Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Climate Crunch Cometh!

Quoting one of my favorite Australian suppliers.   Now you all know about the fire that burned John and Petra Day's Fragonia plantation and the ongoing saga as they recover from that fire and rebuild their plantation..
This discussion is with a different supplier, who produces different oils. I had asked him about an
Nerolina Leaves
unusual variant of Nerolina that I had been asked to source, one with over 90% Nerolidol.  And since I was writing I asked about some oils we are either low on, or have difficulty sourcing, among them Eucalyptus Globulous and Lemon Myrtle.  The reply:


In the course of our research, way back when, we identified a patch of M. q. trees that yielded 95% nerolidol. We harvested enough seed to plant a few acres, and the plants grew very well. In due course, we harvested and distilled, and verified the very high nerolidol level.

International market interest was zero. Zilch. Nada. The paddock was eventually ploughed out and replanted with Tea Tree.
There are LOTS of Euc. glob that have been planted over the past decade or two, and those plantings continue with timber production as the primary objective. What we haven’t seen much of is essential oil produced from the plantation thinnings. This was to be an integral part of the plantation management plans. Maybe it will still happen, as there seems to be a real shortage of the EO from the traditional sources.
(my note, yes there is!)
Lemon Myrtle…. we are short, too. The dominant producer had a massive fire which destroyed the production plant and stock. It has been rebuilt, but prices have escalated, not surprisingly.  (my note, echoes of Fragonia!)
The Australian climate has changed so much in recent years that formerly reliable growing conditions are all over the place. There are some oils that we will not see again any time soon, Rosalina being one in particular that we put huge time, effort, and money into. Last season’s crop was so poor that it wasn’t worth harvesting.

All of this has us seriously considering whether we will continue to provide smallish quantities into the North American market. I’ll know more in the coming weeks, but get ready: Climate Crunch Cometh!

And reading this breaks my heart.  Besides John Day, the Fragonia distiller, and of course Chris Burder of Stone Ridge Farm, I have two Australian exporters that I trust. We have been burned by 'highly recommended' sources in the past and trust the people we trust. For one of them to consider stopping what they are doing is heart-breaking.
Now that's Australia.. we know that French essential oil production has not been as expected for several years now.  We are hoping that this Spring's weather will allow a good Thyme crop. Last year's was dreadful, because of bad weather during the Spring growing and harvesting season.

As my friend says, "Climate Crunch Cometh." and more difficulties are going to come.

I believe that our aromatic crops are "the canary in the coal mine."   Because we are a relatively small and specialized market, we see the effects of unusual weather patterns on our crops now.  How long before we see them in our food supplies?

Monday, April 9, 2018

"If this were easy" part 27

or, the saga of the Happy Hasher  (Michelle's term for this adventure.)

In January we received several bulk orders of Spikenard and sold almost all we have, We wrote our here, before, and don't want to change sources, so we knew there might be a wait. Communications in the mountains of Nepal can be sketchy, at best.)
Freshly harvested Spikenard Root
producer requesting more.  (We've written about him

Early in February we heard from him, that he was in the States, receiving an award. (He still hasn't shared the details of that!)   And would be distilling our Spikenard upon his return to Nepal.

On February 12th he sent our invoice, for the Spikenard, and some other oils.  We made the international transfer (being warned by our bank that "Nepal is a 'slow pay country' and the transfer could be delayed.)

On Feb 15th he told us he was still in the mountains, distilling our oils, and hoped to ship them in two weeks.

 On March 3rd we were told of an electrical breakdown at the distilling site in the mountains, and that the oils should ship in another two weeks.

On March 13th,
Dear Marge,
I'm extremely sorry for the delay. Finally your oils has been picked by DHL. They will leave Nepal tomorrow. Hopefully towards the end of this week you will receive your oils.  I will send you the tracking number tomorrow.  By the way I was only able to distill 9.8 KG of Spikenard. I owe you 0.2 KG. I will add this in the next coming shipment. 


On March 19th:
Dear Marge,
I am so sorry. DHL picked up your goods on March 13, 2018 and now its on hold. Some drug lord tried to ship hashish the same day by DHL and the person was caught. Since then all inbound and outbound shipment of DHL has been stopped by the Narcotics Division. It is very very sad. We are hoping this will be sorted out soon and you will receive your oils.
This is totally unforeseen situation and its not in my control. Please find the attached shipment tracking record.


Much correspondence back and forth. We are not Kailash's only client and he had a LOT of orders 'on hold' We were all concerned that either the oils might never be returned to him, but impounded forever, or that they might all be opened and contaminated.

Finally, on March 22nd the shipments were all returned to him.  But on March 26th he wrote:

Dear Marge,

The oils are still under inspection and are being tested by the Department of Plants. Hopefully, we will get the papers by Friday and then it will be shipped to you.

Thank you for your patience and kind cooperation.

Best regards

Kailash Dixit
On April 5th, 
Dear Marge,
Attached is your shipping details of the oil. The oils were sent on Sunday. It should reach you soon.

Also note that DHL Nepal has been suspended from carrying on any further business.

We are really sorry for the inconvenience caused.

Have a beautiful day.

Best regards

The tracking number, with a shipping service in the United Kingdom that I have never heard of, does not bring up any record, but I am assured we will have the oils early this week.

Hashish?  Narcotics Division? Department of Plants? DHL is suspended from doing business in Nepal?  oh.  just... oh.

Our Spikenard and Palma Rosa have had a very adventurous journey!