The Appalachian Herb Growers Consortium (AHGC) was established in 2014 and is comprised of 50+ farmers in the SW Virginia region with a hub at the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine (BRCCM). At BRCCM we coordinate the efforts of our farmers by planning annual plantings, cultivating seeds into seedlings for our growers, and processing the harvested herbs in our centralized processing center.
Chinese herbal medicine is different from other forms of herbal medicine in that its effectiveness depends on the formula-herbal combinations-not individual herbs. This means that in order to produce in the quantities needed while maintaining the quality of the herb, production is accomplished by groups of small farmers who work together to grow many different kinds of herbs, and to present them to the A&OM practitioner market in a coordinated manner. Further, the groups must ensure that the herbs are grown from correctly sourced seed and starts, sited in appropriate ecological niches on farms, harvested and processed using traditional methods. Our farmers vary in scope from small family farms to small professional produces, with small being the operative word. With the AHGC coordinating, we strive to meet professional A&OM practitioner needs with a local ecologically grown product.
In early 2015, we received a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (VATICRC) to further our project and bring it to the next level. In 2016, the AHGC was awarded with a second grant from the VATICRC. These grants will ensure the success of our project and help farmers in the area diversify their crops and have an alternate source of income.