NC State Extension

About Medicinal Herbs for Commerce

The Medicinal Herbs for Commerce project teaches farmers how to effectively produce, harvest, package, and market medicinal herbs. Project staff recruit buyers, identify the herbs to be grown, obtain the seeds, and guide the growers throughout the production and marketing process. Growers learn how to communicate with buyers and secure markets for their crops. This project is part of the North Carolina Specialty Crops Program, a cooperative program between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University and the Marketing Division of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The 2005 project is funded with grants from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the Golden Leaf Foundation, the NC Rural Economic Development Center through the Land of Sky Regional Council, and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Plant Industry Division.

Project History

The project began in 2004, when seventeen farmers from across North Carolina were selected to receive technical assistance, seed, and a small grant to produce at least one acre of California poppy, dandelion, purple coneflower, or valerian. A number of the participants are current or former tobacco farmers looking for ways to diversify and increase the economic viability of their farms. The growing demand for organic herbs necessitates all participating farms follow the National Organic Program standards. Farmers kept accurate and detailed records of their production methods and experiences as part of this research endeavor. These growers are refining their production, cultivation, drying, and post-harvest handling techniques this year so the bioactive contents of the harvested material and total yield per acre are maximized. Thirty more farmers will be selected to participate in the program starting this July and will produce additional herbs.

The Future of the Project

As this program grows, with QUALITY as its top priority, it is anticipated that more growers will participate to create a network of medicinal herb producers who can attract and support greater industrial investment in the state of North Carolina, creating a self-sustaining economic structure unto itself. We would be interested in working together with interested buyers or sponsors who would like to join us in this developing program and help our experienced base of agricultural growers in North Carolina survive and flourish. If you have medicinal herbs you would be interested in having produced and are willing to support a ready and committed group of experienced growers as a buyer of that medicinal herb, let’s talk!

The Principal Investigator for this project is Dr. Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at North Carolina State University, and Coordinator of the NC Specialty Crops Program. Contact project coordinator Amy Hamilton at amy_hamilton@ncsu.edu (828) 684-3562 ext.257 or visit project website for details.

Funders of this project include: Golden Leaf Foundation | NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission | NC Rural Economic Development Center | NCDA