The Indiana Botanic Gardens is the nation’s biggest and oldest retailer of herbs.

The Manufacturer

Born in Wisconsin in 1878, Joseph E. Meyer had an early interest in plants and the outdoors. His father, a photographer, sometimes accompanied Meyer on trips into forests and farms. He learned a great lot about numerous parts of nature from this location. Meyer’s family and financial circumstances compelled him to briefly abandon nature and pursue a profession in printing. Meyer quickly found himself working at a huge printer in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, a strike halted printing operations, and Meyer began working for The Hammond Times.

After relocating to Hammond, Meyer planned to establish a printing-related firm. Meyer recognized that he understood a great deal about printing and even more about nature after evaluating his skill set. Due to his possession of an antique printing machine and extensive understanding of natural medicines, a firm that sold herbs via catalog would be a lucrative business venture. The Indiana Botanic Gardens were born from the combination of these two interests.

The Corporation

Indiana Botanic Gardens is the name of a privately held, family-run firm in the vitamin and herbal supplement market. The Indiana Botanic Gardens have a nearly century-long heritage in the Northwest Indiana region. Its history may be found in botanical and herbal sources, as well as Calumet Region historical literature. Joseph Meyer (1878–1950), a horticulturist and herbalist, built the Indiana Botanic Gardens in a little cottage in the backyard of his Hammond, Indiana, house in 1910.

Initially known as the Indiana Herb Gardens, the company barely supported the Meyer family, which eventually comprised seven boys and one girl. Elder Meyer boys assisted their father in expanding the company by harvesting herbs from adjacent farms. Throughout the day, the family packed boxes, completed orders, fed the printing machine, and folded circulars. The Meyers’ daily responsibilities frequently extended into their evenings, when they bound catalogs with needles and thread.

The Botanist

As soon as the firm became self-sufficient, it relocated from Meyer’s cottage to a bigger structure on Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana. Joseph E. Meyer released a 400-page book entitled The Herbalist in 1918, due in part to his background as a printer. The Herbalist Almanac, an annual periodical, was published in 1925, seven years later. The Herbalist Almanac was a pamphlet that included inventories of the herbs and roots that the firm supplied, as well as recipes, Indian weather forecasts, cures for common maladies, popular songs of the day, and farming advice. After fifty-four years of publication, The Herbalist Almanac ceased publishing in 1979. There are still available vintage editions of The Herbalist Almanac, some dating back to the 1950s, which may be acquired online through book stores and eBay. Numerous collectors and agricultural, botanical, and horticultural aficionados own copies. In several horticulture courses, colleges and universities continue to study and employ the almanac for teaching reasons. The University of Florida also helped in the preservation effort, and its collection of rare books includes multiple almanacs dating from 1929 to 1971. The Herbalist is available in the Smithsonian Institution Library.

Down the Line

Meyer acquired a wild area of property along the Little Calumet River later in 1925. The terrain was abundant with medicinal plants, shrubs, and virgin woodland. A year later, in 1926, this bountiful site will become the Indiana Botanic Gardens, a newly established institution. A 36,000-square-foot English gabled structure now housed the offices and warehouse. The 10-acre grounds and gardens were packed with exquisite landscaping and architecture. There was also a mill on the site where all of the botanicals were produced.

Meyer traveled to all regions of North America over the following few years to collect samples and information about native plants and their applications. He received correspondence from universities, libraries, botanists, and individuals of all ranks on a global scale. In 1932, he journeyed to Europe in search of uncommon herbs. During the time of Joseph Meyer, self-treatment with herbs was prevalent and frequently essential owing to economic difficulties or a lack of access to professional medical care. Meyer committed his life to supplying people with herbs, and several appreciative clients submitted letters and recipes praising the advantages. This information was utilized to build The Old Herb Doctor so that other customers may learn how other customers used herbs and the positive effects they received.

Past and Now

The firm has been passed down from generation to generation to his grandson David Meyer, who is still an active member of the group, and to his great-grandson Tim Cleland, the company’s current president. In 1990, the firm relocated to a more contemporary site in Hobart, Indiana, which is also the location of our Franklin Pest Control operation. In addition to being a distributor of bulk herbals, Indiana Botanic Gardens distributes vitamins, essential oils, teas, beauty care items, and other nutritional supplements, while no longer being a herb producer. The Hobart site carries the majority of the Botanic Choice brand in its retail store and also sells wholesale items. With the re-launch of their website in May 2008, the Indiana Botanic Gardens have been focusing on expanding their online operations. The majority of their revenue is still derived from mail-order catalog sales, but since the re-launch of their website, they have been concentrating on expanding their online operations.

Find out more about the gardens and the Hobart Carnegie Library on our website now or call (219)600-4910 for pest control help.

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