Lillie Belle Farms is situated at the entrance to the Applegate Valley region in beautiful Southern Oregon. Owners Jeff, Belle and Lillie Shepherd have made their farm into a Certified Organic producer of Marionberries, Strawberries, and Raspberries. The rich soil of the Applegate Valley is where all the berries in Lillie Belle’s chocolates are grown. Owner Jeff Shepherd sums up the company’s mission best in his own words: ‘The most important aspect of what we do [is] how does it make you feel?
It’s certainly not trying to impress people with the backbreaking labor of growing your own fruit, nor always meeting the crushing holiday deadlines. No. Is it the constant search for the perfect ingredients and flavor combinations? No, that’s all part of the process itself and that is merely the artisan aspect of it. When someone tells me “that was amazing,” I am always humbled and, truth be told, a bit shy about it. All I can ever hope for, doing what I do, is to make people happy with my creations. To brighten their day, even if it’s for only a moment, with something I made with my hands. People always ask me, “Is it fun?”. Let me assure you that making chocolates is a lot of fun.
Having spent some 20 odd years in the restaurant business, starting my own chocolate company came with an unexpected twist: it became successful quickly. Six years ago I was making four flavors of truffles on my home kitchen counter and selling them at local farmers markets. Now it’s a full time, seven day a week, nine full time employee, sleep depriving nightmare of joyous proportions. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.”