Medicinal Herb Farming - 4/12/02
This workshop covered medicinal herbs as a profitable specialty crop.
Forty-one percent of Americans use some form of alternative health care and the numbers are growing. Marin and Sonoma counties have a growing population of naturopathic medical practitioners, herbalists, Chinese medicine practitioners, and ayurvedic healers. Until recently, these medical and health professions had to rely almost exclusively on imported dried herbs of questionable age and quality. Practitioners are beginning to look for high-quality, fresh local herbs, thus opening up a new and growing market for the specialty grower or the farmer looking to diversify their farm. This panel workshop consisted of farmers and marketing experts involved in the business of growing and marketing medicinal herbs, and gave an overview of medicinal herbs, the current market, herbs on your farm, and deciding what to grow.
Lois Richardson: Lois and her husband Pete produce medicinal herbs on CCOF Certified Organic eight acres. She understands the rapidly changing herbal marketplace and farms accordingly. Currently she is growing many herbs including vitex, elderberry, catnip, hyssop, rosemary, moterhwort, and medicinal roses.
Leslie Gardner: Leslie is a co-founder of the Sonoma County Herb Exchange, a locally-focused clearinghouse for herb growers from northern California. She has been involved in the herb industry for over 12 years, and has practical knowledge of market trends and opportunities.
Scott Mathieson: Scott owns and operates Laguna Farms in Sebastopol, 30 acres of row crops and herbs. He has farmed and marketed vegetables and herbs for 16 years and currently grows medicinal herbs for the Sonoma County Herb Exchange.
Peg Schafer: Peg has been specialty farming for 10 years and is currently specializing in Chinese medicinal herbs both for market production and also for nursery stock. She grows over 80 varieties of traditional Chinese herbs on her farm in west Petaluma.
Sources of Information on Herb Production and Marketing
Herb Production in Organic Systems