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Market based solutions to preserving monarch butterfly habitat started with Monarch Flyway, a dream that has evolved since 1987. To date, Monarch Flyway is the oldest and most successful milkweed company in history.

Herb Knudsen was a patent attorney for SOHIO (Standard Oil of Ohio). After traveling the world and using his skills to defend and create patents for the oil company, he was ready for a change. When a position opened in New Ventures at SOHIO, he was intrigued and became Vice President of the division. SOHIO worked on 11 innovative projects at one time, one of which was “The Milkweed Project”, where they initially were trying to create a biofuel from the plant. When the oil crisis of the 70’s ended, they turned their attention to the fiber and oil of the plant for consumer products.


When British Petroleum took over management of SOHIO in 1986, they eliminated all activities that did not include fossil fuels, one of which was The Milkweed Project. After serious consideration and a lot of optimism, Herb purchased the milkweed project from SOHIO and started a new life as an entrepreneur when he founded Natural Fibers Corporation, dba Monarch Flyway.

Monarch Flyway works to develop businesses and work with partners to use sustainably sourced milkweed materials. From his work with SOHIO, many product ideas were generated but not implemented. Monarch Flyway currently sells milkweed planting seed, milkweed seed oil, and milkweed floss to innovative companies looking to develop environmentally beneficial products.

At Sustainable Monarch, we have taken the nonprofit activities of education, conservation, social justice, and research that Monarch Flyway started and moved them to an actual nonprofit. We are grateful to have the support and knowledge base of Herb Knudsen’s daughter, Debbie Dekleva who is the Founder and President of Sustainable Monarch.

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