Organic Production and Marketing of Forest Medicinals: Building and Supporting a Learning Community Among Growers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $106,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Dennis Hosack
Rural Action- Appalachian Forest Resource Center

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Organic Production and Marketing of Forest Medicinals: Building and Supporting a Learning Community Among Growers

    The Appalachian region of Ohio has experienced severe economic distress up to the present day. In the hilly terrain there are very few full-time farmers left and the land has experienced fragmentation due to development. At the same time reverting tree cover and hills provide prime micro-climates for cultivation of high value medicinal plants native to the area.

    With prime growing sites and interest in the region form medicinal products purchasers, prime opportunities exist for ecologically and economically sound production of these plants. Properly grown wild-simulated ginseng brings $300/pound and is very ecologically sound, whereas improperly grown ginseng can bring only $20/pound and require major applications of fungicides. Already ginseng sales account for between $1 and $2 million/year in Ohio.

    The project team from Roots of Appalachia Growers Association (RAGA), Rural Action, and OSU Extension will 1. Support RAGA in developing a learning network among growers 2. Close the disconnect between grower knowledge and needs and researchers' activity, and 3. Support RAGA in effectively entering the marketplace, selling plantings that are now coming to maturity. Activities will include field days at RAGA growers' farms, learning network meetings with growers and researchers, educational sessions and materials development on cultivation and marketing, and support for grower leaders to attend Natural Products Expo East and other natural products trade events to link with buyers. Evaluation will include both process and outcome measures, including continuous evaluation by project team and other producers.

    Total participation in educational events will be 500, with 75 persons diversifying their farm operations by cultivating native medicinals and 25 existing growers switching to more ecological and economic cultivation practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Organic Production and Marketing of Forest Medicinals: Building and Supporting a Learning Community Among Growers

    Project Outcomes

    Short Term:
    Growers will have knowledge of organic growing practices for woodland cultivation of ginseng, goldenseal, and other native medicinal plant crops.
    Growers will gain knowledge of current market conditions and opportunities around the production of ginseng, goldenseal, and other native medicinal plant crops;
    Grower knowledge will be shared between growers and shared with researchers along with grower information needs;
    Over 100 growers will participate in one or more peer learning and education events sponsored by RAGA.

    Intermediate Term:
    At least 75 growers will have native medicinal plants under woodland cultivation;
    25 will begin using the best practices suggested by our research results;
    At least 10 growers will make sales based on market information that we provide and will receive 150% or more of the price paid by local buyers;
    Membership in RAGA will increase to 100 members by the end of the project.

    Long Term:
    Our region, led by RAGA as a string and growing cooperative offering education and marketing services, will have a thriving woodland medicinal plant industry, resulting in increased income and diversification for farmers and increased biodiversity and woodland health.

    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.