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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid