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Horticulture and Natural Resources

Great Plains Herb Growers

Cooperative Herb Production and Marketing

History

The association has been formed primarily by Great Plains States herb growers and those who wish to grow herbs commercially. The association is the outgrowth of three years of effort to form and establish an herb growers marketing cooperative. In January, 2001 the herb growers interest group steering committee decided to form a non-profit Association to coordinate effort to organize a coop, and to educate and assist interested farmers in planning to grow organically cultivated culinary and medicinal herbs. The Association thus began with 11 members, drafted articles of incorporation and a set of by-laws, and wrote a business plan for a marketing cooperative. An ad-hoc board of directors and committed members have been holding quarterly meetings, and have established action committees to begin the business of carrying out our mission.

Educational meetings have been held for herb growers in Kansas since 1997 (9 so far), and several small grants have been received by this group to assist in the publishing of the newsletter, and to fund the development of a business plan for a marketing cooperative. The business plan was completed in the spring of 2001, but has not been implemented. There are two hurdles to implementation; one is to get funding for start-up, including a marketing coordinator, and some basic equipment (drying equipment, cut-sift equipment, etc). The second hurdle is to find enough growers willing to sell through the co-op to generate the cash-flow necessary for the co-op to be self-sustaining. The goal of the association is to provide and organization for on-going grower education and recruitment, so that the marketing co-operative may eventually come into being.


Mission

The mission of the Great Plains Herb Growers Association is to foster communication among herb growers, herb buyers, retailers, herbalists, health practitioners and other interested parties; to further the knowledge and safe use of herbs and herbal products; to educate farmers about organic cultivation practices for medicinal plants best suited for the Great Plains bio-region; and to provide collective resources to aid in the production, processing and marketing of organically grown high quality herbs.


Structure of the Organization

The organization includes board members, members, and action committees. Six committees established last year continue work in organizing and developing programs to carry out the association’s mission. They include the following:

An organization development committee will focus on expanding membership, fundraising, and community support.

An education committee will focus on organizing speakers for association meetings and events, seminars and workshops. Other activities will also focus on education with regard to organic practices and certification.

A marketing committee is developing a database of local, regional and national herb buyers. These consist of naturopathic health practitioners, health food stores, distributors and manufacturers of herbal supplements.

An equipment coordination committee will investigate locating, leasing and modification of existing farm machinery to seed, cultivate and harvest a variety of herb products.

A QA (Quality Assurance) Committee will focus on the quality of herbs cultivated by members of the association. Our plan is to educate members with regard to sources of high quality seed, the importance of organic practices, collect research information on methods for maximizing the medicinal constituents of herbs including harvest and processing.

A Newsletter and Website committee will coordinate putting together a quarterly Newsletter and set up and maintain an Association website for the purpose of following the outcome of grower interest group meetings and steering committee meetings.

Any members interested in becoming involved in one or more of these committees, please contact Steve Moring (785-863-4102) smoring@ruralnet1.com,or Rob Marshall (785-841-9241), e-mail: herbgrowers@sunflower.com. Steve and Rob are co-chairs and board members of the organization, and Steve edits the newsletter.

Other board members: Nancy Marshall, Treasurer, nlmarsha@sunflower.com, Emily Hunter, c/o Living Education, Rt. #1, Matfield Green, KS 66862, 316-753-3405, livingeducation@yahoo.com, Alan Gardner, midamercianherbs@mchsi.com, Madalein Odell, herbgrowers@sunflower.com, Cindy Sartin, cheyenne9755@aol.com, and Teri Leahy, tleahy@ku.edu.

Also another member is (ex officio) David Coltrain, Dept. of Ag Economics, KSU (coltrain@agecon.ksu.edu).