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A Virginia Tobacco Commission Grant Application by

The Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine in Floyd County, Virginia


Chinese Medicinal Herbs

Chinese Medicinal Herbs


The purpose of this Briefing Paper is to provide you with a succinct understanding of an important project that was launched in the Floyd County Region in January 2014.

The Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine (BRCCM) is expanded its Chinese medicinal herb gardens. It received a $250,000 privately funded matching grant that was applied to its request for a $150,000 grant in 2015 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission , which will enable the launch of a county-wide Agribusiness Project. Somewhat unusual, the project is not a start-up: BRCCM has an established medicinal herb garden that is over 7 years old and is producing high quality herbs. The market (both national and international) for medicinal herbs is hot and BRCCM has the product, but decided to add farmers/acreage to produce greater quantities, which ties right in with the Tobacco Commission goals of job creation. The following 4 paragraphs are excerpted from the actual Commission grant and should answer all basic questions.

Executive Summary                                                                    

Jobs can be retained and created (new) by growing Chinese Medicinal Herbs (herbs). Economically disadvantaged farmers can earn a Living Wage by growing high-ROI, herbs that are in high Demand and short in Supply. Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine (BRCCM) has operated its herb garden for over 7 years in Floyd and will serve as a pilot program for the entire Tobacco Region. Implementation cost is low and risk is negligible: Proof of Concept has been completed and a national herb-buying Consortium established. GOAL: Fifty farmers will be out of poverty in three years and 10 support jobs will be created.

Problem, Opportunity, or Need

Of 864 farmers (2007 census) in Floyd County, 745 (86%) do not earn a Living Wage. Herb crops have a significantly higher economic benefit to farmers than conventional crops. Floyd is at the same latitude as herb farms in China and provides proven, excellent herb farming conditions per BRCCM experience. Supply and efficacy of herbs from China continue to decrease as its pollution increases and farming villages are destroyed. Demand for quality herbs is strong in the U.S.; over 27,000 Chinese Medicine Practitioners are licensed. BRCCM recognized the problem/opportunity/need – it will mentor Floyd farmers and pilot the project for the Floyd County Region (and, ultimately, the entire region covered by the Tobacco Commission).

Proposed Solution

BRCCM has created a sustainable Agribusiness project that meets every Tobacco Commission goal, directly involves/benefits farmers, and can reach the whole county/region by expanding BRCCM’s herb garden for wide-ranging educational/training purposes, and involving as many farmers who want to participate in BRCCM’s herb-growing Consortium. BRCCM experts will train the farmers, assist from planting to harvest to processing/packaging/shipping and providing a direct outlet for sales to a National Consortium. BRCCM will test growing conditions in neighboring counties. BRCCM’s herb farming method requires 4-foot-by-100-foot plots, making the project easily available to all farmers wanting to participate/benefit in whatever quantity of herb plots they desire.

Significance of the Project

Medicinal herbs can become the largest export product in the Floyd Region. The project has been designed to recruit/train Farmers to participate at virtually no risk and with a Return on Investment (ROI) that creates/expands/retains jobs in the proven expanding herb-growing industry. The Floyd Region can become known nationally/internationally as a superior grower/exporter of herbs, thereby reversing the world-wide trend of exported jobs and imported goods from China. Farmers can earn a Living Wage and citizens can learn product processing skills for newly created jobs. BRCCM is poised to be a leader in this future-focused opportunity while piloting/studying these initiatives for involving/benefiting the entire Tobacco Region.


This project is real. It is not a research project. It is not a start-up project. It will immediately produce jobs.  It follows a Cohort approach (staggered groups of 15 farmers over a 2-year period), has an Advisory Committee, and most importantly, will have a processing facility and a national sales consortium, so farmers do not have to worry about processing or sales – they can focus on what they do best, which is farming. Implementation cost is low; risk is close to zero. Chinese medicine, which has proven itself for over 5,000 years, is now becoming more mainstream as Western/Eastern medicine is beginning to establish Collaborative Clinics (some use the word “integrative” rather than “collaborative” or “cooperative”) that utilize the best of each medicine to treat patients more effectively. Nationally recognized examples include: Johns Hopkins Medicine International (who is leading the industry in building a network of global affiliates), UCLA, Duke, and Columbia. BRCCM and Floyd County are at the right place at the right time to play a major role in supplying much-needed herbs.









Herb Garden Admin