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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid