Pioneering the Way to the Future

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2002: $6,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Southern
State: Oklahoma
Principal Investigator:
Diann Neal
Okemah Chamber of Commerce

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Sustainable Communities: community development


    Our project “Pioneering The Way to the Future” began as a strategy to give meaning to the current Pioneer Day Festival. We wanted to encourage Economic Development that would include every size producer. We envisioned an Herb Festival that would provide education concerning Sustainable Agriculture. We also obtained an agreement to begin research into a study of the feasibility of raising Echinacea. The community profile consisted of routine farming practices such as cattle, hay, hogs and goats. The average size farm is 40-80 acres. Our community has consistently been comprised of one of the highest unemployment percentages in the State of Oklahoma. One of our strongest attractions is that this area is in close proximity to Interstate 40 and centrally located between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the two largest cities in Oklahoma. Thus the goal of our project was to demonstrate that Sustainable Agriculture through the raising of Echinacea was feasible for any size or type of producer in an economically disadvantaged rural setting.



    Echinacea is a perennial, medicinal plant commonly called “purple cone flower” or “snake root”. Echinos is Greek for “hedgehog”, thus the name applies to the prickly spines of the center of the flower which produces the seeds. This plant grows from 1-3 ft. tall. It is drought resistant but likes irrigation and well drained soil. It also prefers sunny conditions. There are nine species ranging from East of the Rocky Mountains Westward to Missouri and North to Wisconsin or even as far as areas in Southern Canada.
    “Snake Root” comes to us from the Seneca nation of Native Americans. They commonly used this herb for a range of problems including snake bites. Echinacea has excellent expectorant effects and a general power of stimulating secretion.
    Echinacea has a wonderful history of being used for everything from a primary medicinal “cure-all” to being a blood purifier.

    Project objectives:

    1. Give meaning to the current Pioneer Day Festival.

      Educate citizens about diverse areas of sustainable agriculture.

      Build a market for local producers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.