Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry program works with private landowners, government agencies, and non-profit partners to promote the development of sustainable, innovative, and integrated forest management strategies with a focus on the production and marketing of high-value non-timber forest products, or NTFPs.
Our goal is to support landowners interested in exploring economically and ecologically sustainable models of forest production, by providing site visits to inventory species on private land; planting stock sales for forest herbs such as ginseng, goldenseal and ramps; opportunities for peer-to-peer learning in the sustainable timber and NTFP sectors; market support via networking for both buyers and sellers as well as market outlets, such as the Chesterhill Produce Auction; and informational resources, including fact sheets co-authored with The Ohio State University, the Woodland Owners Toolkit, and much more. We aim to provide resources to landowners at any level of production and to help interested landowners move along the production pipeline, by providing the information, resources, and opportunities required to start a forest-based operation, expand it, and bring forest products to market.
By providing resources for woodland owners we have been able to effectively train landowners and partner agencies to identify alternative income opportunities, like forest farming of ginseng, goldenseal, and other forest botanicals, as well as how to conduct land restoration projects with native plants, and mitigating the impacts of non-native invasive species that can adversely affect forest health and diversity. Recently the Sustainable Forestry program has joined the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition, a network of forestland owners, universities, and governmental and non-governmental organizations that share a common goal of improving agroforestry production opportunities and farming capabilities among forest farmers.
Current Programming and Resources
Landowners can apply for mini-grants to implement silvopasture and/or forest farming on their land, through the Catalyzing Agroforestry Grant Program. These takes the form of direct support payments and will assist producers in designing appropriate projects using technical assistance and science-based planning strategies. The ultimate goal of the effort is to increase ecosystem sustainability and diversity by scaling up agroforestry practices.
Rural Action is partnering with Virginia Tech and other universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, to expand access to forest farming information and opportunities in the Appalachian region of Ohio and its neighboring states.
The Appalachian region is a valuable source of NTFPs that may offer alternative income opportunities for landowners. This page provides landowners with information about economically important species that can be cultivated in the forest understory.
Rural Action has been offering high quality stratified American ginseng seed, goldenseal rootlets, and ramp bulbs for planting since 1999.
Download this free guide to growing and marketing at-risk forest herbs, including details on site selection, Forest Grown Certification, and cultivation guides for ramps, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, Solomon’s seal, and American ginseng. File is a 6 mb PDF.
For many landowners, managing and restoring the land you have bought or inherited is a primary goal. Often times, how to start this process isn’t clear. Our goal is to help put you in touch with the resources you need to appropriately manage your land to increase aesthetics, value, and biological activity for many years to come.
Since 2014 Rural Action has worked with the National Forest Foundation and Wayne National Forest to conduct restoration plantings and monitoring for American ginseng, goldenseal, and ramps.
Rural Action’s Forestry and Environmental Education programs are partnering to deliver a hands-on, forest herb curriculum to students in schools across the region.
Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry program assisted in producing case studies about alley cropping in the Appalachian region.
National Service Members
Each year, Rural Action mobilizes more than 35 energetic and passionate people across the region to help small communities do big things through our Leadership Development and Service program. Our National Service members serve in communities through a yearlong commitment as part of our Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps, an AmeriCorps State/National program administered by Rural Action, or our through our AmeriCorps VISTA program, Rural Renewal. See members who are currently serving with Rural Action here or learn more about how we are growing local leaders here.