By Jennifer Paige, MANITOBA COOPERATOR
The Woodlot Association of Manitoba (WAM) says the province’s privately owned forests are a cornucopia of foods if entrepreneurs are willing to take a walk on the wild side.
Following a number of interviews and public meetings, WAM has prepared a report that sees a bright future for wild food foraging and farming, in short, a wild food industry in Manitoba.
“In this project, we are concentrating on the foods and not the other aspects of non-timber forest products and how people might be able to be involved in supplying to a market in a small way,” said Mike James, co-author of the report and former WAM president.
WAM is a non-profit corporation representing owners of woodlots and family forests. This research project was funded through Growing Forward 2.
WAM conducted extensive research, initiated more than 80 interviews and held six public meetings throughout the province.
“The interest and enthusiasm was great. At the public meetings we were able to talk with people about what they had in mind for the wild food industry and what non-timber products were, got their input and the agreement was pretty consistent,” said James.
Manitoba currently has 2.4 million acres of privately owned wooded land shared by approximately 13,500 landowners, which WAM believes could offer an untapped opportunity for economic diversity.
Products stemming from woodlot areas include wild nuts, berries, forest honey, birch and maple syrup, edible fungi, herbal tea sources, essential oil sources and wild salad ingredients.
The report indicates that the connection between forages and processors is currently fragmented and identifies the challenges of linking them together to build an industry, recommending the first step to be the creation of a wild food advisory council…
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