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  HRF celebrates 15 years of educating the world about herbs

Herb Research Foundation is 15 this year -- and still growing. (See staff photo.) HRF was founded in 1983 in response to the need for a bridge between modern American medical practice and growing public interest in the use of botanicals for health and medicine. Today, through media outreach and public education activities, HRF reaches more than five million people a month with accurate, positive information about the health benefits and safety of herbs. HRF's membership now includes thousands of individuals and companies in 40 different nations around the world. "I'm proud of the Herb Research Foundation, of the dedication of its staff and members who have built it into a leading voice for the responsible use of herbs in modern health care," said HRF founder and president Rob McCaleb. 

 From its modest beginning in 1983 as a two-person office with one phone and a single four-drawer filing cabinet, HRF now employs a core staff of 17 plus a number of work-study employees and volunteers in a 2,900 square foot office space overlooking the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. As for filing cabinets, HRF's in-house library currently contains more than 200,000 scientific articles on approximately 1,500 plants. HRF also maintains a proprietary database that is continually updated with the latest evidence supporting the use, benefits, and safety of more than 200 commonly used herbs. 

Rob McCaleb founded HRF during his 14 years as Director of Research at Celestial Seasonings, Inc. For the first few years, HRF operated out of the Celestial offices before moving to an independent location. A common vision and partnership was forged with Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council when the two agreed to co-publish the peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, for which Mr. McCaleb continues to serve as technical editor. The first meeting of the HRF Professional Advisory Board, made up of 18 of the world's leading medicinal plant experts, was held in October, 1982. In 1989, HRF took up residence at its present location at 1007 Pearl Street, Boulder, Colorado. 

 As HRF has grown, so has the scope of its information services and public outreach activities. Drawing from its extensive library and multiple-on line databases, HRF provides custom botanical literature research services, 180 Herb Information Packets on herbs and health conditions, and our popular Natural Healthcare Hotline service. The HRF website at www.herbs.org features an informative mix of hot news, research reviews, and an interactive "speak out" page where visitors can post questions to be answered by HRF Information Specialists. 

 Currently, the HRF editorial and research departments are hard at work on a book slated for publication in 1999. The HRF editorial department also manages the writing, editing, and peer-review process for the Research Reviews department of the quarterly journal HerbalGram

 Another important area of focus for HRF is sustainable herb development. HRF's international herb development projects foster a number of vital goals, bolstering rural economies and improving quality of life for disadvantaged farming families, protecting local medicinal plant populations by enhancing access to cultivated herbs, and providing a source of high quality, organic botanicals for the international market. At present, our Africa project touches the lives of hundreds of farming families by boosting local economies with earth-friendly agriculture and providing communities with training, jobs, and better access to low-cost botanical medicine. 

Under a three-year contract with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Africa Bureau and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), HRF is now working with the Agriculture Research Council of South Africa to assess opportunities for botanical agribusiness and assist in improving local agricultural research and business development networks in South Africa. If successful, similar projects will be implemented in other sub-Saharan countries. This fall, HRF co-sponsored the first of a planned series of international development symposiums designed to provide participants with the tools they need to find a profitable niche in the worldwide botanicals market. 

As we celebrate our 15th birthday, HRF extends a heartfelt thank you to all of our members. Your support enables us to meet our goals of public and professional education,  sustainable herb development, plant conservation, and improved world health through the use of botanical medicines. 

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