FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Drive most any back road in West Virginia in the colder months and it will soon be clear that the state has an ideal habitat for wild icicles. A new initiative at the Yew Mountain Center aims to help WV take its rightful place as a leader in the global wild icicle trade. The U.S. Department Of Labor And Family Farms (OLAFF) announced today that it was awarding the Hillsboro, WV non-profit organization $4.1M to pilot a program aimed at growing the region's capacity to supply the world with sustainably-sourced wild and wild-simulated icicles.
"We think this is an incredible opportunity to help mountain families, especially those that live near north-facing rocky outcrops, to earn a significant income while preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the region," said Will "Chill" Lewis, Yew Mountain Center's icicle farming coordinator. "Many here take our icicles for granted, but around the world, Appalachian icicles are increasingly in demand for their clarity, size, and botanical content."
This opportunity arose as an unlikely silver lining of the COVID-19 epidemic as new technology and better systems were developed for cold shipping and storage. Costs of shipping frozen material have fallen in recent months, lowering an important barrier of entry for small producers of icicles.
The organization, known for its experiential education programs has planned a series of "mittens-on" workshops starting in Nov. 2021. Participants will learn production techniques, ethical foraging practices, and strategies to sell their icicles to premium markets. Visit www.yewmountain.org to learn more.