I'm interested in starting up a herb farm of sorts on my 40 acres of permaculture paradise in the Canadian Rockies. As it says beside my name to the left of this post, I'm up North (53 degrees) [though you folks up in Alaska and the true North of Canada might laugh at that!] I'm also at a decent elevation 2750 feet above sea level.
My land is in an area where the forest is in transition to and from Northern Boreal Forest, and Inland Temperate Rainforest. As an example of what is already growing wild on the property, I have Spruce, Western Red Cedar, Lodge Pole Pine, Poplar, Birch, Cottonwood, as well as Douglas and Amibilis Fir as my predominant canopy trees. Understory trees/shrubs include Saskatoon, Willow species, Red Dogwood, Alder, Elderberry. My feral meadow contains many species of perennial grasses, and fescues as well as Thistles (in ridiculous sad abundance), and hawkweed (in a sizable patch). There is also alfalfa, vetch, red and white clover as volunteer nitrogen fixers! There is some yarrow, and wild strawberries also, but not in abundance.
I'm looking for what herbal medicine plants that I can plant, concentrating first on those that will be most profitable in a herbal adventure. I have about 25 acres of boreal forest, and 15 acres or so of Meadow, with a creek on the edge/dividing them.
I have wild plants of elderberry that grew on it's own on the meadow edge, but not in abundance. In the forest, I have Oregon Grape, and some wild fungi that are marketable.
I am already a producer of high quality Russian Garlic. I tripled my fall planted crop, and have most of it sold already. This is in my built up raised beds.
I am ordering echinacea seeds. And will be getting some bocking 14 comfrey.
I have tons of dandelions, although they are quite thin or smallish because the soil in my field has been quite compacted by years of poor pasturing-especially with horses. I will be working on improving the soil to increase my root size.
I'm thinking Chicory will be one.
I will be figuring on propagating devils club from layers.
Any other suggestions?
Also looking for perennial veggies for my zone.
Thanks in advance for all your time and energy.
Seaberry loves cold places.
Cloud berry is native to Canada and a ground cover.
Wintergreen is great in shady areas
Hi Roberto, I'm a bit late to this conversation, but I'm in Nova Scotia and starting out with growing herbs and medicine here as well. We're in Acadian Forest, which is a mix of Boreal and Carolinian forests.
I've been into 2 really inspiring and fabulous books lately that you might find very helpful.
The first is Farming the Woods by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel, which has a whole chapter on forest medicinals. The really valuable ones are ginseng, goldenseal, and black cohosh if you have the right conditions for any of them. (The book has a handy ginseng site rating chart!) In Nova Scotia we have dwarf ginseng, and although it might be as medicinal as american ginseng, I don't believe it fetches anywhere near the price. Forest herbs can take years to produce a harvest, though.
Here's the link: https://farmingthewoods.com/
The second book is The Boreal Herbal, by Beverly Gray. She's in the Yukon and this books is truly a gem! Plus it's packed full of recipes along with the herbal knowledge. It doesn't have ANY cultivation info, but you will get a really good idea of what grows well in the North and what the traditional native uses were.
As is mentioned in Farming the Woods, it's difficult to grow anything but ginseng on a scale that is profitable if you're selling raw herb products in bulk.
HOWEVER.... reading about what Beverly Gray and others are doing, I'm coming to the conclusion that herbs can be a nice little business if we're also doing consultations and creating value added products such as tinctures, salves, creams, hydrosols, jams, vinegars and anything else we can think up!
And I'm looking way more at selling direct to consumers at farmers markets, etc as I don't have enough space to do bulk product stuff. I might do a small herbal nursery if I can get good at propagating.
Oh, and one last reference....
Look up Richo Cech at Strictly Medicinal Seeds. He's got TONS of medicinal seeds, he ships to Canada and also has written a nice book about medicinal herb growing. Here's the link for that one...
Please keep us posted with what you try and how you get on with things. I'd love to hear all about it!
Echinacea purpurea is the one most often grown and harvested in N. America right now, but the very experienced herbalists I know always recommend Echinacea angustifolia, as it's much stronger medicine.
E. purpurea is fairly easy to cultivate, which is why herbal supplement companies are all over it. E. angustifolia is a bit harder to germinate, as I've been told (haven't tried yet myself, just ordered my seeds) but a more valuable herb.
Hope that helps...
Speaking of B.C. bloggers, I also found this one in Nakusp, B.C. http://kootenaygarden.blogspot.co.id. I don't know if that's close to you (I'm not really familiar with BC at all, sadly!). But, maybe she'd also be a good resource for you.
There's also this thread (http://www.permies.com/t/4408/plants/perennial-vegetables-Zone-Alaska) that might help you. Robert did a great summary at the end of the thread:
Roberto pokachinni wrote:I'm going to start compiling a list from the beginning of this thread to the present... and then I will edit it as this progresses for a while... at least until the spring gardening and construction work kicks me off the computer.
If I miss any let me know.
I'll put a question mark by any that I think might need more info.
Wild mushrooms, Cultivated/Introduced Berries and fruits, wild plants including berries, will have the own lines, but the first line will be just cultivated plants and mushrooms. I will try to get the latin names down so that it is easier for everyone, as time goes on. Any help would be appreciated in getting the latin names. Any suggestions for making these lists better (more user friendly) would be helpful.
Cultivated plants and mushrooms: Asparagus, Horseradish, Rhubarb, Multiplying Onions, Violets, Daylillies, Hops, Comfrey, Chives, French Sorrel, Some Culinary Herbs?, Jerusalem Artichokes, Shitake, Oyster Mushrooms, dioscorea batatas, Stachys affinis, ground nut, Maximillian Sunflower, hostas, salsify, Good King Henry (Chernipodium bonus-henri), Turkish Rocket (Bunias orientalis), Fuki, Perennial alliums?, Welsh Onions, Egyptian Walking Onions, Siberian Ginseng?,
Wild plants including berries: Fiddle Head Fern varieties: ?, Alpine Sweetvetch?, Devil's Club shoots, watermelon berry, Fireweed, Cow Parsnip, Spring Beauty, Stinging Nettles, Rose Hips, Labrador Tea, False Solomon's Seal, Sweet Cicily, Valarian
Edible weed/Volunteer Plants: Chickweed, Lambsquarters, Dandelion, Chicory, Plantain,
Wild Mushrooms and Fungi: Morels, Boletes, Chantrelles, Pines, Hedgehog, Cauliflower, Chicken Of The Woods, Chaga, Angel Wings, Lobsters, Turkey Tail, Puffballs, Shaggy Manes, Stropharia Rugose-Annulata
Cultivated or introduced Berry and fruit varieties: Grapes, Hardy Kiwis?, Apples, Cherries, Pears, Plums, Red and Black Currants, Gooseberries, Saskatoon/Serviceberries, Lingonberries, Nangoonberries, Russian Mountain Ash, Seaberries, Nanny Berries, Honey Berries, Evans Cherry, Strawberries, Raspberries
I hope that helps!
Thanks for reposting it here! I hadn't seen the other thread.
I would also add ramps/wild leeks, which are endangered in Canada now and protected from harvest in ON & QC.
Roberto, if you're interested in wild leeks, let me know. I had found a source in ON that ships seeds & young plants within Canada. I can hunt down that link for you.