The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Sustainability Series: Pollen Ranch

Sustainability Series: Pollen Ranch


March 24, 2013

Pollen Ranch is the largest producer of certified organic, wild, pure fennel pollen and the world’s first supplier of dill pollen. David Rebb Firman, the company’s founder, learned how to harvest pollen from his grandmother and then use the pollen to help crops become more fruitful. Eventually, he finessed the agricultural skill of collecting wild-growing fennel, cleaning it, and extracting the pure fennel pollen. We talked to Gary Woolley, Pollen Ranch’s General Manager, about the importance of producing a crop with very little waste.

How does your business define sustainability?

Sustainability for Pollen Ranch means using as much of the fennel plant as we can while leaving the wild fields with enough resources to sustain the crop until the next season.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

We use as much of the plant as possible, wasting as little as possible. We harvest our product in the wild where the sun, soil and rain does its job without any help from us, using less resources and letting mother nature do what she does best.

What are your short term and long term goals?

Our short term goals are to gear up for the next harvest, refining our procedures each season to produce more fennel pollen and fennel products while leaving the fields in good condition. Our long term goals are for Pollen Ranch to be a well known name, known for our organic, natural, healthy products.

Where do you think you will have the biggest impact?

We harvest the fennel pollen from wild land preserves. So it is all about protecting the fields and the environment around the fields. Bringing our product to market while leaving the fields in the condition we found them is where we have the greatest impact and sustainability.

How do you measure your progress?

We measure our progress by the re-growth of the plants each year. If we have done our job, we will leave the fields in excellent condition for re-growth and waste little to none of the plant.

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

We know our retail customers are looking for the best quality, healthiest products on the market. We center our business practices around this goal, to bring our customers the best products possible.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

Sustainable business practices are extremely important, especially in the food industry, because the global population is above 8 billion people. With that many people to feed, we need to find more efficient ways to grow our food, producing quality food without depleting the land and resources available.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Sustainable business practices are important to the consumer because, very simply, everybody eats. We need to make sure that current and future generations work toward business practices that leave our food and our planet in better condition than we found it. Customers want to know that they are purchasing from producers that harvest products responsibly.