Huckleberry Shakes
Huckleberries: The Value of "Value-added"
"In a healthy economy, the money circulates within the community, rather than pouring out."
-Silva Forest Foundation report
Huckleberries are a crop that as of yet cannot be domesticated &mdash though some areas are experimenting with mechanical harvesters, for the most part they are hand-picked in their native habitat. Wild berries begin to ripen in the Pacific Northwest each year in August, selling locally for $6 to $8 per pound. Their "season" is quite short, because the berries perish quickly and don't ship well. But if someone were to take that pound of huckleberries and turn it into a few jars of huckleberry jam? They could sell for $6 apiece, last for months and be shipped anywhere.
This processing of a raw resource is called "adding value." Any wild-harvested (or locally grown) product has the potential to provide the community in which it is harvested extra income, perhaps even extra jobs. Value-additions can be simple, like braiding garlic together instead of selling it at a farmer's market by the clove; to complex, like drying wild mushrooms and then packaging them in grinders and creating a Web-based "storefront."
Other value-added ideas:
  • Weaving fir branches and pinecones into holiday wreaths.
  • Buying baskets (locally produced, of course) and creating gift packs with jam, soap, salad dressing, syrup, wine and/or honey.
  • Infusing oil or vinegar with wildcrafted herbs.
  • Dying floral greens (particularly beargrass).
  • Labeling and promoting products as "locally produced" and "responsibly wild-harvested."
  • Adding a handcrafted recipe book.
Value-added products can sometimes attract tourist dollars as well. Huckleberry festivals and special "Limited time: huckleberry shakes $3" signs abound in August and September in parts of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. If huckleberries are unavailable in a tourist's hometown, value-added products make meaningful souvenirs.
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