Wild Herbs
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Keith Davis
Posted on: December 31, 1998

I am doing market research for a community forest project in my area. In particular I am interested in the marketablity of wildcrafted herbs. We have quite a number of medicinal plants in our area, some which I have also seen in your catalogue. Do you buy wildcrafted herbs or know of anywhere I can find information on buyers and prices.

Foraging wild plants for the marketplace is a time-honored tradition for rural families wanting to supplement their rural incomes. I have written two books on this subject, including Native Plants of Commercial Importance and The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop. Both can be purchased from Richters. The publisher is Acres, USA, 2617-C Edenborne Ave., Metairie, LA 70011 Phone: (504) 889-2100

The book Native Plants of Commercial Importance contains 50 chapters on specific botanicals, separated by Regions, including their harvest, market depth and price, and who might purchase each. The Potential of Herbs book also contains more than 200 names and addresses of specific buyers throughout the world. The former book will have sequel in print next year titled Forest Farming.

Now, getting into specifics, British Columbia (Canada) has recently concluded a serious study on wildcrafting in that region. A detailed report on wildcrafting in B.C. can be gotten from the Ministry of Forests Forest Practices Branch, P.O. Box 9513 Stn., Prov. Govt., V8W 9C2 Phone: (250) 387-6656 Fax: (250) 387-1467 A good place to start your own research would be to visit the website http://forestry.miningco.com/msub16.htm.

According to all studies I have seen, the future for this type of enterprise is open-ended, and only limited to one’s ability to recognize a "natural resource." Fungus and mushrooms seem to be where the majority of incomes are now generated from this type of business, although native plants (like Oregon Grape Root) look to have incredible futures.

The floral trade has just begun to want "native grasses," and numerous other plants which have had some form of "value added" component. This would include preserved and dyed Salal, Boxwood, Aspen, and various Oaks and Evergreens. This allows "off the shelf" year-round marketing, rather than narrow windows during specific holidays.

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