The Hypothetical Entrepreneur – Diversify

From Adam Scouse:

As Non-Timber Forest Products Research Scientist Jim Chamberlain advised me, The Hypothetical Entrepreneur, I need to start thinking about diversification.

To create a business profitable enough to support me will require incorporating multiple medicinal plants instead of offering ginseng as a stand-alone product. This is really no problem at all.

According to Dr. Jim Chamberlain, Dr. Robert Bush, and Dr. A.L. Hammett in their essay Non-Timber Forest Products, The OTHER Forest Products, there are multiple plants that come from the woods that offer value and which fall into one of four categories: edibles, floral greens, specialty wood products, and medicinal and dietary supplements.

Edible plants are represented mostly by mushrooms but can also include nuts, berries, resins, blackberries, and maple syrup. Floral greens are typically associated with decorations such as wreaths and include dried flowers and fruit, greenery, and roping. Specialty wood products are products from the tree that are used without having to cut it down such as burls, twigs, and cypress knees. These are used to make handicrafts or musical instruments. Last, medicinal and dietary supplements are those products that have some sort of therapeutic value.

Medicinal and dietary supplements offer the largest potential market of the four categories. Author Peggy Brevoort investigates the current herbal market in her article The Booming U.S. Botanical Market: A New Overview

Brevoort gives a specific look at herbal industry growth in the United States as of 1998. Table 4 (pictured below–used with permission) from Brevoort’s article indicates an herbal market increase of over 300 million dollars in just seven years. 

From Peggy Brevoort's The Booming U.S. Botanical Market: A New Overview

Of tese herbal plants, are any known to grow in the local Appalachian Mountains? '

To answer this question, I referred back to Non-Timber Forest Products, The OTHER Forest Products. Dr. Chamberlain et al. have produced a list of local medicinal plants that are considered dietary supplements. The plants range from shrubs used to combat enlarged prostate, like saw palmetto, to hardwood trees, like slippery elm, that treat sore throats.

All that is left is to dust off that old field identification guide that has been sitting on the shelf and bring it along with me on my next hike.

You can follow the full series of posts by Adam Scouse for Handshake 2.0 at The Hypothetical Entrepreneur.

Adam Scouse is an intern for Handshake 2.0, a member company of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks, located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a technology park, a research park, and a science park on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.  The research park provides high-technology companies access to university faculty, university facilities, university equipment, and business-related support services.  The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center fosters commercialization and technology transfer of university research for both high-tech start-up companies and established technology businesses.

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