FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/05/2019
Contact: Katie Commender, Agroforestry Program Director
ABINGDON, Va. – Leading North American herbal supplement brand, Gaia Herbs, has donated a 400 square foot herb dryer to Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)’s Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub. Founded in 2017, the Herb Hub is designed to provide medicinal herb farmers with training, processing, aggregation, and marketing services. Gaia’s herb dryer will significantly increase farmers’ herb processing capacity and efficiency. The donation illustrates Gaia’s commitment to local farmers and their desire to boost local economies by collaborating with ASD to strengthen and diversify medicinal herb supply. “At Gaia Herbs, we know that both the safety and efficacy of our products starts with how the herbs were grown, but just as importantly, how they are handled in the critical hours and days after harvest. Having a dryer that can manage capacity means that the Herb Hub can help farmers produce high quality herbs at a scale that is profitable” notes Stephanie Kane, Global Sourcing Specialist at Gaia Herbs.
With the donation of the dryer, the increasing demand by wholesale herb buyers can now be met, as greater volumes of botanical products will be processed in a facility that is both Food Safety and Organic Certified. These botanical products include forest grown roots and leaves from plants such as ginseng and goldenseal, and field grown roots, leaves, and flowers from plants such as peppermint and marshmallow, all used in the medicinal herb and cosmetic industry.
A January 2013 Journal of Forestry article titled “Opportunities for Enhancing Nontimber Forest Products Management in the United States, written by Ritchie C. Vaughan, John F. Munsell and James L. Chamberlain states that the market value for forest-based medicinal plant products currently exceeds one billion dollars annually in the United States, and demand is rising. Retailers are responding to consumer demand and are paying premium prices for products that meet the best sustainability practices and organic criteria. As such, contractual prices for material from verified, organic forest farms are beginning to convert a thin profit-margin into a viable bottom line. This is especially true with increased processing efficiencies from commercial washing and drying equipment available at the Herb Hub. In 2018, one farmer was able to save $36 for every pound of dried herb he produced by using the Herb Hub’s commercial equipment compared to small home-scale equipment. In 2019, Gaia’s donated dryer will further increase these efficiencies and increase farmer’s profit margins.
Katie Commender, ASD’s Director of Agroforestry explains that, “since the early 1900’s, the prices paid for herbs have not increased in line with inflation, so farmers are still seeing prices of $3 to $6 per pound for dried herbs. At that price, there isn’t enough economic incentive to sustainably farm herbs. By the time farmers cover labor costs, they are losing money.” “Collectively as a group,” she said, “We’re trying to create a niche market where large herbal buyers are willing to pay a premium price point for certified forest grown material in a process that is transparent, traceable and sustainably managed.” In conclusion, Commender explains, “with Gaia’s donation and our increased drying capacity, we’re now able to take a big step towards providing sustainable supply to large herb buyers, and one day, we hope that will come full circle to include Gaia Herbs themselves.”
About Gaia Herbs
Since Gaia Herbs was just a seedling in 1987, the company has remained true to its original vision: connecting plants with people to nurture health and well-being. Today, Gaia Herbs is the leading herbal brand in North America with more than 200 liquid extracts, functional powders, teas, and patented, fast-absorbing Liquid Phyto-Caps. Gaia Herbs also provides the industry’s first traceability program, MeetYourHerbs®, which allows them to share complete transparency with customers. Learn more at GaiaHerbs.com, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
About the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub
The Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub provides technical assistance to help herb farmers obtain Organic Certification and Forest Grown Verification, training on herb farming techniques, use of commercial root washers, dryers, a moisture meter and marketing, aggregation and distribution services.
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, ASD has been working in 15 counties in Central Appalachia and has expanded its reach to include partners in eastern WV and KY and southeast OH. ASD uses 5 strategies to accomplish its work: education, 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. Learn more at https://asdevelop.org, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.