Appalachian Headwaters is developing the Appalachian Native Plant Horticultural Initiative to train workers to collect and grow high-demand, low-supply, pollinator-friendly native plants. This program will serve the growing restoration and non-timber forest product industries in Appalachia and sell plants to the expanding mid-Atlantic native landscaping market.
Native plants are a growing market in the eastern United States. Reclamation companies, government agencies, landscape architects, landowners, wholesale and retail nursery owners, and home gardeners are increasingly interested in native plants. While the Appalachian forest has over 150 tree species and thousands of other plant species, buyers can find a very limited number of those species in the market. The plants that are available are often in short supply and not locally produced or adapted to our climate.
The Native Plant Horticulture Initiative will train Appalachian workers to fill this gap in the marketplace. Headwaters will provide the training, tools and staff to support trainees, helping to establish a strong native plant industry in central Appalachia. Additionally, we are helping to ensure that money spent on restoration activities in central Appalachia benefit central Appalachian communities. As part of this work, we are developing a native plant nursery and education center in southern West Virginia to source seeds, grow plants, and provide training to our growing community of growers and buyers.
Likewise, we are working closely with several partners to develop our region’s non-timber forest product industry. For many woodland owners, harvesting timber may not be the primary management goal, or it may be several years before that goal can be realized. Non-timber forest products — such as ginseng, goldenseal, mushrooms, pawpaw, ramps, and maple syrup — offer opportunities for landowners to increase the economic value of their forested land.
This form of forest farming can provide sustainable economic options for families in central Appalachia, allowing people to make money from their property while regenerating native forests. We intend to provide training to landowners including technical market assistance, site visits, and hosting workshops.
Native plant photos courtesy of Chris Asquith.