News / USA

Forest-to-Table is Latest Twist in 'Eat Local' Movement

Edible mushrooms, berries and salad greens flourish in the woods

Multimedia

Audio
Tom Banse

Carol Wick contemplates the possibilities for her woodlot near Enumclaw, Washington.
Carol Wick contemplates the possibilities for her woodlot near Enumclaw, Washington.

The local food movement is growing in the United States. Restaurant owners and families look to nearby farms for fruits, vegetables and meat. Now small forest owners want to join the local food party. They're promoting edible mushrooms, berries, and salad greens that flourish in the woods.

Carol Wick and her husband own a small slice of the American dream, 12 hectares at the edge of the Cascade foothills, southeast of Seattle, Washington. A short walk from her doorstop, past some pastures and a dilapidated barn, is the fir and cedar forest that covers about one-third of her property.

"Our object is not to turn this into a harvestable timber farm, but to do something else with it," says Wick, who wants her beloved forest to generate supplemental income from any number of edible delicacies. "It just kind of lends itself to have a U-pick in the forest."

The Wicks have planted gourmet mushrooms and native berry bushes. She ticks off a long list of forest produce she could potentially sell.

"Wild blueberries, huckleberries, the wild raspberry, wild blackberries. Some of the forest native vegetables that you might have, like miner's lettuce for instance, purslane. Those are not that hard to harvest and they taste good."

The Cascade Harvest Coalition is a nonprofit in Washington state, dedicated to localizing food production. Its director, Mary Embleton, won a small grant to explore how to expand the 'eat local' movement to include small forest landowners.

"It's, I think, a very natural progression to start to expand this type of programming and consumer education to a broader set of working lands," says Embleton, who wants to play matchmaker between suppliers and markets.

She had a good turnout at an initial information meeting to present the idea to small woodlot owners. An expert panel talked dollars and cents. They said wild mushrooms can fetch $24 to $40 per kilo. A kilo of huckleberries can net $16 in the restaurant trade. Chefs also are showing an appetite for fiddlehead ferns.

One potential buyer is Tony D'Onofrio, who works for a chain of local grocery stores.

"I love this idea of forest-to-table because there is more to the forest land than just harvesting timber," he says. "If you can harvest sustainably year after year some product that ends up on the table, it means the forest stays intact."

But he also offers a reality check. Size matters. To be efficient, even a modest chain like his needs greater volumes and scale than a small forest can generate.

"A grocery store needs to have a product available for a consistent length of time, let's say throughout the chanterelle season. You want the chanterelles there and you always want the bins full because your customers expect them," says D'Onofrio.

He suggests that farmers markets might be the best outlet for forest bounty foraged on smaller scales.

Professional forester Kirk Hansen consults with small woodlot owners. He says another strategy might be to connect a landowner directly with one specialty shop operating on a similarly small scale.

"You know, what we're talking is boutique harvesting and sales. So if somebody has twenty acres [8 hectares] you can only expect to harvest so much sustainably off of that," he says. "So if it is a floral green like salal or sword fern you may only be harvesting a few pounds of that every year off your property."

A Seattle-based company called Foraged & Found has made a full-time business out of combing public and private timberlands in the Pacific Northwest for edible delicacies. The company's pickers forage very large parcels for seasonal bounty to sell to gourmet restaurants.

Governments are also giving the trend a nudge. A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant is helping a Portland, Oregon nonprofit research and promote the most viable non-timber products produced by family forests. And in Asheville, North Carolina, the county tourism board promotes food adventures by giving families directions for berry picking, mushroom gathering and harvesting wild leeks in the forest.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid