- Additional Plants: ginseng, herbs, native plants
- Crop Production: agroforestry, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, double cropping, forest farming, forest/woodlot management, forestry, intercropping, multiple cropping, no-till, seed saving, varieties and cultivars
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture, organic certification, permaculture
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, other
Greenhill Farm NH has an eighteen year history of producing sustainable certified organic produce, products and herbs in central New Hampshire. With climate change looming, we are reluctant to cut down parts of our forest to expand cultivation and grazing. Instead, we believe that adding to our forests by growing medicinal herbs is a more sustainable approach. As the farm looks for additional markets, we see agroforestry as a sustainable way forward. This agroforestry goal dovetails with my research on growing medicinal herbs and desire to create a healthy market for medicinal herb growers in New England. In this project, I will research and implement best production practices in developing a system to commercially grow four rare, native medicinal herbs: goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, and ginseng.
This SARE farmer grant is timely and important as these four plants have been decimated locally through overharvesting. With a greater demand in medicinal herbs, wild foraging has continued as well as the importation of plant material from overseas. Imported herbs are genetically different and harvesting methods, potency and identification can be questionable. Increasing production of our own stock and meeting demands locally is important for sustainability of these important plants in the medicinal herb markets and NH forests.
In this project, I will further research best management practices in propagating these species in a forested environment and identify the factors that could lead to increased availability of locally sourced medicinal herbs regionally.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to demonstrate a agroforestry production method of growing 4 rare forest medicinal herbs in central New Hampshire . The objectives are
1. To demonstrate the viability of growing valuable understory medicinal herbs in under utilized forest lands of NH as a cash crop
2. To demonstrate that forest land can be used by NH farmers in other ways besides clearing or timber cuts
3. To create a sustainable economic opportunity with significant environmental benefit through reintroduction of native plant populations for NH farmers.
4. To reduce wildcrafting pressure on rare and endangered plant populations but adopting cultivation and wild simulated practices.
5. To determine a production method or combination of methods that works best for NH Farmers
6. To begin creation and collaboration for a marketing platform and resources for NH and Northeast farmers such as an Herb Hub
With technical assistance, we hope to create methods that will support a successful harvest of goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh and American ginseng in the plots we have planted. If we are successful, this project may lead to a method and the possibility of additional valuable forest medicinals that could be grown in NH forests.