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Wild Crops Project: Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Award

Monday April 07, 2008

Salem, Mo - George and Penny Frazier have operated certified organic wild crops Missouri farms for the last 4 years.The couple, together with several partners was awarded more than $17,000.00 in funding from The Northern Sustainable Agriculture Research program, (SARE) for a project demonstrating profitability in certified organic wild crops. The Fraziers partnered with the Pioneer Forest, The National Network of Forest Practitioners and several landowners to demonstrate the economic viability of certified organic wild crop collection of non timber forest products or special forest products.

The Pioneer Forest has been the premiere leader of sustainable managed timber harvest for more than 50 years. That forest is comprised of more than 150,000 acres in the Missouri Ozarks. The Fraziers approached the forest last year about the possibility of leasing acreage and certifying it pursuant to the National Organic Program for wild crop harvesting. Certification will soon be completed and more than 250 species will fall within that certification. However, the Fraziers and the forest have agreed to start their work with witch hazel harvest. The leaves, twigs and bark will be processed and distilled on the Frazier's facility located north of Salem Missouri. Penny has been contacted by several companies wishing to purchase the entire year's production.

Certified Organic witch hazel is highly sought after and a key component in more than 20 types of preparations for organic health and beauty preparations. Currently the demand for certified organic witch hazel is met in France with retail pricing running as high as $3.00 per ounce. The demand for certified organic health and beauty products has demonstrated the strongest growth in the entire organic industry.In the USA, the entire Health and Beauty Care market is almost USD $40 billion and is expecting 3.4% annual growth. The demand for natural health and beauty products shows steady 23% growth. Currently many of the ingredients used to formulate products is met from Europe and Asia.

There are more than 38 species of wild plants harvested by the ton in Missouri. However, the market place is demanding the harvests be certified organic in order to used in the preparation of certified health and beauty products. Certification of land for wild crop organic harvests is not a difficult process. One must demonstrate the product is harvested in a sustainable manner. The Fraziers do this through both pictures and their daily harvest log. Certification also insures the harvester and the landowner will received up to 80% premium for the product.

Many people are unaware of forest certification options available for their land. This is one of the primary roles The National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP) will play in the project. The group is comprised of rural forest landowners, government entities and academics dedicated to achieving sustainable rural enterprise and social justice. NNFP is the technical reporting partner and will assist in disseminating the information about the project. Grant funds will be available to help farmers and forest owners learn about certified organic wild crops at the NNFP annual meeting, which will be held in Steelville Missouri in September. One can learn more about the project and wild crop harvest at and the NNFP presentations at

Giving Thanks And Giving Back: Traditional Holiday Food Makes a Comeback

Licking, MO November 1, 2006 Giving thanks for the bounties of the Earth – is never more pertinent than at Thanksgiving. Family and friends gather together to celebrate old cultures, and past traditions. For Penny Frazier, giving thanks is her life work. Working with native forest plants, she has found a way to help Americans reconnect with their wild lands in a traditional way -- through their foods. Starting with the Pine nut, a food native to 58,000,000 acres of land in the United States, Penny has found a way to give something back to nature while protecting wild lands. She hopes that the growing popularity of reviving traditional Holiday food will inspire others to do the same.

Pinenuts are a gourmet, non-timber forest product with a $100 million U.S. market. Pine nuts are known throughout the world as a nutritious healthy snack (raw or roasted) and are an essential ingredient in many gourmet food dishes. Traditionally, the pinenut was a life-link food with gatherings and celebrations -- the Washo, the Shoshone, Paiutes, Hopi and their ancestors ate pinon nuts as a storable, multi-faceted food. In more recent times, consumers were introduced to the New Mexico pinon during lean times many Native Americans harvested and sold these nuts as part of their livelihood. Blight and drought have severely impacted the availability of Indian Nuts (pinon) making them unavailable in major markets for the last 5 - 7 years. This year marks the first harvest in 10 years in New Mexico.

While pinenuts are harvested in many regions of the world, their commercial value has been underestimated here in the US. As a result, over 99% of pine nuts consumed in the U.S. are imported. Natural stands of pine nut producing pinyon pines in the U.S. are not specifically managed for pinenut production. Millions of acres of land producing pinon pine trees have been cleared by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to create grazing land for cattle and sheep. It is possible the New Mexico harvest may be the last for decades as experts theorize that we are seeing the "Apple tree" effect. Apple trees are known for giving one last bumper harvest before death.

Known as "Pinon Penny", Penny's advocacy work on behalf of wild lands for their food values began 10 years ago. This work has been noted by many environmental and land use organizations. Awarded the highly competitive S.A.R.E. for her work with Native plants, Penny has been actively involved in creating sustainable land use management on public lands for pinenuts. As a result, the large Nevada pine nut has become popular in New Mexico over the last few years. She has created the premier site on the internet to teach and advocate on behalf of the wild foods, (

Along with her husband, George, they own and operate Goods From The Woods. Goods offers both the Nevada Soft Shell Nuts, and the New Mexico Pinon, both of which are sold with the shells on. By contrast, commercial pine nuts have already had the shell removed and are preserved either by roasting, cooking, or spraying. Penny likes to explain the dramatic difference in this way, “Imagine you never had eaten a fresh banana, but had only had dehydrated banana chips...well that is the difference between a pine nut processed and un-shelled. Roasted and preserved is not too bad, but dehydrated is cardboard by comparison." The Fraziers are hopeful that the recent revival of interest in Piñon Pinenuts will lead to increased domestic sales, and better land management.

Among the website features are a downloadable Pinenut Recipe Flyer, as well as a handy Roasting Guide. To find out more about the work that Goods From the Woods is doing, or to start your own pinenut tradition, visit them online at

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