Area Guide | Food | Wellness

Q&A with Minde Herbert from Sea Island Organics

Johns Island has a deep history of creating and growing great food and is home to several farms, including Kiawah River Farm. This rich agricultural past no doubt inspired local resident Minde Herbert to start Sea Island Organics, an elderberry product company, in 2007. Minde is Kiawah River’s most recent addition to our CSA program.    

We sat down with Minde to learn more about Sea Island Organics and the top health and wellness benefits of elderberry.   

What is Elderberry syrup? Explain your process of making it.
Elderberry syrup is a century-old, immune-strengthening food featuring tiny, dark purple, nutrient-rich elderberries and is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world. Elderberry syrup has even been traced back to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the “father of medicine,” who described the plant as his “medicine chest” because of the berry’s wide array of health benefits. The syrup is typically made by cooking down the berries then adding spices and honey. Sea Island Organics locally crafted small-batch elderberry syrup is made with a proprietary process that maximizes the nutritional value of its organic ingredients, which results in a product with half the added sweetener of other products on the market. 

What was your inspiration for starting Sea Island Organics?
As a culinary educator, nutritionist and mom of twins, my inspiration to develop no-nonsense elderberry products was guided by my personal motto: “How can I make this better?” Other elderberry syrups sit on the shelf for months and are often too sweet and overly processed. Fifteen years ago, I created a freshly made, clean product that I would want to give to my own children. 

What are you the most passionate about in your business?
It brings me joy to create delicious products that help people stay well. We do this by using the best mix of certified organic ingredients from local and regional purveyors such as Oconee Valley artesian water, raw, local honey from R&R Acres and organic ginger grown on Johns Island. Our premium berries have a deep, dark color that indicates freshness and potency. Every ingredient is intentional and selected for its added health benefits.   

What products do you offer and what is the most popular?
In addition to organic elderberry syrup, Sea Island Organics handcrafts caffeine-free elderberry herbal tea blends made with certified organic ingredients, craft-it-yourself elderberry syrup making kits, elderberry mulling spices and elderberry iced tea. This year we plan to add a few more products so be sure to check our website for updates. 

What are the top health and wellness benefits of elderberry syrup?
Elderberries are a power-packed superfood and naturally rich in antioxidants, which help strengthen the immune system and are excellent brain food. They’re also high in vitamins A, B6, and C, iron, potassium and several other essential nutrients. Studies have shown that when elderberry is taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, it could shorten the duration of those symptoms by an average of four days.   

How is Sea Island Organics different from other similar products?
We take pride in our quality, integrity and taste. Sea Island Organics’ elderberry products are the only such products in the Lowcountry to earn the CERTIFIED SC designation and the “Certified Authentic, 100% Handmade in Charleston” award from Charleston Mayor Tecklenburg.    

What is your favorite part about operating your business on Johns Island?
This area has a deep history of creating and growing great food. We are thankful that the Johns Island community has rallied for us from the very start when our syrup was still in Mason jars, and we were delivering to neighbors’ porches. Now, in addition to participating in Kiawah River’s CSA, we have retail partners on Johns Island, participate in farmers’ markets, ship nationwide and still happily offer porch delivery.

What Sea Island Organics products are offered in Kiawah River’s CSA program?
Organic elderberry syrup (8 oz. and 16 oz.) and elderberry comfort tea, an herbal blend of gut-soothing ginger, lemon and elderberry.   

What do you enjoy most about working with Kiawah River?
Kiawah River’s commitment to quality, integrity and sustainability aligns with our brand values. They strive to bring the best to their community, and we are honored that our trusted products were selected for its CSA program.