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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
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 Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
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.

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