Forest Farming: Saving At-Risk Forest Botanicals
Appalachia is an incredibly unique area of the world, rich in natural resources. Historically, these resources have been extracted while the people of Appalachia have been forgotten. With the decline of coal, today many Appalachians have very limited economic opportunities. Yet there is still a resilient spirit in Appalachia with a 300 year old cultural connection to foraging native forest botanicals, like ginseng and goldenseal, for medicine and income. Where coal was once king, ginseng and other forest botanicals are now promising beacons of hope for a region in desperate need.
Over half of native U.S. medicinals are found in the biodiverse forests of Appalachia. Today’s market value for forest-based medicinal plant products exceeds one billion dollars annually in the U.S. and global demand is on the rise for the 13th consecutive year. While the economic implications are profound, the consequences for our forests are dire.
Prices for most forest botanicals are very low, often less than $4/dry lb. for perennial plants that can take up to seven years to reach maturity. Offering limited economic incentive for sustainable cultivation and management in a forest farming system, the majority of these forest botanicals are wild harvested. The sheer volume of annual trade over the past 300 years has taken its toll on wild populations. Due to overharvesting and habitat loss, the future of forest botanicals is uncertain.
As wild populations are depleted, the long-term survival of a growing forest botanical economy is at risk. In order to secure a sustainable and long-lasting future for forest botanicals in Appalachia, efforts to support conservation through cultivation are imperative. That’s where you come in!
The Grassroots Cause – Be a Part of the Solution
Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) is a non-profit that has been serving Appalachia since 1995. Since its inception, ASD’s work has focused on building resilience in Appalachia by providing ecologically sound economic opportunities.
In 2017, ASD founded the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub to create a sustainable herbal economy in Central Appalachia, where conservation of at-risk medicinal plants is achieved through profitable cultivation. The Herb Hub is a shared-use facility in Duffield, Virginia that addresses the issues above by providing the following services to a network for small scale forest farmers across Appalachia:
1) Seed to sale training: plant propagation, sustainable harvest, and more
2) Cost-share funding: offsetting start-up costs (i.e. planting stock, certification)
3) Shared-use commercial processing equipment: increases herb quality and reduces farm labor costs
4) Aggregation and marketing: helping forest farmers collectively meet volume minimums and access emerging markets that pay equitable prices for sustainably verified and ethically sourced supply
Donate today and help Appalachian farmers like Michelle finally make a profit forest farming, while also conserving at-risk medicinal plants. Your donation, no matter the size, makes a big difference for the people, plants and future of Appalachia.
Every dollar donated between June 4 - August 4 will be doubled by a match pledge from generous partners in the herbal products industry like Gaia Herbs and others. Together, we can ensure that our cherished Appalachian medicinal plants are here for generations to come. Donate today, and join us in planting for the future of at-risk forest botanicals!
Suggestion Donation Levels
Receive one postcard of Bloodroot or American Ginseng
Receive two postcards of Bloodroot and American Ginseng
Receive one unsigned print and one postcard of Bloodroot or American Ginseng
Receive two unsigned prints and two postcards of Bloodroot and American Ginseng
Receive two artist signed prints and two postcards of Bloodroot and American Ginseng
Forest botanical prints by Erin Fitz – A thank you for your generosity!
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