Writer: Kevin Robinson-Avila
ALBUQUERQUE - After more than a year of planning, herb growers, retailers and alternative medicine practitioners plan to launch the New Mexico Herb Growers Association June 12.
New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde will host the inaugural meeting, which is open to the public.
"Herb growers from across the state have expressed interest in joining," said Charles Martin, an agricultural specialist at the center. "The association will be of special interest to growers and herbalists, but membership is open to everyone."
The association will work to promote New Mexico's herb industry, offering workshops on growing, processing and marketing herbs and providing networking opportunities for producers, retailers and users, Martin said. It will also educate the public about the benefits of herbs and the availability of locally grown products.
"The association will organize an annual herb fair to showcase a wide range of homegrown herbs and products," Martin said. "The fair will bring herb growers and users together to find out more about each other. It's a great way to promote the industry."
The first herb fair will likely take place this fall, Martin said. It will include booths for growers and retailers to show raw and processed herbs, cooking classes featuring culinary herbs and herb processing demonstrations on making soaps, tinctures and ointments.
The association will develop a Web site with a comprehensive, online directory of growers and herb buyers to help market products locally and nationally, Martin said.
"Effective marketing is key to developing this industry," Martin said. "Herbs are relatively easy to grow, but they can be hard to market. The Web site can help with that."
The association will monitor federal herb regulations to inform growers and users about emerging laws. It will also lobby state officials, Martin said.
Participants can attend the free inaugural meeting to learn more about the association. However, it costs $30 to become a member with voting rights and free access to all educational workshops. Members will approve association bylaws at the meeting and elect the first board of directors and officers.
The meeting is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. To get to the science center, turn west off Highway 68 at mile marker 7 between Espaņola and Velarde.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Martin at (505) 852-4241.
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