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

2006 Annual Report for LNC05-256

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

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. Reverting tree cover and hills provide prime microclimates for cultivation of high value medicinal plants native to the area.

With prime growing sites and interest in the region from products purchasers, prime opportunities exist for sound production of these plants. Ginseng sales account for between $1 and $2 million/year in Ohio.

Roots of Appalachia Growers Association (RAGA), Rural Action, and OSU Extension will support RAGA in developing a learning network among growers, close the disconnect between grower knowledge and needs and researchers' activity, and support RAGA in entering the marketplace.

Objectives/Performance Targets


1 grower learning-meetings involving 50 persons, including researchers, extension, and other nonprofit.

3 crop fact sheets coauthored with OSU Extension.

1 research summary sharing results from existing research trials in a form useable by growers.

4 grower-network field days involving 60 persons hosted by RAGA.

1 market update circulated to 200 persons as well as ongoing updates via list-serv.

A tour for 4-10 medicinal plant buyers from the US and China.

3 in-depth marketing-oriented sessions at conferences or workshops attended by 45 persons.

4 trips for growers to natural products industry events.

2 sessions on quality and value-adding attended by 30 persons.

2 Landowner Income Opportunities conferences featuring cultivation practices, market tips and other topics about forest-cultivated crops, attended by at least 150 persons each year.


Grower learner meetings/Landowner Income Conference

Many workshops at 2006 Landowners Conference focused on medicinal herbs, value-adding & marketing. Chip Carroll, RA NTFP educator, Intro to Ginseng Production 30 attended. Eric Burkhart Penn State University Research Assistant, Ginseng Culture a survey of Ginseng Stewards and their Practices, 18 attended. Cindy Parker, Community Herbalist, Hands on Adding Value to Medicinal Herbs, 28 attended. Paul Strauss, founder of Equinox Botanicals, Medicinal Herb Identification and Appreciation, 45 attended. Sessions on Natural Resource-based businesses as well as Developing a Sustainable Small Business were also held and a total of 43 people attended.

198 people attended the 2006 Conference. 21 current and potential growers attended a July 2006 workshop given in Dover, Ohio by Chip Carroll on Ginseng Production.

Two Ginseng fact sheets co-authored by Rural Action and OSU Extension were completed in 2006; Growing American Ginseng in Ohio; Harvesting and Drying and Growing American Ginseng in Ohio; Maintenance Disease & Pests will be available on-line in December 2006.

Roots of Appalachia Growers Association hosted a May 12, medicinal herb hike at RA Research and Education Center. On May 13, RAGA with Southern Ohio Forestland Association, hosted a site identification and evaluation and Field Day, at the Tom Johnson Farm in Scioto County, 20 people attended. 15 growers attended RAGA’s Oct. 21 Field Day at the RARE center, focusing on harvesting golden seal, with long time grower Charlie Hambel. RAGA hosted an informational “Open House” at the 2006 Conference attended by 15 current or prospective members. 6 RAGA members explored submitting a Value Added Producers Grant in 2006 and an herb market update was prepared by Chip Carroll and distribute via the RAGA list serve to over 200 people.

Two major herbal products buyers, Colin Literski of Lifestyle Nutraceuticals and representatives from Frontier Natural Products Co-op toured the RARE Center and became major sponsors of the annual conference. Lifestyle Nutraceuticals has contracted with RAGA members for Black Cohosh production. Mr. Literski has also contracted with Rural Action for technical assistance. Frontier Natural Products Co-operative has entered into discussions about purchasing herbs from RAGA.

Growers from RAGA had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina in November for the North Carolina
Natural Products Trade-Show. Tom Johnson and Katharine Parks traveled to the event to network with potential buyers and get the latest information on the industry. RAGA representatives were also present at the 5th Annual Catskill Mountain Ginseng Festival on October 8th, 2006 in Greene County New York. This ginseng trade show allowed RAGA members to see the ins & outs of ginseng marketing New York style with many big buyers present from NY City. RAGA was also able to recruit several new members at this event.

Four years worth of research data on Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Wild Yam and Stoneroot is currently being evaluated in cooperation with RAGA and the results will be available in early 2007.

In early 2006 the RARE Center initiated a new cultivation research trial on Butterfly Weed. Plants were started in the greenhouse and then transplanted to the field in the fall of 2006. We will be evaluating this crops potential for growers in this region based on cost of production and ease of market access.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


Over 200 medicinal herb growers attended conferences, workshops and field days on growing, marketing, value-adding and best practices for medicinal herbs.

A Herb Market Update was developed and distributed to over 200 growers.

14 new members joined RAGA in 2006.

2 new extension fact sheets were developed on ginseng production and will be available on a statewide basis.

2 major medicinal herb buyers are exploring working with RAGA.

3 RAGA members were referred to buyers and made sales in 2006.