Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 59

FACING PAGE: A
small drop of liquid
delivers a powerful
punch of memory.
FACING PAGE
LOWER: Ian
Montgomery inspects
a plot of backyard bee
balm beside gurgling
Pine Branch.
LEFT: Hemlock
limbs, rescued from a
construction site, await
distilling.

you got a real tree this year!"
She is actually smelling strips of cloth
that her mom saturated with Fraser-fir oil
and hid in her plastic tree.
Montgomery, 36, has long been passionate about conservation. When at the
University of North Carolina at Asheville,
he delved into botany. He then earned an
M.B.A. in sustainable enterprise at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

A former girlfriend introduced him to
essential oils-a plant's moisture distilled
into a liquid for diffusers, perfumes, soap
and aromatherapy products.
"I was just blown away, it smelled
so much like the original plant," he
remembers.
He thought at first that producing the
luscious scents was big business and therefore beyond his reach.
Then, realizing his love of plants wasn't
going away, and taking stock of his experience in metalworking and nursery management, he thought, "I can do this."
He could make a product that would
retain the essence of a plant, yet be less
expensive to produce than a fresh crop, of,
say, lettuce.
After Christmas of 2015, when he'd
moved back to Asheville and was building an essential-oils still from "found"
parts on the Internet, he discovered a treasure trove of discarded Christmas trees in
neighbors' yards.
"I drove that Explorer all over Asheville," picking up trees, he remembers. He
stacked 25 in the backyard, and using the
still that shared his home's basement with
a washer and dryer, he proceeded to turn
them into oil.
He'd researched native oils on the Internet, he says, but "I couldn't come up
with red spruce, white pine, Fraser fir. I
did come across some hemlock oil, but it
was rare, and Canadian."
He figured rightly that specializing in
native plants would give him a leg up in
such a market.
That year, "it just took off," he says. It

was wild." He barely had enough Fraser fir
oil to make it through Christmas.
His customers, he says, "love the
mountains," and his best-seller is a 5-ml
bottle of Fraser fir oil, at $8.
He sells online, at a local farmers market, and through retail shops in Asheville
and across the country. Until he can make
the oil a full-time enterprise, he supplements his income by serving as business
consultant to an Asheville group.
By 2016, he was able to move himself,
his 16-year-old shepherd mix Jodi and an
orange cat named Tito to his present 45
leased acres.
Pine Branch gurgles behind the cabin,
there's space for stacking trees-in-waiting
across the dirt road, and his neighbors,
when not feeding deer and wild turkey,
tip him to trees felled by storms or home
construction.
He follows electric co-op crews when
they're trimming rights-of-way. He grows
some herbs, and dickers with other growers for cold-damaged plants or those considered too ugly to package.
He's a member of the international
Artisan Essential Oil Distillers, who advised him not to subject the delicate
smell of honeysuckle to the heat of a
still. He ignored the advice and ended up
with mush.
The experience taught him that, when
distilling other delicate scents like sweet
shrub and spice bush, he should ignore
the flowers in favor of the branches. His
hammer mill strips the bark before distillation, and the smell is just like jasmine, he
says. "Incomparable."
Perhaps his biggest coup was 10 acres
of trees from an overgrown Christmas-tree
farm in the state's Roan Highlands. Two
conservation groups wanted to lure back
the Golden-winged warbler, which prefers
a shrubby habitat.
Montgomery was happy to take 95
trees off the hands of a very-pleased Audubon Society and Southern Appalachian
Highlands Conservancy.
The birds apparently are happy, too.
They've started coming back, Audubon
says.
blueridgearomatics.com.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018

59


http://www.blueridgearomatics.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018

Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 43
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 46
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 48
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 70
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 73
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2018 - Cover4
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