So You Want to Grow Medicinal Herbs? and Piedmont Medicinal Herb Growers
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So You Want to Grow Medicinal Herbs?
What is a medicinal herb? Medicinal Herbs are plants used for medicinal purposes. Medicinal Herbs includes a wide range of plant species found in various habitats from annuals or perennials; woody or herbaceous; full sun or shade. When using the plants for medicinal purposes, you may use their leaves, flowers, roots, seeds or bark. Each medicinal herb has a story. For example, bloodroot is also called puccoon, a Native American word for red dye, as it was used to color clothes, baskets, and skin.
When selecting the correct medicinal herb for your area, you must first evaluate your interests, resources, and capabilities. When evaluating your interests, think about what you are looking to use the herbs for. Are you looking to make teas, medicines, soaps or candles? How do you want to market your products? Are you growing for just yourself or others? Evaluate the resources around you; your land, equipment, accessibility, length of the growing season in your area. What is the soil like? Think about personal considerations and capabilities; how much time, energy, physical strength, and other help do you have? Lastly, think about how you are going to finance your enterprise?
As there are various types of medicinal herbs, there is no “one way” to grow. Before planting a single seed, it is important to do research. Do you want to grow organically? There is a growing market for certified organic herbs, so plan in advance and educate yourself if you want to enter this market. Do you have a site suitable for growing medicinal herbs? Select a site that has good soil health, access to irrigation, and sufficient light for the herb you are growing. Next, obtain quality seed and planting stock material. You want to source your material from a reputable source. Herbs are susceptible to insects and diseases, so be sure to provide; healthy soil, quality water and air drainage. Make sure to also keep your plants healthy by not over fertilizing or watering. Plan ahead of harvest time by considering how you will harvest the leaves, seeds, or roots. Annual herbs will be harvested the same season that they are planted and perennials can be cut to allow for regrowth year after year. After harvest, it is important to know how to properly handle the harvested roots and herbs. Be sure to follow good agricultural practices to ensure your herb product is safe.
Piedmont Medicinal Herb Growers
The Piedmont Medicinal Herb Growers group was established Fall 2022 by Piedmont area N.C. Cooperative Extension Horticulture Agents. The inspiration for this group came from the established Western North Carolina Medicinal Herb Growers group. This group is made up of N.C. Cooperative Extension educators, herb farmers, and gardeners who are interested in gaining experience in growing medicinal herbs. The group is able to attend workshops to gain knowledge and hands-on experience with all aspects of medicinal herb growing, post-harvest handling, and marketing.
In August 2022, the group kicked off with a meet and greet along with informational workshops on the topics; growing medicinal herbs and marketing medicinal herbs. The group also got to enjoy a farm tour of Gentle Harmony Farms located in Davidson County to learn about the processes from growing to marketing herbs.
Wanting to get involved? There will be various opportunities this spring for participants to attend workshops and herb walks. The first session will be presented on the Production Process of Herbs highlighting comfrey and lavender crops which will be held on Monday, March 27th from 1-4 p.m. at the Iredell County Cooperative Extension Office. Our first herbal walk will be held at the Greensboro Arboretum to allow for all accessibility on Friday, March 31st from 3-5 p.m. The next herb walk will take place at Uwharrie River Trail on Friday, April 14th from 2-4 p.m. The last spring workshop will be a hands-on workshop where participants will learn about creating herbal vouchers. This last session will be held at the Davidson County Cooperative Extension Office on Tuesday, May 9th from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. The March and May workshop will be $12 for all participants to be used for purchasing materials.
Interested in learning more about the Piedmont Medicinal Herb Growers group? Contact your local Cooperative Extension office. Want to join the email list to stay in touch about events and information? Contact Yadkin County Cooperative Extension Horticulture Agent, Kellee Payne at email@example.com.
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As seen in Yadkin Valley Magazine March/April 2023.