Wildcrafting in the Yukon
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Bev Brown
Posted on: February 27, 2000

You advertised as a broker for wildcrafted herbs. Can you give me any information on the markets for certain herbs that I can collect in the Yukon Territory, Canada? I have been working on a feasibility study for two years. Apparently the last remaining intact wilderness in North America (the Yukon) holds some marketing power in the wildcrafting world. So far, I think fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) would be profitable harvesting species.

I would really like to know if I’m out-to-lunch with this idea.

First, I would recommend you study the Commercial Growing and Marketing section of this website. This is my specialty, and I am asked to often comment on questions which may not have answers (yet). This will give some idea as to my background and grasp of this subject.

Second, I would also recommend you visit my website www.nw.net/ram for services I offer.

At a workshop I gave in Calgary, Alberta, I had several individuals who came all the way down from the boreal forest region. They indicated a number of native plants which do have commercial importance. While fireweed hold no real markets, uva ursi does. And, by the way, I have a slick way to harvest the leaf, using portable vacuum systems.

Is it profitable to collect for an individual wildcrafter with a homemade dehydrator system?

A homemade dehydrator, if made cleverly, can be used by more than 3 or 4 collectors, working full time. Most are stationary, although protably systems have been used to put 2,000 acres St. John’s Wort.

What is the regular procedure for wildcrafters?

Too broad a question. You should read my book "Native Plants of Commercial Importance" (available from Richters). The introduction part on bush permits and other things needed to know are outlined. Spirituality is not "what you do, but how you do it." Keep your value systems in mind as part of this process.

I was hoping to find a buyers price list: is that available?

Most of this can be found in my book "The Potential Of Herbs As A Cash Crop". It lists what is paid at various levels of harvest and/or production. Also has more than six pages of buyers, and their addresses. I will have new books out available through Richters of Canada. Go to www.richters.com and aske to be notified when available.

Are latin names used?

Of course. This is the only way plants are distinguished. Some "fingerprinting" is done via HPLC and other standards.

Does anyone care where the plants come from ?

Of course they do. For example, anything harvested less than 40 feet from 200-car traffic per day will have toxic levels of lead. Sprays, history of crop, COG [Certified Organically Grown] tags; all of these types of things are critical in any marketplace.

Could you comment on these species available in the Yukon:

Achilles millefolium

Solidago canadensis

Geum macrophyllum

Cornus canadensis

Arnica latifolia

Actea rubra

Lycopodium clavatum

Artemisia sp.

Pyrola sp.

Ledum

Galium

I’ve made comment on some of these crops in my book "Native Plants", so I won’t comment of them here. Those you list do not enjoy large markets. There are several books out, variations on my own, for Alaska.

One trip took me to Fort Yukon, so I’ve been inside the Arctic Circle. You have some interesting mushrooms, lichens, and cones (white spruce) which might want to be explored.

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