Inside the upper portion of a Mockingbird Meadows barn are rows of custom-made drying racks filled with plants from the numerous gardens located on the property.
Chamomile, comfrey, nettles, rose petals and sage are among the herbs placed on mesh wire to dry before being used in products sold by the owners of the honey and herb farm.
Dawn Combs and her husband, Carson, moved to the 3.5-acre property off of Burns Road about a decade ago. Combs said her father began tilling the ground for two gardens as they were signing papers to close on the property.
About six years ago she decided to start selling plants and products made with items from her garden.
Combs, who left her job in the corporate world to focus on having a business where she could raise her children and watch them grow, started by selling nettles, bubble bath and honey at a central Ohio farmers market.
At first, she had some trouble selling the nettles.
“People would see the nettles, but wouldn’t buy them because they weren’t sure what to do with them,” she said.
Now, she has trouble growing and keeping enough nettles to supply patrons at the farmers markets.
She primarily sells items at the Worthington and New Albany farmers markets. She said she has gone to others in the past, but now focuses on those two.
Combs said she began looking to plants as a way to rebalance her health after learning from a doctor that she was infertile. After changing her diet and improving her health, she now has two children.
Combs said she believes food can help people with their health problems.
“Our medicine needs to be our food,” she said.
The greatest health problems among most people who seek her herbal advice, she said, are nervous system and digestive issues. Combs began writing a newsletter to educate people on common health issues and how to use herbs to address them. She said she harvests for both food and for medicine.
She said small changes tend to have the biggest impact on people.
“It’s the little things, the small changes that change your life,” she said.
Mockingbird Meadows is also home to a number of bees. Combs began harvesting honey from just one hive near a conifer tree in the back near the greenhouse. Mockingbirds nested in the tree near the hive.
She saw this as a blessing and she decided to name the property and business Mockingbird Meadows. Her husband constructs the hives in addition to helping with cultivation and honey harvesting.
Homesteading has been a learning process, according to Combs.
“If it doesn’t work, then we try something else,” she said.
She also said she doesn’t try to fight Mother Nature because “Mother Nature always wins.”
Combs said she plans to eventually move toward operating a rose farm and focusing on selling her herbal infused honey spreads. She and her husband hope to do a limited edition batch of rose-infused mead, as well, she said.
The herb-infused honey is used by many restaurants and bars in alcoholic beverages. Middle West Sprits puts it in its OYO products and M Miranova uses the infused honey in its specialty drinks, according to Combs.
She said she believes in giving back to the community. In addition to writing the newsletter, Combs gives farm tours, hosts farm dinners and works in her gardens. She also will be a presenter at the Mother Earth News fairs in Pennsylvania and Kansas and has just completed a book, which she hopes will be released soon.
Mother Earth News has named Carson and Dawn Combs to its 2013 class of six Homesteaders of the Year. The couple will be profiled in the August/September issue, which goes on sale July 23.
Mockingbird Meadows products are sold at Celebrate Local, Gahanna’s Herb Education Center, at an apothecary on the farm, at special events and online.
More information is available at www.mockingbirdmeadows.com.