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NMSU herb seminar focuses on dye plant project, essential oils chemistry

SANTA FE - Herbalists and herb growers will learn about the dye plant project being conducted by the New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde during NMSU's annual herb seminar on Thursday, March 1, at the Santa Fe County Cooperative Extension offices, 3229 Rodeo Road in Santa Fe.


"The seminar's focus this year will be on our dye plant project," said Charles Martin, agricultural specialist at the Alcalde Center. "Katy Blanchard, a medicinal herb grower and one of the driving forces behind this project, along with growers Luz Hernandez and Dave and Becky Thorp of Sunstar Herbs, will report on the first year of the project. Katy will also explain the best way to process the plants to bring out the plants' colors to their fullest."

Kayce Nicole Powers, an NMSU agri-business student involved in the marketing research portion of the dye plant project, will summarize the marketing survey that was conducted.

Another area of interest to herb growers and herbalists - essential oils - will be discussed by Omar Holguin, a post-doctorate research assistant at NMSU working with professor Mary O'Connell on the Medicinal Herbs of the Southwest Project.

"We are learning that essential oil crops can be potential alternative crops for New Mexico farmers," Martin said. "They are relatively easy to grow, harvest and process, and essential oil has a high market value. Omar will introduce growers to the chemistry of essential oils. He will be discussing what to look for when people do chemical profiles and how to read the lab results."

The seminar's other presentations will include Del Jimenez of NMSU's Rural Agriculture Improvement and Public Affairs Project discussing good agriculture practices (GAPs), and Lucy Aragon of the United States Forest Service talking about noxious weeds on public lands and how those who collect wild herbs can help control them.

The seminar is sponsored by NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Cost is $10.