Village Farmacy and Herb Collector

Project Overview

FS24-372
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $20,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Southern Sky Center for Diverse Arts and Culture
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Eda Garcia
Southern Sky Center for Diverse Arts and Culture

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal summary:

With the growing interest in herb plants and seeds in the United
States and beyond, it would stand to reason that with the proper
training and experience, a new farmer or an existing farmer could
venture into herb plants and seeds as a cash crop in the state of
Georgia. Not much land is needed to produce a variety of popular
herbs and the market is available via social media, on retail
media networks like Amazon and through collaboratives like the
Common Market in Atlanta, GA. Gone on the days when one has to
depend on foot traffic to make a dollar.

The Village Community Garden farm project will launch the Village
Farmacy and Herb Collector project as a demonstration and
training site for herb production and will engage its existing
community members and surrounding rural counties and beyond from
seed to market. The project also seeks to provide research on
herbs that are not readily available in the stores or in Georgia.
For example, with the assistance of University of Georgia, Dr.
Greg Fonsah planted forty-one banana plants at the farm project
to demonstrate that bananas can grow in Georgia. The Village
Farmacy and Herb Collector is also interested in growing and
cultivating unusual seeds like saffron which is normally grown in
the Middle East. However, a couple of people in Vermont along
with the University of Vermont seem to be growing the herb
successfully.

The Village Farmacy and Herb Collector project will expand our
current farming practice to include an entrepreneurial and
agriculture business focus ventures focused on herb and seed
production as a cash crop. We expect to expand our educational
outreach to include business practices needed to make a living
with farming. We will experiment with growing herbs three ways -
in aeroponic towers, perennial peanuts as ground cover and on
raised beds with plastic.

The expected outcome is that minority and under-served farmers
can encourage each other through collaborations with innovative
techniques, economic growth, healthy living, food security and
improved quality of life. Southern Sky Center endeavors to assist
minority and under-served farmers to create a livelihood from
their land. Encouraging more farmers of color and under-served
communities to enter the field of agriculture is the overarching
goal of the project. The vulnerable populations of Worth County,
Dougherty County and beyond, youth, and new generation farmers
and farm enthusiast, food producers and the society at large will
be significantly impacted by this project.

For the last ten years, Southern Sky continues to work and expand
our reach to new farmers and farm enthusiasts. Therefore, the
farm project has gained considerable recognition through the
years and we are already training and working with several
farmers interested in replicating the Village Community Garden
farm project.  As it stands, vegetable growers may consider
growing herbs and, they usually think of fresh-market herbs.
Fresh market herbs can be grown on large acreages for sales to
wholesalers and chain stores or on very small acreages for direct
sales to restaurants, farmer’s markets, and specialty grocery
stores. Finding the resources for getting started in fresh-market
herb production are now readily available with the popularity of
herbs and naturopath

Project objectives from proposal:

One of the most important cultural considerations for herbs is
site selection which has already been selected. The site has good
drainage, adequate water supply, and we will utilize black
plastic which has been prepping the land for the last two years.
Black plastic had the best results for reducing weeds. 
Also, twenty-five aeroponic will grow herbs. Ten towers grow the
equivalent of 2 acres of food. The aeroponic towers are housed in
the hoop house which will also be used for seedling before
transplanting. Our partner at 1Dog Ventures LLC will assist the
project with herb fertilization as they have an expertise
throughtheir citrus production.

The Village Farmacy and Herb Collector project will market the
seeds and the herb plants.  There will be a high demand for
bedding plants in the spring and the fall. We expect to use our
existing hoop house for now because it will produce a variety of
herbs including annuals and perennials. The herb plants can be
sold in many ways including mail order, specialty shops,
nurseries, and spring fairs and festivals.

The key to being successful with herbs is the marketing. There is
such a diversity of herbs and herb products, therefore there are
many opportunities for all size herb operations. There’s also the
opportunity to produce value-added products from the herbs.
Because the herbal industry is new to most new and existing
farmers, the Village Farmacy and Herb Collector project will
utilize the farm and the demonstration site to educate the
public.

When harvesting the herbs, planning ahead to identify when to
harvest and what needs to be harvested from the plant is pivotal
since not all herb parts are harvested the same way. There is so
much to learn about herbs as medicine. However, now more than
ever, resource information is now available to laymen.  Post
harvest handling is also significant to understand in order to
not damage the roots and herbs.

Throughout the project, the plan is to adhere to seven industry
specific Key Performance indicators for herb farming which is
imperative to measuring success. The initial measures performed
will be quantitative and will include annual herb yield and sales
volume. By tracking annual yield will help with productivity and
profitability for the farm operation. It will also allow for any
modification and areas of improvement when necessary. Once the
product is present to market, quantitative research will measure
customer satisfaction through surveys and after sales ratings,
sales growth rate, sales volume, herb quality rating and return
on investment (ROI). 

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.