS!

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