Monmouth men building hedgeball oil empire

A new company in Monmouth is the world’s largest manufacturer of oil produced from hedgeballs, the bumpy green fruit that falls off of hedge shrubs.

The company called HTO extracts the seeds from hedgeballs and cold presses oil from the seeds.which they sell to companies to make into cosmetics, essential oils and pharmaceuticals.

While the U.S. government has long known about the benefits of the oil, Mark Hockenberry and John Twomey figured out through years of research how to over come the main obstacle in making the oil, finding enough of the fruits to make production feasible.

They are currently sitting on 400 tons of the fruit that falls off of shrubs, partly from the assistance of members of the community bringing them in but mostly from buying them from farmers growing them in bulk like any other cash crop.

Dating back to the 1930’s the United State government has done studies on the benefits of oil from the hedgeball plant.

Hedgeballs go for $180.00 a ton and right now Hockenberry says they have 400 tons on site.

Hockenberry says that HTO has also gotten assistance from members of the community, saing “..we figured, let’s reach out – just like you would for the corn. Farmers bringing the corn to you, you buy it at a good price. That’s how we figured out how to bring it in.”

He hopes to set up 5 to 6 more facilities in the next three years.

HTO has bought the building which was formerly City Ford and Dexter Farm and Equipment to operate out of and have done extensive renovations.

They hope to start full-scale production on the site by Thursday.