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Beginning Forest Farming: Cultivating Crops Under the Canopy

Friday, March 10, 2017, 9:30 to 5:30
Location: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759
$55 with weekend registration, $70 without

Most farms and homesteads in Western NC and the Southern Appalachians contain forested land. Forest farming is a practice of cultivating medicinal, edible, decorative, and handicraft crops under a forest canopy, a unique habitat to produce non-timber forest products and the Appalachian region contains native habitat for more than 15 forest farmable plants. Due to an ever-increasing market (one billion dollars annually in the US and rising), forest-based production can contribute to the financial equation for regional farmers.

Yet forest farmers need technical, administrative, market, sales, and regulatory training.

This full-day workshop will provide an overview of forest farming from the forest floor to the shelf. We’ll explore the basics of growing woodland medicinals, the economics of forest products, value-added and natural product development, options for third party verification for forest grown products, and dialogue with advanced forest farmers. Academic and industry experts will address regionally adapted, sustainable forestry operations from propagating and cultivating, to harvesting, processing and marketing native herbs. Participants will gain in-depth knowledge on a variety of plants including ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh, ramps, and more.

  • Session 1: Growing Forest Botanicals: Introduction to Forest-Grown Medicinals Including:  How to Grow, Harvest, and Dry the Plants Most in Demand
  • Session 2: Issues Specific to Ginseng Production Including: Unique Growing, Harvesting, and Drying Methods, Wildlife, and Protection Theft
  • Q & A: Question and Answer Panel with Speakers and Several Experienced Growers
  • Session 3: Rules and Regulations for Growing these Plants Including: State and Federal Regulations, GAPs and GMPs, and How they Apply to Growing Forest Botanicals
  • Session 4: Selling Your Product: Marketing and Branding Including: Value-Added Products, Markets, Consumers, & Third Party Verifications.
  • Session 5: Buyers Perspective Including: Large and Small Buyers, Local and Domestic
  • Q & A: Question and Answer Panel with speakers and industry experts

The goal of this workshop is to train beginning forest farmers, both novices and experienced farmers, landowners and land lessees, to develop income streams and economic growth while also promoting forest health and diversity.

This one-day workshop is offered in collaboration with the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer (ABFF) Program, which is dedicated to increasing opportunities for farmers and forestland owners in Appalachia and beyond who are interested in starting or expanding/diversifying a forest farming operation. Join the ABFFC coalition to become part of the movement! Info here.

For more information and to register.


Author: OGS

Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.

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