Growing community profit: Local business taps into medicinal herb industry

Taproot Botanical Alliance is a Floyd Co. start-up participating in the Gauntlet

FLOYD COUNTY, Va. – Entrepreneurs working to start or expand their business through the Gauntlet business competition are also focusing on giving back to our community.

During their third week of class, participants in the Gauntlet discussed ways their businesses can benefit the community by making social, environmental or equality impacts. Corporate responsibility is a key element in Taproot Botanical Alliance, a Floyd County start-up by David Grimsley, that teaches farmers to diversify their crops by growing medicinal herbs.

“Taproot Botanical Alliance was created to address all three of these aspects. Being the change I want to see in the world is why I created this model,” Grimsley said.

Grimsley comes from a farming background and understands the struggles farmers endure, and how difficult it can be to make a substantial profit. Grimsley said the medicinal herb industry is booming right now and can be an excellent revenue stream for farmers willing to learn the business.

To meet demand, Grimsley wants to help local farmers make the transition and create a space to sell their products through what he describes as a community hub. At present, Grimsley said herbalist will often import herbs from other countries, even though they can be grown here.

Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb. (David Grimsley)

“There are a lot of farmers who could potentially grow these herbs, and there are a lot of herbalists, but there is not a lot of consistent processing right in the middle. That’s where Taproot really steps in, is to be able to provide consistent processing by creating these medicinal herb hubs.”

Grimsley is committed to helping rural, low-income areas where manufacturing and mining have failed by creating a more robust agricultural industry that also is more environmentally friendly. Rather than importing herbs from other countries, Grimsley said many of the small southwest Virginia communities already have a culture of wild-harvesting high-value medicinal herbs, such as ginseng and goldenseal. It’s an opportunity Grimsley wants to bring to local farmers.

Grimsley said the hub-model could be taught and replicated in other communities, and would encourage farmers to learn from one another and help one another rather than create a competitive environment. Grimsley already has seed in the ground and the foundation of his business, but he is still looking to secure funding in order to see his vision to fruition.

For more information about Taproot Botanical Alliance, email David Grimsley: .

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