The Western North Carolina Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project, which was launched in 2010 by the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (based in Asheville) and Land-of-Sky Regional Council, is hard at work expanding sustainable forest-based businesses through a variety of innovative projects - projects that have already resulted in considerable business growth.
Before getting into an overview of some of these efforts, this project has just announced the Does Your Forest Talk Money series of presentations where you can learn how you and your business can create sustained value from one of WNC's premier natural resources. Over the next month, talks are set for Sylva, Burnsville, Mills River and Boone. There's also an all day workshop in Asheville and a related all day Farming Your Forest all day workshop in Stecoah.
As a result of the project, 14 Western North Carolina businesses received grants through a competitive process to expand into new product lines, improve marketing, and provide workforce training. The goal is to provide a minimum of 141 new jobs. Funding these businesses directly contributes to job growth in WNC, but also to the overall supply chain of forest products. Each of these businesses currently purchases timber and non-timber forest products directly from landowners, handcrafters, local sawyers, artisans, and gleaners. Through this project, the amount and variety of products and services being produced throughout WNC will increase as businesses expand and diversify.
Project locations across the region:
An overview of funded projects:Appalachian Designs is using $64,900 in ARRA funds to develop a dry kiln, concentration yard, and certification program for small diameter wood products.
Bark House Supply Company received a grant of $90,700 to expand to market and sell home accessories made from sustainably managed, locally sourced and manufactured forest materials in Spruce Pine.
Blue Ridge Wild Timbers is using $66,340 to construct dry kilns and develop marketing and education materials to increase capacity for locally sourced firewood while establishing cooperative relationships with unemployed loggers.
The Boggs Collective received $98,000 to create a cooperative workshop, woodshed, woodworking school and virtual gallery to support craftspeople and forest producers.
Clear Creek Wood Products is receiving $81,500 to operate a shaving mill from small diameter timber procured from area harvesters.
Doubletree Farms’ Community Forestry Project was awarded $99,998 to promote sustainable forestry through worker training, product development and cooperative marketing in horse logging, sawmill operation, and production of value-added forest products.
Furniture Specialties, Inc. is receiving $99,880 to gain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, conduct seminars, assist local vendors become FSC certified, and market the benefits of green furniture constructed with sustainably harvested wood.
Green River Forest Products receiving $88,050 to construct dry kilns to bundle, market, and transport environmentally safe and marketable firewood.
Hickory Nut Gap and Big Sandy Mush are accepting $99,519 to form a partnership to improve sustainable community forestry through local lumber, small scale sawmills, woodland and medicinal plants, ecotourism, eco-education, land conservation, and the use of local building materials.
Highland Craftsmen, Inc. is using $91,450 to certify locally sourced hardwood trees for structural purposes, certify local professionals to provide grade stamping, and provide this service to other businesses.
Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D)... will use $97,800 to train loggers and forest workers to sustainably open old roads and trails in private forests while implementing forest stewardship plans for innovative approaches to forest uses.
Recovering Traditional Cherokee Delicacies is accepting $62,327 to train and employ unemployed forest producers to harvest, grow, and market forest food products traditionally gathered by Cherokee tribe members, including wild edible greens and mushrooms.
Smoky Mountain Native Plants is receiving $90,000 to create a network and cooperative of producers to grow, harvest, and market value-added ramp products.
NC Mountain Mushroom Cooperative is accepting $83,200 to coordinate production of regional growers to collectively market and promote cultivation of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms and sustainably draw from underutilized timber resources to produce mushroom substrate, making this product available to the public.
Learn more about the effort at the project website.