Sat, August 08, 2015

United Plant Savers in conjunction with Rural Action presented

Growing American Ginseng: Insights, Methods, and Opportunities

United Plant Savers Goldenseal Sanctuary, Rutland

Last weekend, the Goldenseal Sanctuary in Rutland Ohio was bustling with activity for the United Plant Savers and Rural Action workshop, Growing American Ginseng: Insights, Methods, and Opportunities.

Forty-four participants came from Ohio, Kentucky, New York, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin to learn from experts in the field of ginseng cultivation, harvesting, and marketing. Tanner Filyaw from Rural Action moderated the event and kicked things off with his own presentation, Ginseng History and Introduction to Forest cultivation. This was a comprehensive review of the plant and it’s history as well as a description of the three techniques used for commercial ginseng growing: Shade cultivated, woods grown, and wild simulated. This workshop primarily focused on wild simulated ginseng production.

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This session was followed with Applied Forest Cultivation: Site selection and Planting. Goldenseal Sanctuary steward, Chip Carroll, led the group out into the field for a hands-on demonstration of site selection and planting. Participants had an opportunity to study indicator plants and observe efficient and effective planting techniques. Seeding rates and density along with advantages and disadvantages associated with planting seedlings, roots, and seed were covered. Chip and the group identified ginseng plants, and proper digging techniques were demonstrated. Growers from other states commented on the ideal growing conditions for ginseng that exist in this part of SE Ohio.

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Lunch was followed with Bob Beyfuss, retired NY State Specialist for American Ginseng. Bob is currently vice president of Bounty American Pharm, a large-scale woodland wild simulated ginseng growing operation in upstate New York. With his presentation, Top 10 Reasons Why Ginseng Plantings Fail, Bob reached into his deep bag of experience to share many of the mistakes he and growers he has advised over the years have made. Bob’s anecdotes stimulated a useful discussion of disease, planting techniques, labor, and security concerns. 

A panel discussion with insights from Paul Hsu of Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Brad Castle of Emerald Castle Farm, Adam Seitz from Pennsylvania Certified Organic, as well as Bob, Tanner, and Chip came next. Discussion topics included Market Strategies and Considerations for Woodland Growers, and What’s Happening in Ohio: Regulatory Changes and Things To Know. Most agreed that the industry is still in need of a functional regulatory system for ginseng that allows for profitable commerce while at the same time protecting this threatened medicinal.

Adam Seitz from Pennsylvania Certified Organic wrapped up the day with his presentation on the PCO Forest Grown Verification Program. He explained how certification can add value to a growers crop as well as insulate the grower from market restrictions should the digging of wild roots be prohibited sometime in the future. The process and price of certification was outlined and Adam discussed options to limit the cost to growers including $200 grants provided by United Plant Savers to cover the cost of application.

This event was declared a great success from most, if not all of the attendees. Connections and contacts were made and enthusiastic, new United Plant Savers members were signed up. Great strides were made in terms of supporting growers who are interested in conserving one of the most threatened medicinal plants in North America. Demand for this workshop exceeded available space and United Plant Savers is looking forward to the next opportunity we have to offer a similar workshop.


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