FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/04/2019
Contact: Erin Fitz
Agroforestry AmeriCorps VISTA
ABINGDON, Va. – Appalachian Sustainable Development’s Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub, has launched a GoFundMe Campaign https://www.gofundme.com/plantingforthefuture to raise funds to secure a more sustainable and long-lasting future for forest botanicals in Appalachia by encouraging conservation through profitable cultivation. With a $10,000 pledge match provided by national herb like Gaia Herbs and others, all donations made from now to August 4, 2019 will be matched, 1:1, helping ASD reach its goal to raise a total of $20,000.
Due to overharvesting of wild populations and habitat loss, the future of forest botanicals is hanging in the balance. As wild populations are depleted, the long-term survival of a growing forest botanical economy in Appalachia is at risk. In addition to these challenges, forest farmers face steep start-up and operational costs for planting stock, certifications and processing equipment and labor. Training and technical assistance is limited in many areas across Appalachia, and many national buyers have volume minimums that individual, small scale farmers are unable to meet. To decrease barriers to entry for forest farmers, the GoFundMe campaign funds will be used to continue expanding the services ASD already provides to small scale forest farmers across Central Appalachia:
1) Seed to sale training: plant propagation, post-harvest handling and marketing 2) Cost-share funding: offsetting start-up costs (planting stock and forest grown verified 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 premium prices for sustainably verified and ethically sourced supply
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’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. 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. Poised to respond to growing demand, in 2017, ASD founded the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub to create a sustainable herbal economy in Central Appalachia.
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, farmers have sold more than $18 million in produce sales to wholesale grocery store and food broker markets from Maryland to Georgia. In 2017, the Food Hub expanded to include the Herb Hub to provide 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.
About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development is propelling its mission to transition Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people to 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.