FACEBOOK LIVE ON MAY 14: Conserving American Ginseng

Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation of wild American ginseng and propagation of cultivated American ginseng in Wisconsin and across the United States. As part of this shared cultural history that spans over 300 years since the discovery of Panax quinquefolius L. in North America, we’re proud to support programs such as the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival. Due to the widespread impact of COVID-19, this year’s festival has been postponed, however, celebrations of our heritage and stories about the lives of those working in the ginseng industry continue.

We hope that you take the time to tune in on Thursday, May 14 at Noon EDT/11 AM CDT via Facebook Live to hear the stories of three pioneering women working with ginseng: Susan Leopold of the United Plant Savers; Anna Plattner from the American Ginseng Pharm, and Anna Lucio, the wild ginseng coordinator for the State of Kentucky’s Dept. of Agriculture. They will be talking about  their own roles in ginseng conservation, how they all came to be passionate about saving the plant for the future, and their opinions on the impact of COVID-19 on the world of ginseng.  You and others joining live will be able to comment, react, and ask questions via the chat function.


Real-time captioning will be available for this presentation, available at this link: http://bitly.com/folklifeCART. We recommend opening it in a separate browser window or on a separate device.


This week, Dave Eckmann of Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce interviews Will Hsu, the President of Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, talking about how Will is navigating Hsu’s Ginseng under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elevated Conversations Podcast – Will Hsu (Part One)

Elevated Conversations Podcast – Will Hsu (Part Two)

Ginseng grower says festival postponement highlights difficulty with trade, Coronavirus

(Source: WASA-TV Channel 7)

By Stella Porter | Posted: Mon 4:16 PM, Mar 09, 2020  | Updated: Mon 6:44 PM, Mar 09, 2020

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) — The International Ginseng Festival is postponed until 2022. A big reason why is the Coronavirus.

A Hsu’s employee works with the product (WSAW Photo).

“It’s basically best for the public and best right now, with the travel restrictions, trying to get people to sign up, especially from China. It makes it very difficult to have a successful event,” said Richard Barrett, executive director of the Wausau Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But there’s another factor at play.

The senior operations director at Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Mike Klemp-North, says they were already looking at alternative products to sustain their business amid trade tariffs when the Coronavirus came along, since most ginseng in Marathon County is exported to China. While all ginseng farmers are taking a hit, t’s the smaller ones he’s worried about.

“What about the farmers who said, I have two acres in my backyard and I want to do this and invest and put equity into it. What about them? They are the voices that aren’t going to be heard in this,” Klemp-North said.

Following Monday’s announcement, Klemp-North says Covid-19 is another barrier in a laundry list of trade issues over the past few years. But he’s more concerned about the smaller operations they work with.

“It’s hard to hear, and it’s hard to understand as outsiders, what they’re feeling,” he said.

It’s hard to get the product to Asia due to ports there being closed.

“Last time I checked, we have at least two shipments sitting here in port in the United States, waiting to go overseas because there’s lack of cargo containers and lack of ships. We are so reliant on countries that are epicenters of this virus,” he said.

Covid-19 means Asian tourists aren’t buying the product in Chinatowns across the U.S., where a lot of the product is sold to visitors.

“We’re not seeing that business because of the result of the tourist implications of Covid-19. Now all of a sudden, we have another curveball, so now how are we going to change and address this new obstacle?” he asked.

As for the ginseng festival, which draws between 8,000 and 10,000 people to Wausau, not having it will mean a loss of about $3 million to the local economy.

Despite that, Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke is confident the event will be back and better than it was before.

“Stay positive, stay optimistic. When it comes back, it’s going to be even stronger and better than ever,” Mielke said.