Ginseng

 

BACKGROUND:

The north-west area of Tasmania, near Deloraine, is an area that’s known for its incredibly fertile soil. One example of the prized produce that can be grown in the region is ginseng.

Ginseng is one of the world’s rarest and most valuable herbs. In some places it’s known to be more valuable than gold. Once harvested it’s the amazing looking root that’s been used as a medicinal herb in many Asian and North American cultures for centuries.

GINSENG:

Tasmanian farmer Ziggy Pyka has spent the last 14 years unlocking the secret of how to grow it organically on his bush block. An electrician in his German homeland, Ziggy decided moved his family to Australia for a new life and career. Inspired by the amazing health benefits of ginseng he settled in Tasmania to begin the patient task of growing this exotic herb.

Ziggy shows Costa a root that he’s dug from the ground that’s four years old and weighs about 30 grams. “We are trying to get anything between $200 and $400 dollars a kg for the ginseng root,” he says.

“People don’t realise how long the plants take to grow - two years just for the seeds to germinate, and then four to six years for the plants to mature,” he says.

It’s this long production time, combined with the need for perfect growing conditions that makes ginseng so valuable. But Ziggy believes the slow growing nature of the plant is what also makes it good for you. “Because it takes so long to grow, ginseng draws minerals out of the soil. The root contains most of the minerals we have here on the planet, and we know that minerals are good for you,” he says.

It’s believed that eating a piece of this prized root every day will provide health benefits such as enhancing athletic ability, improving mental agility and even improving sexual prowess.

Ziggy takes a gram of ginseng root every day, and believes that it gives him all the energy he needs. And at age 53 he reckons it makes him feel like he’s just 35.

In its native environment in the Northern Hemisphere, ginseng grows in the shade of large deciduous trees on the forest floor, an environment that Ziggy has recreated using shade cloth. “The first four years it didn’t work. I couldn’t get it growing. But because the sun in Tasmania is strong you need more shade cover. More than half an hour of sun through the day will kill the plant. After I found that out and built the shade house, I am confident of growing ginseng,” he says.

Ziggy runs the region’s largest ginseng operation, and sells (online or at the farm gate) a range of ginseng infused products including face creams and chocolates. He admits that commercial success has been a long journey but what’s important is staying true to his passion. He also reckons it’s important to be a little bit crazy.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Ziggy sells a range of ginseng products online or at the farm gate:
41southtasmania.com

For information about Tasmania:
discovertasmania.com
tasmaniasnorthwest.com.au

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