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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Medicinal Herb Cooperative Hopes To Meet Growing Demand

The new Vermont Herb Growers Cooperative wants to grow calendula, dandelion and other well-known herbs that can be used for medicinal purposes.

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.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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