Thursday, April 10, 2014

Medicinal Herb Buyers Looking for Experienced Farmers

There is an unmet demand for US grown medicinal herbs of all kinds. Traditionally, the majority of these herbs were sourced from overseas, but the new Good Manufacturing Practices and existing and proposed Food Safety rules and guidelines are forcing buyers to source from the US. The problem is, there aren’t enough experienced growers. Since late last summer we have held three workshops in WNC for potential growers to meet with buyers. Some of these are among the biggest medicinal herb buyers in the country. These workshops have been very well attended, but most of the attendees are new farmers. That is very exciting and we are doing all we can to assist them, but some of these buyers need herbs grown right now, on a large scale by experienced farmers.

Some of these herbs are grown in the woods and take several years to reach harvestable stage. Once planted, they don’t require much input. Others are field grown annual or two year crop herbs that could be worked into a rotation with vegetables, corn, tobacco, or grain crops. There are several buyers that have emailed me this week looking for farmers. If you are interested in talking with one of them, please drop me an email at

In my program we have conducted research and educational programming on production of medicinal herbs for many years, so we know quite a bit about growing them.  Some of the buyers do, too. That said, these medicinal herbs are still “new crops”, so we can’t provide the detailed production information and problem solving support as we (NC Cooperative Extension) can for vegetables, tobacco, and field crops. But prices are going up for these herbs, so it might be an opportunity for some of you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Week Full of Biodynamic Events with Harald Hoven

Harald Hoven is a renowned international lecturer and founder and director of Raphael Gardens at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA. The Gardens are a teaching site and have been certified Biodynamic by Demeter since 2004. Harald’s special interest is Agricultural Individuality…a holistic approach whereby a farmer or gardener tries to supply all their gardening and farming needs internally.
Tuesday, April 15: Introduction to Biodynamic Gardening
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Treska’s Porch, Highland Lake Cove, 215 Rhett Drive, Flat Rock, NC. Cost: $20 for the workshop. This experiential workshop is designed for people unfamiliar with biodynamics, but interested in learning more. All are welcome. Come prepared to walk and work in the garden and learn about composting!

A dinner, hosted by Pat Hart and Kerry Lindsey follows at 6PM. Donations of money for the dinner are appreciated. Please RSVP for the workshop and dinner by April 12:

Pat Hart ( or 952-334-4510). Payment due at the event.

Wednesday, April 16: One-on-one conversations or site visits
8:00 am - 4:00 pm. If you are interested in having some one-on-one time with Harald Hoven at your farm or garden or an agreed on meeting place, please call Jim Smith to schedule it. Contact Jim at 864-313-5106 or Price will be determined depending on location of visit and length of time of the visit.

Wednesday, April 16: The Fundamentals of Biodynamics
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm. This evening session is being arranged by Ashevillage and will take place in Asheville. Details to be announced later.

Friday, April 18: Biodynamic Farming Principles and Applications
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC. This workshop is focused for farmers and gardeners who have some knowledge of Biodynamics but is open to all who want to attend. Topics to be covered include transitioning from organic to biodynamic, how to handle not having animals on the farm, making compost, biodynamic preparation, and the relationship of the soil to human health and well-being. Interaction with the audience is encouraged and expected. Weather permitting, an outside compost demonstration will be included. Please pre-register on EventBrite ( Cost: $10. Contact Alison Dressler for more information at or 828-684-3562.

Saturday, April 19: Visit a Farm Transitioning from Organic to Biodynamic
10:00 am – 1:00 pm. New Moon Farm, address, Fairview, NC. Gregg Adams is transitioning his long-term organic farm to biodynamics and is currently gathering materials for making a Biodynamic compost. There will be a walk-about and discussion about the transition. To carpool over to the farm, please meet at 9:30 am in the Food Lion parking lot on Hwy 74 (1350 Charlotte Hwy, Fairview, NC), across the street from Fairview Elementary School. RSVP to Jim Smith 864-313-5106 or

The organizing committee for these events: Jim Smith (Earth & Spirit Design), Pat Hart (Highland Lake Cove), Jeanine Davis (North Carolina State University), and Harald Hoven (Rudolf Steiner College).