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Growers Bring Unique Facility To Small Village

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Rhodiola rosea is said to have mood-enhancing qualities, especially for people in northern climates, and it’s certainly boosted the mood in this small village west of Leduc, now that it’s home for Canada’s first processing facility for the medicinal plant.

Members of the Alberta Rhodiola Rosea Growers Organization (ARRGO) opened the facility at the end of October, with several hundred people, including Premier Ed Stelmach and Minister of Agriculture George Groeneveld, on hand to attend the opening ceremonies.

Rhodiola rosea is a herb native to northern Europe and Asia. It grows well in the north and germinates under cold conditions. The plant is said to boost physical and mental performance and can be used to help the human body adapt to stress. According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, in Russia and Scandinavia, Rhodiola rosea has been used for centuries to cope with stress from the cold Siberian climate.

ARRGO is a new-generation co-operative of Rhodiola rosea growers, with membership blossoming from 30 to 140 members in the past two years. There is already high demand for commercially grown Rhodiola rosea worldwide.

The Rhodiola Rosea Commercialization Team brought together more than 30 Alberta scientists, agronomists and farmers on a five-year mandate to bring about the development of commercial products from the plant. This has been a partnership between the Alberta government, educational institutions, industry and producers.

Since there is already a demand for the crop, ARRGO members already have contracts in place for the next four years to sell their entire crop to one Alberta buyer and one international buyer.

Premier Ed Stelmach congratulated the members and said the facility represented a huge leap forward for new industry in Alberta.

“Our ability to thrive is dependent on our ability to grow and adapt to changing market conditions. This growth is driven by those who look beyond the traditional, see the demand for products that we haven’t grown before, finding the opportunity and making a move in that direction,” he said.

Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld acknowledged ARRGO for its innovation, noting it’s one of only a few associations in the world cultivating and marketing Rhodiola rosea.

“I heard that at the start of the project, the team had a vision for Alberta to capture 25 per cent of the potential $80 million dollar market in North America,” he said. “It sounds to me like you are well on your way to being there already.”

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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