Really good to see this new thread. I?ve talked to some of you folks where I?m at over the phone regarding a similar topic, trying to get a cooperative going here in Maryland.
Aside from the financial benefit of bulk sales, a couple of the people I spoke with also expressed interest in the social/networking aspect of the idea; sharing info, techniques, etc.
I went so far as to contact the congressman from my legislative district and I met with one of his aides at the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill and pitched the idea, (partly seeking assistance from the state to set up an organized cooperative). An exciting day, but it produced little results.
I?ve pasted a portion of my pitch below, if nothing else maybe it?ll generate more ideas or interest.
I?d really like to see your co-op come to fruition; I?ve posted before about how I feel like we?re all on the brink of something big here, it's up to us to make it happen.
P.S. I?m half Chinese and I speak the language if that helps at all.
Here is part of the e-mail I sent to
Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Gov. Martin O? Malley:
I'd like to propose a new Maryland agricultural initiative focused on education and conservation of the American Ginseng plant.
Ginseng is a relatively obscure plant to the general public, but I'd like to change that. Maryland is one of only a dozen or so states in the Union where the plant grows indigenously, and has for thousands of years, but most Marylanders know nothing about it.
Currently the American Ginseng industry is in jeopardy. Overharvesting, loose state and federal restrictions, lack of an organized association, lack of public awareness, and antiquated laws that do not protect local farmers, are all contributing factors.
The future of this ancient, medicinal remedy is in the hands of the Maryland small farmer, and we have an opportunity to be a pioneering force in revitalizing and expanding the American Ginseng economy.
This new program will focus on small scale and family farming, preservation of an obscure Maryland cash crop, and pave the way for a controlled, international market.
Nationally there are small groups of farmers that have established informal, co-operative bulk sales to the Ginseng market?s international consumers in China and South Korea. This program proposal is an open-ended opportunity for Maryland to be at the forefront of an international export boom. By organizing bulk sales, Maryland growers will be afforded the best market price for their crop, a constant demand for American Ginseng, and stability in an emerging international market. The new program will require space for a small working farm or conservation center that will focus on three areas.
1. Education: Making the public more aware of Ginseng, its local history, its value internationally as a cash crop, and its wide range of medicinal remedies. This will be accomplished by field trips to the farm or conservation center, free weekend workshops, lectures at local schools and agricultural events, etc.
2. Conservation of the plant: Protecting the plant and its future.
By establishing a seed bank for local growers it will be a benefit to existing farmers by providing a stable source of healthy seed for future seasons. An organized seed bank will also be advantageous to new farmers by providing a means to create new Ginseng plots, building a more stable future for the plant as a species.
The distribution of affordable, readymade kits to promote family farming at home or in the community will also support the initiative.
3. Providing research specimens: Ongoing research has yet to unlock all the medical value of the Ginseng plant. It is critical to provide researchers with the healthiest, highest quality roots and plants.
Organizing a growers association will help promote Maryland Ginseng farming. New farmers will be able to contact the organization for information and tips, the best methods, trouble-shooting, even site selection and surveying assistance.
In other states similar ideas and associations have failed. I spoke recently with the president of the now-almost-defunct West Virginia Ginseng Growers Association, an all-volunteer organization suffering from a lack of funding, man power and resources. With assistance from the state of Maryland, this new initiative can achieve what volunteer associations in other states have tried to do, organizing the American Ginseng industry.
Small scale and family farming promote a healthy sense of community, encourage environmental awareness and puts Marylanders back in touch with an older, simpler way of life that is disappearing fast.
With the current Federal emphasis on international export, eco-friendly programs, and wildlife conservation, this opportunity demands attention.
For a small investment now, we can help preserve and broaden the future of a small, shrinking industry.
I?d like to meet with someone from your office to discuss this proposal in more detail.