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MORAN: Cherry pickers, tree planters and mushroom hunters

July 12, 2017 - 12:30 PM

 


OPINION


Nomads of the world, welcome to B.C.!

Here we live in a place where people can carry out a certain type of seasonal lifestyle that can't be replicated anywhere in the world. It isn't advertised and there is no guide but word seems to get around, and with practice and patience, anybody can participate in our underground harvesting economy.

Before #vanlife was a trendy Instagram hashtag for hipsters bragging about their ability to live on the road, there have been entire generations of people who live without bank accounts, social security or a permanent address. With our excellent economy, seasonal climate and freedom of movement, we are setup to work the land without having to plant a single thing. The modern working nomads have several options in spring, summer and fall. In winter they must return home, find cheap rent in the seasonal communities such as Oliver and Osoyoos, or fly away to wear out the winter months in sunshine in a place where food and accommodation are very cheap.

There are different levels of organization. Some will hitchhike across the province to get to the morel mushroom patch first thing in the spring with a fifty dollar bill, pouch of tobacco and rolling papers, buckets, a rack backpack to haul out volume of fungus, and nothing else. They know there will be a mushroom buyer to pay them cash and provide the bare necessities on the other end. Sometimes a car full of first-timers will drive from Quebec. They will start with cherries and quickly hear rumours about the mushroom patch. The lure of money will get them there but their chance of success is very low.

"I thought there would be a field of mushrooms for us to pick," says a surprised and disappointed would-be mushroom hunter who is trying to find the patch but doesn't know how to compete with hardened and experienced shroomers who have picked clean everything in a ten kilometer radius and are willing to go anywhere and do anything.

After a few years of cherry picking, tree planting and mushroom picking, a person will know themselves and what they are capable of. For some, the dirt, bugs and sunshine are a good trade-off for a typical lifestyle in the city. There are men and women camping out in the bush and scouring the wilderness who are past the age of 90. Most people who participate in this underground economy do it for one or two years and then continue on with the typical North American urban lifestyle.

The year of 2018 will be very interesting after this intense fire season. The most valuable crop is the spring morel mushroom that will only grow the first year after a fire out of the burnt ground and forest. There will be hundreds of locations to choose from for harvesting, and prices will be fluctuating up and down with the huge supply available. Those who pick the right location will benefit but many will spend the season driving around and chasing the dream without much luck. Fortunately there will always be a steady fruit harvest afterward to provide work, as well as the tree planting camps. Lots of people will try all three until they find what suits them best.

For myself, I will be in the bush picking and buying as many morels as possible next spring, and keeping the farmers’ market shoppers and local chefs fully stocked with the coming wild harvest.

Check out my Facebook page Everything Wild to stay up to date on our local foraging scene.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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