Opportunities to Share Information and Grow Resources
Jim Chamberlain, forest products technologist with the Southern Research Station, has carved out a niche in non-timber forest products. Chamberlain focuses on ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, galax, and scores of other non-timber products that flourish in the Appalachian forests. He’s devoted his career to finding and identifying plants, studying their historical uses, and learning about their ecological, cultural, and market values. On May 8 he spoke in New York City at the American Herbal Products Association Inaugural Botanical Congress about the valuation, conservation, and sustainability of wild-harvested herbs. Chamberlain next visited the United Plant Saver’s 360-acre goldenseal sanctuary in southeastern Ohio.
If you missed these opportunities to connect with Chamberlain, join us on Wednesday, May 16, at noon EDT for his webinar Forest Farming Non-Timber Products: Opportunities and Challenges. Chamberlain co-leads teh eXtension Forest Farming Community, a collaborative effort of forest farmers, university faculty, and natural resource agency professionals that shares information about growing and selling high-value non-timber forest products.
“Gathering has been an Appalachian tradition for generations,” says Chamberlain. “Native Americans depended on non-timber forest products for subsistence, and by 1800 the Cherokee were carrying loads of ginseng to southern ports.” Appalachian people continued to collect forest products to eat such as blackberries, mushrooms, and chestnuts and others such as black cohosh and bloodroot for their medicinal value and to generate income. Traditional medicine has blossomed into a huge industry, and more than 75 species of medicinal plants are collected from Appalachia. The total U.S. market exceeds $4 billion annually.
“Although forest farming was recognized as a potential land use practice in 1929, the forestry community has only started to promote the importance of non-timber forest products in the last 10 to 15 years,” says Chamberlain. “Forest managers often are unaware that these resources exist on their land, and they typically aren’t included in management plans. If managers do know about their presence, they may not be aware of their economic, social, or ecological importance.”
Forest landowners are beginning to realize that it may be possible to diversify their income by selling these non-timber products while their trees are growing toward harvest or by focusing on the production of special forest products rather than timber. In his May 16 webinar, Chamberlain will address production methods, yield estimations, market potential, and other topics. . Eligible participants will have the opportunity to earn continuing education credit. Visit the Webinar Portal to learn more. –Claire Payne