WNC farmers used to rely on tobacco as one of their best, if not THE best, cash crop here in the mountains. Those days are over, and now farmers could make good $$ raising herbs for better health.
“These mountains have been growing medicinal herbs forever. A lot of these herbs grow well here, and it’s more sustainable agriculture”, says Amy Hamilton, operator of Appalachian Seeds Farm & Nursery in Rutherford County. She is a founding member of the Appalachian Botanical Alliance, a cooperative of women exploring how to grow and market healing plants from a medical tradition halfway around the world. The alliance launched in January 2012 with an $8K grant through the Golden LEAF Foundation, which helps distressed counties from NC’s share of a legal settlement with tobacco companies.
By quirk of geography, WNC shares the same latitudes and elevations of mountainous provinces in China that produce the rich supply of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. An example is American Ginseng, which grows wild here in our mountains; other plants which grow well here are nettles, Chinese chrysanthemum, lemon balm, California poppy and skullcap, a lot of which are sister species to plants found in China.
So far, the experiment has proved promising; about five acres locally are growing these plants, and the coop members aim to see 100 acres in production by 2020.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ONLINE: http://www.aba-coop.com. — www.appalachianseeds.com
SOURCE: Dale Neal, Asheville Citizen-Times