Neem Tree Farms
We started growing neem in 1992 as USDA certified organic (Rick Martinez did our inspections) but quickly discovered that we were too far north to be successful. Right about that time, the Internet came into being and we started selling the certified organic trees online. Then the US government took over the certification process and we didn’t have enough land to buffer our plants and a friend asked us to become part of his then-USDA certified organic neem farm in Mexico. We kept growing the trees in Florida, chemical free but not certified, and selling his certified raw materials until the government got so difficult about every step of the process being certified. We now buy the chemical-free raw materials from Mexico and Certified oil from India but can’t sell them as certified because our facilities aren’t (and won’t be because we rescue dogs and they’re constantly under my feet when I’m outside). The government again requires that we buy the EPA-registered oil that can actually be labeled as a pesticide from an EPA-approved facility. It comes from the same company in India that produces the certified organic oil. There is, and probably never will be, a US grown neem oil unless climate change goes back to global warming…
Our soap is made is a small village in Mexico (so small the whole town has three telephones!) by women who never expected to find paying jobs. We’ve put a number of kids into private schools and allowed two women to leave men who were abusing them. We’ll never pull the soap production to the U.S.
We do, however, make our all-natural neem skincare products here (not the ones with chemicals, those are beyond my current skill set). We probably will never receive government approval to sell insect repellents but they’re very effective in preventing bites as well as “curing” all kinds of skin issues that modern medicine hasn’t been able to tackle.
We’d love to be part of your co-op, I’m sure Eric will tell you I made regular contributions to his efforts, but we’ll absolutely understand if you decide we don’t meet your criteria.