A green ethical investment is not easy to find and all Merri and I really wanted to do was to get away from the maddening crowds. Yet I can trace many of my profits (and those of my readers) to just a handful of incredible real estate distortions I spotted over the years.

In the mid 70s I recommended London real estate and bought houses I thought were in quiet parts of town. This created an eleven times increase in my investments in less than two years.

This investment of course was not a green ethical investment.

Then in the 80s we bought homes in Naples Florida, a sleepy fishing village with just one flashing traffic light in the whole town. We had to drive nearly an hour to reach major stores like Wal-Mart or Office depot. Our nearest international airport was hours away. When we left, Naples was a booming city with the wealthiest income per capita in the U.S. We made another small fortune without trying. Yet Naples was not an ethical green investment either.

Next I recommended buying land in Ecuador and this has been one of my better tips. Ocean lots that my readers bought just a few years ago at $2,500 are selling at $20,000 and more. Here we start seeing green ethical investment after green ethical investment.

I also recommended investing in Ashe County. Since coming here six years ago land prices have risen as much as ten times. This was a very ethical green investment. I just did not realize this at the time.

These repeated profits result one very basic demographic fact… more and more people crowding onto the same amount of land. As is often spoken. “They ain’t making land no more.”

Now ethical green investments are becoming increasingly valuable because of changing demographics.

Not all real estate prices will rise quickly. Other factors are at work. This report shows a special distortion that can bring added profit from property that cerates an ethical green investment.

One factor is a desire for space. This makes small green towns a good bet. The people are ethical, friendly and real estate is exceedingly inexpensive in global purchasing terms. U.S. small town real costs may fall even lower as the U.S. dollar falls.

9/11 changed people’s values. Family, friends and quieter, more peaceful lives have become more important than before. It is easier to find an ethical green investment here. Having these fine qualities is harder to achieve in downtown Manhattan or Central Chicago or in the heart of L.A.

America could be in for difficult economic and social times. The value of these small towns and their honest core values will grow and finding an ethical green investment will grow in importance.

We moved into Ashe County to get away from the crowds, hustle and bustle of life. Making money in real estate was far from our mind but real estate prices are about to explode.

I can see the handwriting on the wall. Growth is coming to this area and no amount of wishing will stop it.

When Merri and I sold our last cabin in North Carolina (because we did not have enough land and the altitude was too low-summers too hot) the realtor told us we could never find another similar place. It was deep in the woods near a roaring creek and indescribably wild and beautiful, but I knew he was wrong. There had to be another such place, but higher, cooler when the lowlands were warm. I did not realize how nearly right he was as it took us six years of continuous search to find Merrily Farms and Ashe County.

This county adjoins Virginia and Tennessee was established and named after Samuel Ashe in 1799. It is often known as the Lost Province because until recently hardly anyone knew of the place.

The county seat is Jefferson and the county has a land area of 426.16 miles but only a population of 22,209 people. This population is wide spread as well. The only towns are Jefferson (1,300 population), West Jefferson (1,002) and Lansing (183).

This is a totally rural area with three commercial crops, Christmas trees, timber and tobacco. There are several factories in the county manufacturing furniture and electrical goods though two have shut down recently (Thomasville and Black and Decker) There are numerous tourist activities such as canoeing on the new river, scenic drives though Southern Appalachian Wilderness, leaf looking and camping.

Ashe county is isolated but sits almost equidistant from the north and south of the east coast of the United States where the largest, wealthiest inwards migration in mankind’s history has taken place in the last decade. Now one in six Americans live in a county that touches either the Atlantic or Gulf Coast.

Here are the signs I see that suggest to me that this area will boom:

1. The prices here are a fraction of the county just south (Watauga)

2. The first cappuccino machines have arrived in Jefferson.

3. Prices have rapidly accelerated in the last three years.

4. The major road from I-77 is being widened to four and even six lanes.

5. Wal-Mart has built a super store.

6. The first golf course community has been a success in Jefferson.

7. Art galleries and interior designers are setting up shop prolifically in town.

Eerily these are the same signs I spotted in Naples when that town began to boom.

Yet you can still find an ethical green investment here.

There are draw backs. The nearest airports for commercials flights are Tri-Cities Tennessee (an hour and a half in summer-often impossible in winter) or Charlotte and Greensboro which are long two hour trips. You still have to travel to Boone (45 minutes) or Wilkesboro (an hour) for a lot of shopping. Services (such as internet, etc.) especially outside Jefferson are primitive (though we do have DSL) out here now. The labor market is tight.

There is another trend however that is having a volcanic impact on prices in Ashe County that is really hot.

That’s the weather. National Geographic devoted a huge portion of its September 2004 issue to it… Global Warming. The 20th century has seen the greatest warming in at least 1,000 years. Sea levels rise with the temperatures, a result of sea ice decline. Higher waters initially drown low lying islands which is happening now from the Indian Ocean (the Maldives Islands continued existence is in doubt) to Western Alaska (Inupiat Islands are eroding). Peru’s ice caps are contracting more than 600 feet a year. The Larsen Ice Shelf is collapsing. Alaska’s forests are dryer and have more forest fires. Lake Chad in Africa has shrunk by 90%. The Western U.S. is in a five year drought. The Sierra Nevada Snow pack melts earlier and the Sacramento River gets 12 percent less spring and summer snowmelt. The list goes on… and on.

Warmer weather also creates increasing numbers of larger storms, hence a record number of hurricanes hit Florida in 2004.

This trend is fueled by the boom on the beach.

Remember that one in seven Americans live on the East and Gulf coasts.

These crowds create problems. Traffic jams are everywhere. Quaint charming villages have turned into high rent suburbs and lost their charm. Along with the traffic jams comes overcrowded schools, higher crime, a shortage of affordable housing, higher taxes, water pollution and surging costs of dealing with nature’s risks.

Mother Nature grows nastier with the warming and this coincides with the crowds. We are seeing more and stronger hurricanes, record floods and beach erosion. The danger to life and property is rising, and the cost of disaster relief is soaring. Insurance costs have risen dramatically and even so is available only with government support.

This is creating a new migration north as humanity seeks relief from Florida’s stress. As the coastal crowds grow, the traditional strategy for hurricanes, to get out does not work. There are not enough roads to evacuate everyone ahead of a storm.

Another USA Today headline read, “Anxiety, fatigue grind down hurricane-lashed Floridians; ‘Normal’ comes to mean insomnia, power outages and evacuation orders”.

The stress from facing these ordeals is going to cause many people on the coast to leave. Many will head north to Georgia and North and South Carolina.

All these trends create great distortions that add up to undervalued land in Appalachia. Now one more discovery makes this land look worth even more as an ethical green investment.

Thousands of acres of what appears to be useless land can be purchased in Ashe County at very low prices. Yet this land may be or can be full of gold… green gold that is. Ginseng.

Long before the European invasion of North America, American Ginseng was used by the American Indians as a demulcent, a general tonic, as a natural restorative for the weak and wounded and to help the mind.

Wild American Ginseng is rich in the Rb1 group of ginsenosides, which have a more sedative and metabolic effect on the central nervous system. This also increases stamina, learning ability, and has been used for stress, fatigue characterized by insomnia, poor appetite, nervousness and restlessness, and to regulate immune systems.

Ginseng has also been found to stimulate and increase metabolic function, increase physical and mental efficiency, lower blood pressure and glucose levels when they are high, and raise them (blood pressure and glucose levels) when they are low, increase gastrointestinal movement and tone, increase iron metabolism, and cause changes in nucleic acid (RNA) biosynthesis.

Plus the wild Ginseng right now sells for about $250 for 4 ounces!

There is incredible profit potential in American Ginseng. Though most investors have never heard of it, French fur traders realized the enormous profits clear back in the mid 1700s.

They reportedly paid 25 cents per pound to the diggers and then sold the Ginseng for $5 per pound in China. By 1752 the French Canadian traders were selling $100,000 worth of Ginseng. That was a lot of money in those days.

One of the early Ginseng traders in the U.S. became one of the world’s richest men, John Jacob Astor. It has been said that he started his fortune in the late 1700’s when he made a profit of $55,000, all in silver, from Ginseng collected on one of his first expeditions.

Daniel Boone was famous as an outdoorsman but he made his fortune trading Ginseng.

A heavy concentration of wild American ginseng is found in the Appalachian Mountains and especially grows wild in the eastern half of North America on hardwood forests on well-drained, north facing slopes in predominantly porous, humus-rich soils.

Wild and cultivated ginseng produce an annual crop in the United States and Canada valued in excess of $25 million. The price of wild root is about three times that of cultivated root and almost all exports are sold to China.

The numbers for ginseng farming can be stunning. It may take several thousand dollars to plant a half acre of ginseng, but the crop can return $30,000 a year!

So why isn’t everyone a ginseng farmer?

Ginseng is still difficult to cultivate, requiring almost constant attention during the growing season and considerable effort in the spring and fall to attend to Ginseng’s need for shade.

Intensive field-cultivated ginseng is an expensive venture, requiring valuable land, high-cost artificial shade and costly maintenance for four or five years before a harvest. These costs are beyond the capacity of most potential growers.

But there is a little known catch. called woods assisted farming. This is a technique that uses a natural forest canopy for shade.

Typical ginseng farming requires shade fertilizer and pesticides because the plants are normally crowded together in unfavorable conditions.

But if you have an expanse of land in the right area and widely scatter the seed, the farming effort almost disappears. Disease mainly comes with closely packed crops. Plus ginseng grown this way brings the highest price. The greatest demand, from the Orient, is for root that is old, variously shaped and forked, moderate in size, stubby but tapering, off-white, firm when dry, and with many closely formed rings. Aged and slowly grown roots are preferred and bring the highest prices.

Field-grown, sometimes heavily fertilized, cultivated roots often are harvested when relatively young. These generally lack many of the characteristics typical of wild roots, are less in demand and lower in value.

In addition, selling seeds to other growers may provide a small income several years after planting, and 1-or-2-year-old seedlings may also be sold. The seed crop may also be of value in expanding one’s own plantings.

Ginseng grows best in hardwood forests on well-drained, north facing slopes in predominantly porous, humus-rich soils. Ashe County has lots of this type land that I believe is very undervalued.

To learn I brought an expert on ginseng to our farm. What I learned was astounding. North facing Appalachian, hardwood shaded, slopped land is perhaps the least utilized and most undervalued real estate in all of North America!

Wild ginseng grown brings enormous prices, but is only one of many crops. Galax, Black Cohosh, Bloodroot and Goldenseal are just a few of dozens of other highly valued crops that grow only in this environment. Most farmers do not know of this potential. The usual drawback to such farming is finding and buying the land.

If an investor wants the land anyway to hold as an inflation hedge or to live on, the harvest creates pure, extra profit. Plus the value of these crops tends to grow beyond inflation!

There are two ways to cash in on this. The first is as a farming investor yourself.

If instead you prefer to have your own international business, you can get in the business of helping overseas investors buy an expanse of this land and offer a farm management service!

I wish you good luck in your global business. With 35 years of international travel and business under my belt, I tend to be very discriminating about what opportunities will work and which will not. Rarely have I seen two opportunities as exciting and perfect for any markets as tax liens and north facing woods, so it is my pleasure to present these ideas to you. May your adventures be prosperous and everyday offer as much fulfillment and joy as Merri and I have enjoyed.


P.S. Learn on how to have your own international business. Go to GaryScott.com

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words

Entrance to Gary & Merri Scott’s Merrily Farm LittleHorseCreek.com