It seems like the world can’t get enough of Appalachian mountain medicine. Ginseng, black cohosh, goldenseal – global demand is increasing for the forest plants native to the West Virginia mountains. Those who live in and visit the mountains know about the health benefits of fresh mountain air, recreation in the forest and the nourishing qualities of Appalachian botanicals.
A new initiative of the Yew Mountain Center, in partnership with Future Generations University, will help visitors and residents of the region better understand, appreciate and experience the value of our native plants and their diverse ecosystems. The Mountain Medicine Trail is an agritourism initiative that will be piloted in Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker counties thanks to a Rural Business Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The Mountain Medicine Trail will promote agritourism through the design and development of an autoroute allowing for various levels of visitor engagement,” said Sarah Collins-Simmons, Program Manager at Future Generations University.
“Whether visiting a museum display or experiencing our forests firsthand on a hike, this project seeks to showcase the rich cultural and ecological history of this part of Appalachia.”
The project will also provide new opportunities for landowners growing forest botanicals.
“Our aim is to help create new economic opportunities for landowners and farmers who are implementing long-term sustainable woodlot management plans that prioritize the diversification of agroforestry products,” she said.
Julia Flint, the new West Virginia Forest Farming Initiative Coordinator based at the Yew Mountain Center, will be reaching out to prospective partners to help create and participate in the Mountain Medicine Trail.
“There are many opportunities for local businesses to become involved,” Flint said. “We hope to include forest farmers, producers, as well as retail, lodging locations and educational sites. The goal is to create a network of destination sites throughout the three counties.”
Flint noted that they are in the beginning planning stages of this initiative and want to include input from potential partners and those interested in the project. Anyone who wants to learn more or is interested in becoming a partner on the Mountain Medicine Trail can email Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org.