ForestHer NC helping forest landowners tackle nontimber forest products and agritourism

by | May 10, 2021

According to data recently published by N.C. State Extension, the forest sector contributed $34.9 billion to the North Carolina economy in 2019 and held its place as the top employer among manufacturing sectors in the state. Growing by roughly $1 billion each year for three consecutive years, the forest products industry in North Carolina continues to be a robust economic producer. While timber harvests may quickly come to mind when thinking about forest products and what drives the industry, nontimber forest products may be the right opportunity for forest landowners looking to manage their woodlands for more than timber or even to explore income opportunities during dormant times between timber harvests. An upcoming ForestHer NC webinar will focus on exactly that: agritourism and nontimber forest products, specifically woodland botanicals and pine straw.

Protecting Your Woods: Nontimber Income and Agritourism, the second of three interactive Zoom webinars about protecting your woodlands, will take place Thursday, May 13, at 1 p.m. EST. The webinar will feature presentations from agritourism and forestry professionals as well as provide landowners with an opportunity to network and exchange ideas. There is no cost to attend this webinar, and participants can stick around afterward for an open discussion with presenters and participants.

Goldenseal is a native medicinal herb that grows in rich woods in the eastern United States.

Jeanine Davis, associate professor and extension specialist at North Carolina State University, is one of three presenters on the agenda. Jeanine will introduce woodland owners to forest farming botanicals, many of which are native to North Carolina forests. Bloodroot, black cohosh, ginseng, goldenseal and medicinal herbs can be understory value in a forest, and in many cases, overlooked understory value. During her presentation, Jeanine will help landowners consider whether woodland botanicals may be a good fit for their property.

Following Jeanine is Lisa Hartrick, assistant forest supervisor at Bladen Lakes State Forest (BLSF). Bladen Lakes State Forest is a working forest, actively managed and creating its own income. While some of the forest’s yearly revenue is generated through timber sales, pine straw and charcoal are nontimber forest products also producing revenue for the forest. Referred to as North Carolina’s demonstration forest, BLSF is a showcase to landowners who want to see what can be accomplished on their own land. Lisa will walk webinar participants through what a pine straw stand should look like and the N.C. Forest Service model for pine straw sales, presenting landowners with a good opportunity to explore managing pine stands for pine straw or, as the Washington Post recently described it, the ‘brown gold’ that falls from pine trees in North Carolina.

Annie Baggett, the third presenter featured in this webinar and an agribusiness developer/agritourism marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, will help participants understand the basics of agritourism, which Annie describes as education, recreation and entertainment on working farms. One key takeaway in store for landowners participating in this webinar will be answering the question, “Do you like people?” Annie will help participants explore what comes with welcoming the public onto your property, into your forest; things like restrooms, parking, cleared paths, picnic shelters, amenities possibly as overlooked by landowners as the understory value in those woodland botanicals. What about identifying your audience, liability insurance and marketing? If you’re thinking hospitality, you’re warming up to what Annie will be discussing with participants during what has shaped up to be a well-rounded incubator for any woodland owner, including those who have a plan, those who thought they had a plan, and those who inherited a woodland without a plan and without a clue where to go from here.

To register for this webinar, click here. You can view recordings of previous ForestHer NC webinars here. And, if you want to stay up to speed on all ForestHer NC programs, webinars and workshops, follow ForestHer NC on Facebook.

ForestHer NC supports, educates and empowers a community of women landowners and natural resources professionals to engage in forest conservation and land stewardship in North Carolina. While ForestHer NC gears workshop information specifically for women landowners, any and all landowners are welcomed and encouraged to participate.