Growers, buyers and sellers of ginseng came from Roan Mountain in upper East Tennessee to Perry County at the eastern edge of West Tennessee and from all parts in between.
They attended the inaugural one-day Tennessee Ginseng Growers Meeting held at Middle Tennessee State Universityand co-hosted by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience.
Led by a group that included MTSU faculty, TDEC ginseng coordinator Andrea Bishop and MTSU alumnus Paul Martin Jr. , the gathering helped growers, buyers and sellers learn where the industry is heading.
“I was very happy to see so many partners from all over Tennessee,” said Dr. Iris Gao, an associate professor in agribusiness and agriscience and researcher with the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research.
Gao said a survey given to the more than 60 registered attendees “will give us a better idea of the current situation of cultivation of ginseng in Tennessee. … Nobody has this kind of information, and I wish we could do more for the farmers.”
She also discussed how MTSU will help farmers grow wild-simulated ginseng and research advances in growing techniques.
Martin, who is chief managing member of Clarity Resources LLC, said after speaking to the group that the “urbanization crush of the farmland drives the need for additional revenue sources on the land.”
Martin said he will be joining MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who helped welcome the group earlier in the day, and others on an upcoming trip to China, where major announcements regarding ginseng are expected. He also assured attendees that the travelers will be paying their own expenses and not using state funding.
Caleb Trivett, a Carter County, Tennessee, ginseng dealer who also teaches foraging. “I have access to the finest ginseng strains — big and small — in the state.”
MTSU plant and soil science professors Nate Phillips and Justin Gardner and visiting scholar Yuhang Guo, a lecturer at the Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, also made presentations.
Gao said the group’s next meeting will be held this fall, late August or early September, during the harvest and planting season. For more information, call 615-898-2430.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)