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Well Sweep celebrating business after 47 years

By JANE PRIMERANO
AFP Correspondent

MANSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Warren County (Sept. 1, 2016) — The afternoon sun warms rambling beds of herbs as the spray from David Hyde’s hose creates rainbows in the humid air.
Well Sweep Herb Farm, the Hyde family business for 47 years, is still going strong.
Tucked in a secluded corner of busy Mansfield Township, Warren County, Well Sweep continues to provide a unique selection of herbs to commercial and residential customers.
With more than 1,900 varieties of herbs, the Hydes continue to introduce new varieties. Seventy-six were brought in for the 2016 season.
Medicinal herbs are increasing in popularity as people turn away from traditional medicine, David Hyde said during breaks from watering.
In addition, “everybody’s looking for something unusual for their gardens,” he said.
Experiencing a run in popularity are carnivorous plants. He said he can’t exactly explain why.
The pollinator crisis has pushed many customers looking for plants to attract bees and butterflies. Well Sweep’s four beehives have not suffered a collapse, Hyde said. He has a professional apiarist who cares for the hives, making sure they over-winter well. She makes honey which is sold in the gift shop.
David Hyde has been taking over the business gradually from his aging parents for the past 10 or 15 years, he said, but Cyrus and Louise Hyde are still very much part of the farm.
Louise runs the gift shop. She said the best sellers are dried flowers, wreathes, potpourri and aromatic oils. The shelves are also full of herb-based cookbooks, cards and farm-themed items for the home. The shop is open and airy for all its merchandise and Louise Hyde’s expertise is a welcome commodity to her customers. On a recent afternoon she was explaining the difference between lemon balm and lemon verbena to a customer.
Cyrus Hyde keeps busy with his Phoenix chickens. The ancient Japanese breed is known for being high maintenance and for having tails that grow up to 26 feet.
David Hyde is proud of the legacy his family has left in the county. “Customers come back and say they have a bay tree they bought here 35 years ago,” he said. “People remember they got it here and how long they’ve had it successfully.”
Well Sweep runs with five full-time employees, mostly family, and a number of part-timers depending on the season.
The farm has a website, but Hyde said he still prefers to sell in person.
“I’m doing more on the ne, but I don’t take online orders. I would rather talk to customers than package plants for shipping.”
Customers seem to like that method too.
They ask questions or just chat about their own herb gardens.
The well-kept and precisely labeled beds and personal service are keeping Well Sweep busy and successful.