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FOSTER, W.Va. — A Boone County, West Virginia, business is growing its operations and looks to create new jobs through that expansion, which will see its central office relocate from Fayette County to Foster, West Virginia.

“We’ve leased a facility at Foster near Corridor G (U.S. 119),” said Appalachian Botanicals Founder/President Jocelyn Sheppard.

“We are in the process of outfitting it so our offices can be there and our manufacturing and shipping can all be processed right there at our offices. We are excited to be a Boone County-based business. We are closing the Fayetteville office and consolidating our operations in Boone County.”

Sheppard added that through the company’s healthy growth, they see the need for the close proximity of operations which sees the farm at Ashford, just a short 20-minute jaunt from the new offices.

Currently, Appalachian Botanical employs 40 full-time workers and looks to retain a core crew through the winter months before expanding once again for the preparation of a planting in May and an expected first harvest in the coming months.

Production on the 35-acre reclaimed mining land at Ashford that produces lavender for a myriad of consumer products has increased.

Plant propagation is the process that grows new plants from a variety of sources including seeds and cuttings.

“It is a process of taking the cuttings off of our own plants and we grow them until they are big enough to grow them in the field,” she said. “That has been going really well for us.”

Through a collective effort, workers have creatively dismantled wooden pallets and built over 100 wood tables to assist with the process.

A high tunnel that stretches 130 feet long has been erected on the site to facilitate the grown of over 100,000 new plants.

A high tunnel is a polyethylene covered structure that allows growers to increase production of certain crops.

“We can grow all of our plants in one place, keep those plants in the high tunnel over the winter and they’ll continue to grow and be ready to be planted in the spring,” said Sheppard. “Through this process we can continue to supply our own plants.”

Sheppard added that while the colder months of the year are the slowest in terms of production at the farm, she encourages interested workers to apply through the company’s website, where the applications are filed for quick access when needed.

“We are looking for people who would be quality long-term employees for us and become part of our family,” she added. “We are always on the lookout for good people. We need folks who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, like to be outdoors and can work well with other people for a common goal.”

Additionally, Appalachian Botanical has launched an online store that can be accessed via its website or directly at shop.appalachianbotanical.com. Categories include body care, culinary, aromatherapy and home & apparel.

“This is exciting news for us, and it is part of the growth we want to continue to experience,” she said. “We are proud of this and we launched in late September and we will continue to add more products,” she said.

“We’ve gone far beyond the lavender oils and mists that we initially anticipated creating. We’ve expanded to a lavender-infused CBD cream and hand sanitizer.”

Once the lavender leaves the farm, it will be transported in a dried or frozen state to Mystic Formulations, a processing laboratory in South Charleston, West Virginia, where the oil is extracted through a steam distillation process. Sheppard added that in the future, her goals include housing her own processing laboratory that would facilitate a fully functioning in-house operation in Boone County.

Beyond its own products, AB continues to produce raw product for the multi-billion-dollar essential oils industry that continues to grow across the U.S.

AB looks to expand its outreach through partnerships and adding to its roster of retail shops that carry its products across the country, with recent efforts focusing on West Virginia and central Appalachia.

With a workforce that sits at approximately 95% Boone County-based, Sheppard is delighted with the efforts of local workers.

“We are very excited about the direction of the company,” she concluded. “We look to continue our steady and healthy growth. I’m most proud that we have had employees with us for over a year and I’ve been delighted with how creative and focused our local work force has been in terms of on-site problem solving and overall dedication. I’m very pleased with our people.”

Visit Appalachian Botanicals at appalachianbotanicals.com

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.

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