Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Interest in Digging Ginsing Changes With Economy

No you can't eat it but it is a part of our Appalachian culture, and you can buy the juice from its berries.

Ginseng roots and flowers grow naturally in West Virginia. The number of people who dig wild roots to sell fluctuates based on a number of things — weather, a bad market and high employment.

For The State Journal

When Janet Hodge was a kid she couldn’t wait to get the list of which wild roots dealers were buying and how much they were paying.

Today, although Hodge has taught her children to recognize ginseng, black cohosh, bloodroot, goldenseal and more growing in the woods, they’re not interested in harvesting it — no matter how valuable it is.

“They know they can go out and dig X amount of pounds for X amount of dollars but they don’t want to,” Hodge said. “They know what these things look like. They know how to dig. But they’re not going to do it. There’s a lot of work involved. They’ll mow somebody’s yard before they go dig roots.”

Many of their peers don’t even recognize the perennial natural resources, she said.

“Those of us who dig and use it to supplement our income, we’re kind of like the last of a dying breed,” said Hodge, president of the West Virginia Trappers Association in Glenville, which hosts auctions of roots and furs every January and March.

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