FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  09/26/2017

Contact: Emily Lachniet   

Agroforestry Program Manager   

276-623-1121

elachniet@asdevelop.org

www.asdevelop.org

Appalachian Harvest food hub expands opportunities for local farmers by offering herb processing and aggregation

ABINGDON, Va. – On October 3rd, Appalachian Harvest staff and medicinal herb growers will be launching the newly created Appalachian Harvest herb hub to wash and dry Certified Organic and Forest Grown Verified (FGV) Black Cohosh root to be purchased by Oregon based retailer, Mountain Rose Herbs https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/. Made possible with funding and support from the Appalachian Regional Commission POWER+ grant and the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Coalition, forest farmers can now process their botanical products in a facility that meets food safety regulations with access to premium markets. These botanical products include forest grown roots and leaves from plants such as Ginseng and Goldenseal that will be used in the medicinal herb industry.

The herb hub provides technical assistance to help farmers obtain Organic Certification and Forest Grown Verification, training on forest farming techniques, use of commercial root washers, dryers and a moisture meter, food safety, marketing and aggregation services.

Market value for forest-based medicinal plant products currently exceeds one billion dollars annually in the United States and the demand is rising, despite the low prices root diggers often receive outside of the Ginseng market. As consumers become more aware of where their food and medicines come from, they are starting to demand transparency and sustainability practices for the products they buy. In response, the Forest Grown Verified program was developed by Pennsylvania Certified Organic and Penn State University, in which an organic certifying agent inspects a farmer’s existing plant populations and management plan to ensure that botanicals are harvested at a sustainable rate and propagated as necessary. Retailers are responding to consumer demand and are paying premium prices for products that meet best practice and organic criteria. As such, contractual prices for material from verified, organic forest farms could convert a thin profit-margin into a viable business bottom line.

Emily Lachniet, ASD’s Agroforestry Program Manager explains, “The Appalachian region contains native habitat for many forest botanicals that include things like American Ginseng, Black Cohosh, Goldenseal, Bloodroot and more. People in our region have deep rooted cultural connections to medicinal plants. Forest botanicals such as Ginseng have supported Appalachian families for generations. By connecting forest farmers with markets for sustainably grown botanicals and a local facility that meets food safety and organic regulations, we can help these growers maximize efficiencies and get higher prices for their crops.”

About the Appalachian Harvest food and herb hub

Since 2000, Appalachian Sustainable Development’s food hub, Appalachian Harvest (AH), has helped produce farmers access markets by securing orders from food brokers and retailers, providing aggregation and distribution support, training in food safety and handling, organic certification and marketing services. Appalachian Harvest revenue has climbed to more $13 million and its products are available in approximately 3,800 stores from Maryland to Georgia.

About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)

Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development is transitioning Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people with healthy food.

Since 1995, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been working in 15 counties in Central Appalachia. ASD’s reach has since expanded to include eastern WV and KY and southeast OH. ASD uses 5 strategies to accomplish its work:  closing the knowledge gap, increasing local food production, developing markets, increasing distribution of local agriculture products, engaging strategic partners, and researching/consulting and advising. ASD operates programs that create jobs in farming and agriculture and address food insecurity. For more information about ASD go to www.asdevelop.org, Facebook or Twitter.