During one of the hottest weeks of summer, we visited Katie and Larry Nesky of Awesome Herbs at their home in the Flathead Valley. On a bountiful spread of sloping pasture and lush gardens in St. Ignatius, their farm produces herbal teas and culinary herbs. They harvest, dry, process, mix, and package in small batches, providing the freshest and highest quality herbal products possible.
Beneath the Mission Mountains, summer’s bounty spilled from the garden beds and hung from the fruit trees around us as we gathered to tour the Nesky’s farm. The humidity hung heavy and the smells of mint, tulsi, and chamomile accompanied us as we talked. With sprawling gardens, their two young kids dashed between rows, a hoop house, and a greenhouse while their farm buzzed with life.
Cups of tea were passed around as we moved to chat in the shade.
“Even in the summertime when it’s up in the 90s, we’ve become big tea drinkers – hot tea drinkers,” said Larry. “I never thought it’d be a good idea but it actually feels pretty good and gets you through the day. You end up drinking more liquid, because it’s not just water. It just goes down easier.”
The Neskys are proud of their farm to cup operation. They harvest, dry, and mix their tea blends using herbs straight from their garden and backyard, while items they don’t grow, but add to some of their blends (black tea, ginger, etc), are certified organic and sourced from farms with which they build long term connections.
While neither of the Neskys grew up farming, Katie was involved in the Farm to School program in Kalispell and Larry enrolled in the environmental studies program at the University of Montana. Drawn together through the foodscape, Larry wanted to farm, and soon after growing their family they took the plunge into farming. Now their kids play between the flowers and berries and are a big inspiration for the lifestyle.
“Sometimes, the kids will just go out and harvest in a bowl and it’ll be this beautiful thing that they’ve made,” said Katie. “Then we try it fresh and it’s awesome!”
As a family they are experimenting and creating. This “kids play” has become the basis for tea varieties and developing recipes is a whole family affair.
This winter, you can try their teas at markets from the Flathead Valley to Missoula. See Awesome Herbs’ listing on our Find Food & Farms map and visit them this holiday season at the Missoula Valley Winter Market.
Anthony Pavkovich is a Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana. He lives in Melville, MT and has worked as a herder, butcher, and ranch hand. When not working to promote local food, you can find him traversing the landscape under his own power – be it in running shoes, on skis or by bike. To better get to know his backyard, he once ran 240 miles across the region he calls home. Send him your favorite trails at [email protected].