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Their Businesses Are Growing Like Weeds
It takes a lot of skill to sell weeds to farmers, but two North American entrepreneurs have developed the knack.
Terry Foley, Harrison, Idaho, and Allen Lockard, Eolia, Mo., say their weed businesses are booming, with the potential to make millions of dollars a year. The men grow and broker sales of weeds, herbs, roots, barks and other natural products herbalists, natural food stores and pha maceutical companies.
If you're in the right part of the count and are looking for a new money-makin opportunity, you might be able to gro weeds for them, too. Here's more inform tion about the two weed companies.

Northwest Venture Farms
Farmers and the government have been trying to eradicate "goat weed" for more than 50 years, says Terry Foley of Northwest Venture Farms (NVF), but goat weed, or hypericum, can fetch as much as $5 a lb., and each acre produces at least 1,300 lbs. It's much sought after because hypericum is used to produce St. John's Wort - the "hottest" new product in health food stores. It's used to treat depression.
St. John's Wort is already used widely in Europe as a natural alternative to the anti-depressant drug Prozac and has been proven safe and effective by university studies in the U.S., Foley says.
He has contracted with 35 farmers in Washington state and northern Idaho to grow 2,400 acres of the weed this year, and the company expects to produce 2.64 million lbs. of it. Commercial-grade seed stock comes from NVF's greenhouse. It produces a bushy, 12-in. high, 12-in. dia. plant with five-petal yellow flowers. The whole plant is "micropulverized" at a processing plant.
The perennial weed is planted at 15 grams per acre with NVF equipment on irrigated land in May. It's harvested with green-chop forage-type equipment by NVF custom harvesters in late August or early September the first year and some is harvested as early as early July in subsequent years. The first year it produces about 990 kg's (weight out of the field) per acre and up to 1,800 kg's in subs quent years. Life span after two years isn yet known, Foley says.
Cost of production and delivering the wee to NVF is $450 to $550/acre, excluding a on time $380 per acre program enrollment fe and harvest costs of about $75 per acre, h says. There's one drawback, though. Hyper cum thrives only in certain areas. So far, th only growers are within a 300-mile radius Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, because that area h the ideal growing weather for the weed.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Foley Northwest Venture Farms Inc., 5805 Sou Lakeside Drive, Harrison, Idaho 83833.

American Botanicals i
Allen Lockard's Eolia, Mo., company did $14 million worth of business worldwide last year.
Lockard, 44, has been collecting medicinal herbs, roots, barks and weeds for 30 years. American Botanicals' catalog includes over 100 items collected from a network of some 100,000 collectors and growers all over the U.S.
Here are just a few items American Botanical is interested in: echinacea, better known as purple coneflower, an herb processed and used for treating colds; U.S.-produced ginseng root which is sold in Asia for a variety of uses; slippery elm bark which is used in making throat lozenges. And golden seal used for treating upper respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu.
"Prices fluctuate throughout the year," Lockard notes. "For example, a pound of dry echinacea may bring anywhere from $10 to $20, according to supply and demand."
The company provides complete instructions on harvesting the products it buys. For example, "when collecting herbs, do not pull them out of the ground, cut them off and leave the root system in the ground for regrowth," advises its catalog.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, American Botanicals, P.O. Box 158, Co. Rd. FF, Eolia, Mo. 63344 (ph 573 485-2300; fax 3801; E-mail American Botanicals).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #2