William Hayward has been called the Johnny Appleseed of stevia. In 1967, he heard a lecture at Davis University in California by professor Clinton Shock. The topic was a plant, Stevia rebaudiana Passer, which grew the in Rio Munday valley in Paraguay. William started growing plants from cutting and gave away about 100 plants a month, primarily to diabetics. When William was in Brazil in 1981, the Guarani Indians introduced him to Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (named after its discoverer Bertoni). It was sweeter, less bitter, more gentle than the Passer Plant. William's family had a history of diabetes. Soon William had everybody in his family growing and using Stevia. In 1986, William began selling the plants and by 1994 he had connections around the world in the research community. He was given many versions of stevia and developed a superior tasting variety. In 1996, William received a special plant which a healer and herbalist had been growing from cuttings for several years. This new plant was the key which William used to develop his own stevia plant, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni R42. William is researcher 42. His plant is not a genetically modified and is certified by him as to specie. It has an especially large leaf and is sweet without the common licorice aftertaste.
William's dedication to quality is lifelong. No artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, alcohols or sugars are used in any of the products. They contain no animal or dairy products. They are free from hormones, pesticides and fungicides.
The name Whispering Hills Vineyard Corporation comes from William's involvement with the Association of BC Grape Growers, the BC Wine Institute, the Vintners Quality Assurance Program, BC Tree Fruit Association, BC Herb Growers Association. The greenhouses in which the stevia is grown are located in Lavington, just east of Vernon, BC. William keeps busy wearing many hats. He has forged good relations with all the regulatory agencies, although sometimes it seems lake an uphill battle (rather than Whispering Hills one). He has also found time to mount a sales effort to get certified organic stevia recognized for its unique value to those who want to live a healthy life in harmony with nature. Throughout the summer mont hs, he can be seen standing all day long in the hot sun in farmer's markets chatting to everyone who will listen about his first love, the amazing plant Stevia and how she changed his life from a borderline diabetic to a tireless crusader - all the while sipping on a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon and a shot of stevia.