Troy and Diann Huffaker have been interested in herbs for years, but it took a small child to convince them to turn their passion into a business.
Troy, who worked in restaurants, has been into herbs for about 25 years. He wanted to learn how to make the tasty meals at home that he made at work. Diann has been growing herbs for about 15 years to use in tea.
Producing their own herbs grew into more than a hobby when the couple gained custody of their 3-year-old granddaughter, Lia. That's when the company bearing their initials–DTL Herbs–was created.
“We started the business to provide for her,” Troy Huffaker said. “The point of the business is based on Lia. (She) goes to several of the markets with me and she is familiar with our products.”
The family gardens in Wyandotte, Gibraltar, Rockwood and New Boston, where they do urban farming. The Huffakers, who live in Gibraltar, have agreements with family and friends to allow them to use their property and water to garden in exchange for access to what herbs they need.
Most of what the Huffakers sell are products made from their herbs such as jellies, dry rubs, dips and dried herb mixes. DTL Herbs currently sells Jalapeno Jelly; Garlic Jelly; Cilantro, Lime & Pepper Jelly; Lemon Verbena & Rosemary Jelly and Applemint Jelly; Farmers Blend, Ranchers Blend and Hunters Blend Dry Rubs; All Purpose Seasoning Blend, Chive and Dill Vegi Dip, Poultry Seasoning, Dipping Oil Herb Blend, and an herbal salt scrub.
DTL Herbs sells their goods at six farmers markets: Allen Park, Brownstown, Livonia, Redford, Wayne and Wyandotte.
Huffaker said the , which is held weekly from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays at the corner of First and Elm streets, is one of the best.
“The city is supportive, the people are fun and ... go out of their way to visit us,” he said. “There is excitement there.”
Besides selling products, Huffaker said, he does a lot of public education about herbs.
“We grow everything with no chemicals at all," he said. "It’s all grown naturally, which is becoming more and more important with urban gardening. You are doing it right where kids are playing, etc."
Huffaker takes his lessons on the road, working with extension centers and public libraries to spread the message. He also has a partnership with where he teaches students about herbs.
“Herbs are such a healthy way to replace sodium in foods and make things taste better more naturally," he said. "As a society, we can move towards healthier eating.”