Travis is increasing the production capacity of ginseng and overall efficiency of his operation with the construction of a drying, cooling and storage facility. Without adequate space, he is unable to fill all the orders for seeds, rootlets and roots that he receives. No ginseng grower in North Carolina sells at a commercial scale large enough to fulfill current demand, Travis said.
The 30-foot by 40-foot building contains drying racks, a cooler room, sorting tables and an area for seed processing. He is also purchasing a fruit press—a water bladder press with a stainless cage and 20-gallon capacity—which greatly decreases time spent extracting seed from the ginseng fruit.
“This project is essential for me to grow,” said Travis, who plans to eventually transition from his work as an electrician to be a full-time grower. “I can harvest, process, pack and ship significantly more product by having adequate space and facilities at my farm site.” The site also gives him a business presence, enhancing his professional credibility with customers who visit his farm.
In 2008, Travis started planting between 50 to 150 pounds of ginseng each year on 10 acres of his land. He was originally inspired when he noticed fewer and fewer ginseng plants in the Appalachian woods. Since then, he has started teaching others how to grow it and plans on collaborating to collectively market and process the product.
“I think ginseng is an extraordinary part of our Appalachian mountain heritage and am thrilled with the possibility of making a full-time living at it and educating others on this increasingly rare plant,” Travis said.
Travis currently markets through Craigslist, the N.C. Ginseng Dealers list, and his own website.