Today’s Poll

Growing forward delivers over $2.8M to agri-food sectors

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
May 30th, 2011

The West Kootenay Herb Growers Association based in Edgewood will receive $3,500 to continue with its agroforestry project to cultivate and harvest hawthorn.

The targeted funding comes from Canada and B.C. in support of business development, innovation, food safety, and sustainability under the Growing Forward Agreement.

A total of $4,659,166.28 has been paid out to industry during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. These funds are part of the $78 million being invested in a number of non-business risk management programs designed to help farmers and other participants in the agricultural and agri-food industry increase their competitiveness and profitability.

For more information on Growing Forward programs visit:

Hawthorn Agroforestry demonstration farm trials

Extracts from hawthorn (Cratageus spp.) have established markets for use in medicinal products.

In Western herbalism, hawthorn has a long history of use for treating cardiac weakness and is used as a “blood vitalizer:” lowering cholesterol, improving blood circulation, and alleviating hypertension.

The majority of hawthorn used in western medicinal practices is currently imported from Eastern Europe. The West Kootenay region (as well as central/southern regions of BC) has a natural abundance of hawthorn with the potential for development as an alternative crop to supply this market.

The native hawthorn species of British Columbia (Cratageus douglasii, C. columbiana) have both been reported to possess “medicinal value” and are referenced in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, but neither has been researched extensively.

There is also little research or information to provide sufficient evidence to health product manufacturers and distributors that native hawthorn species may be comparable to the European hawthorn (C. laevigata/C. monogyna) – the recognized medicinal standard.

Additionally, there is scarce information available to growers for hawthorn crop management practices and basic processing techniques.

With support from the Agroforestry Industry Development Initiative, the West Kootenay Medicinal Herb Grower’s Cooperative is addressing this knowledge gap to determine the economic viability of growing hawthorn (both native and European medicinal species) within an environmentally sustainable and enhancing agroforestry system management framework.

Based out of Edgewood, the West Kootenay Medicinal Herb Grower’s Cooperative was incorporated in August 2004 with the purpose of development of medicinal herbal opportunities that balance economic, social and environmental concerns.

Hawthorn production in agroforestry systems represents an opportunity to diversify and strengthen the local economy with an economically and environmentally beneficial crop.

Another important part of this project is the potential to demonstrate enhanced riparian stewardship.

The Hawthorn Agroforestry Demonstration Farm Trials span four farm sites utilizing a combination of integrated riparian management and alley cropping (sun agroforest) techniques.

The production trials are used to develop and document in detail management practices for hawthorn as an alternative crop in agroforestry production systems and provide an economic feasibility analysis for producing hawthorn as a commercial crop.

Once fully established, demonstration farm trial tours will be conducted for prospective producers and buyers, government and non-government agencies, as well as other interested individuals and groups.

The tours will be conducted through partnership with organizations such as the Tourism Action Society in the Kootenays (TASK) and the BC Medicinal Herb Grower’s Association.

Planned publications from this project include a survey of manufacturer requirements, an economic feasibility analysis report, and a hawthorn management practices technical document.

Source: Agroforestry Industry Development Initiative

Categories: General


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