Ginger and Turmeric Workshop Targets Producers, Chefs and General Public Interested in the Health Benefits of These Two Ancient Spices

ginger

Freshly harvested ginger from VSU’s Randolph Farm.

Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is hosting its annual Ginger and Turmeric Field Day on November 5 from  8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at VSU’s Randolph Farm, located at 4415 River Road, Petersburg, VA 23803.

The workshop will include VSU’s Cooperative Extension Specialists explaining about the health benefits of ginger and turmeric, as well as how to grow, harvest, and clean these spice crops. Ginger and turmeric have been used widely throughout history in many different types of cuisines for their spice and flavor.  Not only are these spices culinary, but they are also medicinal and cater to a number of health conditions, including gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

These tropical plants are a high-value crop that until recently had been exported from outside the United States. “It’s considered a high-profit niche market opportunity,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, VSU’s Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist. “The going rate for fresh ginger in Virginia right now is $10 a pound, and turmeric is selling for about $12-$15 a pound.”

Ginger rhizomes are the prized edible underground stems of the perennial spice Zingiber officinale. Ginger is a tropical plant that Virginia farmers can grow under protected culture. Virginia baby ginger harvest is during September and November (approximately six to seven months after planting). The average yield per plant is three pounds of marketable ginger. Under ideal growing conditions, it is possible to obtain up to seven pounds of marketable baby ginger. Baby ginger is very tender, less fibrous, and less pungent than mature ginger and is often preferred by chefs. Higher prices are paid for baby ginger.

The harvest of mature ginger, the type usually found in grocery stores,  is 10 to 12 months after planting. Yield per plant is 5 to 7 pounds of marketable ginger per plant.

Rafie explained that in addition to selling fresh ginger and turmeric, a producer can offer many value-added products that can be made with these sought-after ingredients, such as tea, candy and even ice cream. “The market is there for small producers to sell fresh or value-added products for these two crops,” explained Dr. Theresa Nartea, VSU Extension agricultural marketing specialist. She advised farmers to determine five things before they start growing: what form of the product will they sell, who is their target consumer, what will the selling price be, where will the product be sold, and how will it be promoted.

Registration is $10 and may be paid on or before November 5 in the form of cash or checks made payable to “Virginia State University.” Checks may be mailed to Mollie Klein, Administrative Assistant, Virginia State University, College of Agriculture, P.O. Box 9081, Virginia State University VA 23806.

To register, for more information, or if you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or (804) 524-5960 /TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

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