Search the site


Contact: Erin Fitz

Agroforestry AmeriCorps VISTA


Appalachian Sustainable Development is Seeking Forest Farmers to Meet Growing Demand

ABINGDON, Va. – Appalachian Sustainable Development’s Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub, is recruiting beginning and experienced forest farmers to help meet growing demand for forest botanicals. It is estimated that over half of native U.S. medicinals are found in the forests of Appalachia and in 2017, the industry was valued at over $8 billion dollars (Smith et al. 2017). Today the demand for cultivated medicinal herbs is growing at 5% a year which presents a significant opportunity for the forest farmers ASD serves. Wholesale buyers want transparency and ethically sourced forest botanicals and are paying as much as $60/dry pound for black cohosh and $80/dry pound for goldenseal from organic, forest grown verified farmers. Interested farmers should complete the Medicinal Herb Grower Questionnaire at: to get involved. Contact Erin Fitz, 276-623-1121,, for more information.

ASD’s Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub provides forest farmers with training, technical assistance, processing, aggregation and marketing support, helping them access secured, premium-priced markets from domestic and international herb companies. To reduce labor costs and enhance product quality, the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub’s organic, forest grown verified and food safety certified facility also provides shared-use commercial herb processing equipment. Cost-share funding is also available to offset the start-up costs of certifications and planting stock.

Katie Commender, Agroforestry Program Director, is encouraged by a “growing number of discerning companies and consumers who are setting a precedence for sustainable and ethical material.” She believes that “the Appalachian region, with its deep rooted cultural connections to medicinal herbs, is well positioned to tap into this growing market. By way of ‘conservation through cultivation,’ forest botanicals can be grown and sustainably managed in a forest farming system to ensure this valuable resource is here for generations to come.” With market demand outweighing available supply, she looks forward to planting for the future in 2019 and encourages interested forest landowners and aspiring forest farmers to join!

Three upcoming events in May are scheduled to share information about trainings, services and exciting market opportunities for forest botanicals. ASD is hosting two FREE Mountain Music & Medicinals events that will include live music by Tyler Hughes, light refreshments and more:

Mountain Music & Medicinals Series

ASD’s Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub staff will also be speaking at a FREE Forest Farming Workshop: Lee County Diversity Series. Light refreshments will be provided. This workshop is the first in Lee County Extension’s Diversity Series. Workshops will be held monthly through the summer to highlight various new opportunities for crop and market diversification. Registration is required by May 29, contact: Amy Fannon at or 276-546-2057. *If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in these activities, please contact Amy Fannon (276-546-2057) from 8am-5pm to discuss accommodations at least 5 days prior to the event. TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

Forest Farming Workshop: Lee County Diversity Series

About the Appalachian Harvest Food and Herb Hub

The Appalachian Harvest Food Hub, located in Duffield, VA, was founded in 2000 to help tobacco farmers losing their subsidies transition to wholesale vegetable production. Since then, Appalachian Harvest has helped produce farmers generate more than $18 million in produce sales, by providing training and technical assistance, aggregation and distribution support, and marketing services to secure wholesale grocery store and food broker markets from Maryland to Georgia. In 2017, the Food Hub expanded to include the Herb Hub, offering the same services to medicinal herb farmers.

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, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


Press Releases

©2019 Appalachian Sustainable Development. All rights reserved.