An increasing demand for medicinal herbs has spurred the creation of a new growers cooperative.
The Vermont Herb Growers Cooperative is an effort to pool the resources of growers to meet orders from larger wholesale customers.
For the most part, Vermont herb production is being done on a small scale, by growers who are who are also growing other crops.
"Most of the people who are growing currently, if they’re growing herbs at all, they’re growing for a smaller retail markets. We’re going to be marketing nationally at a wholesale level,” says Pamela Hathaway, acting manager of the new co-op.
Hathaway says while it will be primarily a marketing cooperative, the organization will also provide technical assistance to farmers interested in diversifying and growing medicinal herbs.
"In terms of specific herbs that we’re growing, some are very common and well known. Dandelion is a great example,” she says. “We’re going to be growing that, both the leaf and the root. Another well-known [plant] that is used medicinally is calendula. There are about 20 target herbs that we have identified as our priorities for the first few years of our operation.”
The cooperative will also conduct trials on other herbs that have wholesale potential.
Hathaway says many of the medicinal herbs are perennials, which unlike many vegetable crops can be harvested year after year.
The Vermont Herb Growers Cooperative was incorporated in September and is currently seeking members.