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Joey Lemieux – the art of growing your herbal teas

May 6, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Joey Lemieux is a grower of your next cup of delicious, healing, herbal tea. He hopes so, anyway, and he attends as many Farmers’ Markets as he can to make that happen. Within the ten acres he and his wife, Ellen, own in the north end of Mono, their Escarpment Gardens, he creates additional gardens every year, to expand the variety and volume of herbs he can grow, dehydrate and pack into tea bags and boxes for sale.

“Last year,” he told the Citizen, “I had a really good year, almost the same as 2019. This year has been a slow start because the [Orangeville] Farmers Market was shut down. I go to the Farmers Market at Erin Mills, in Mississauga every other week, So, I go to the Farmers Markets in Orangeville, Mulmur – in the ball diamond in Mansfield. I’m gearing up for a pretty good season – I’ve planted more seedlings [which he grew himself] than I ever have done and I’m looking forward to planting lots of new things this year.”

He continued, saying, “I’ve had pretty good luck with the lavender over the winter.”

The munstead lavender is the hardiest and the English, we learned. He makes tea from the leaves and flowers, chamomile, and is including echinacea. This year, beebalm with monarda and calendula, both flowers that attract a lot of bees, is relatively new to the list.

“There’s a wild one with a blue flower and the red one most people know and I use both,” he commented.

As part of his life as an herbal tea merchant, Mr. Lemieux is participating in the Tea Festival, a virtual Tea Expo. For a few years, he attended the Farmers Market in Barrie.

“The Barrie Public Library knew I had done the farmers’ market and they reached out to me last year but it’s happening this year for the first time.”

A virtual tea festival, from May 9 to 31, will present a world of tea, the Barry Public Library’s Virtual Tea Expo. In addition to Mr. Lemieux, a goodly list of different people, owners of tea companies, taking in Collingwood to Simcoe Grey and Dufferin counties.

The idea of doing this business began in 2015. At the time, Mr. Lemieux and Ellen owned a health food store in Shelburne.

He explained, “I’ve been gardening my whole life, basically plants, herbs, working in permaculture. I took course at the Ecology Retreat Centre [in Hockley Valley]. It was a two-week course for the Permaculture Design Certificate. And I have worked on organic farms before that. I just wanted to sell my own product after running the health store in Shelburne for a while.”

The business of herbal tea making came about naturally: “I talked to people about being a nutritionist and herbs are [good] medicine. You can grow them and they’re just good for healing. It made sense to focus on the most readily available product. 

“I thought it would be perfect and, after selling other people’s tea, I believed I could improve on it. Growing herbs is pretty straight forward. A lot if them come back every year.”

Still, working primarily on his own, a house will bring digressions: “I had to re-shingle my roof,” he told us. “I did it myself.”

Ambitious to grow his business, Joey Lemieux said, “I am expanding my gardens. I’ve got my greenhouse up and a raised bed garden and I’m creating new spaces. It’s all about being self-sufficient; what’s good for your health. Herbs are good because they also flower and we have honey bees here now too. I built their huts and frames. I mainly have them for pollination but the honey is nice. Very nutritious.

“We came to Shelburne before we had the health food store,” he said. “It was a place that we could see that anything we wanted to do, we could. We could fulfill any possibilities here.”

Survival for the self-employed is a master task and he admits that when the home is the place of earning, they have to work for it.

As a long-term plan, Mr. Lemieux just wants to keep growing, keep planting; cover the ground with more trees. Yet, one of the goals in the future is to share the knowledge. However…

“I’m doing most of the work and so there’s little time to set time aside. People do inquire about tours but I’m so busy but, one day, I would like to show people how to plant what’s good for them.”

For instruction, there is the option to do more virtual online work, more online teachings.

“We also have 50 acres by Owen Sound,” which might be a good place for co-op students to work and learn.

“We love our location here. We think it’s great and now we have a ‘pick up box’ as well. A person can browse our website and order ahead.

“The process,” Mr. Lemieux instructed us, “is growing, dehydrating, and packaging herbs for herbal tea bags. The bags are unbleached wood pulp. There are no added flavours, natural or otherwise. They can often by re-used once or twice, if they are refrigerated.

“Our little farm is certified ‘naturally grown’,’ he added. “This certification is geared more for small farms. We are peer inspected; we swop inspections. They follow most of the same guidelines as certified organic but this is a more accessible way for small farms. Certified organic is more expensive.”

The work is love: his best day? 

“A good day for me is when I have enough time to focus on gardening. If I can have an extended time of day for just the garden – working on the land and working with Ellen.”

He defined it: “It’s wonderful.”

You can reach Mr. Lemieux by email at or learn more about Escarpment Gardens through their website:

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