How To Make A Living While Living in the Woods

 
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How To Make a Living While Living in The Woods

Income Opportunities in Special Forest Products

& Self-Help Suggestions for

Rural Entrepreneurs

 

Table of Contents

Introduction ............................................................................7

Chapter 1. Aromatics........................................................................9

Chapter 2. Berries and Wild Fruit ......................................................................................................17

Chapter 3. Charcoal..............................................................................25

Chapter 4. Chips, Shavings and Excelsior, Sawdust, Bark, and Pine Straw ......................................31

Chapter 5. Cones and Seeds ................................................................................37

Chapter 6. Cooking Wood, Smoke Wood, and Flavorwood..............................................................45

Chapter 7. Decorative Wood............................................................................49

Chapter 8. Forest Botanicals as Flavorings, Medicinals, and Pharmaceuticals .................................55

Chapter 9. Greenery, Transplants, and Floral Products .....................................................................73

Chapter 10. Honey.......................................................................129

Chapter 11. Mushrooms .....................................................................139

Chapter 12. Nuts............................................................155

Chapter 13. Recreation and Wildlife Recreational Enterprises..........................................................163

Chapter 14. Syrup................................................................................177

Chapter 15. Weaving and Dyeing Materials ......................................................................................189

Chapter 16. Specialty Wood Products................................................................................................197

 

 

Times have been hard in rural America, and the search

is on to find ways to increase job and income opportunities

for rural residents. There is growing awareness

that for many rural areas the path to sustainable economic

development will include innovative approaches

to natural resource conservation, management, and

Utilization.

In the past, the focus on our Nation’ forest resources has

been to view them primarily as sources of timber.

Compared to all that has been written about timber

management and traditional timber products, discussion

of nontimber or special forest products has been almost

Nonexistent.

One purpose of this publication is to

encourage a closer look at our Nation’ forests and

woodlands as intricate systems capable of sustained

generation of a wide diversity of goods and services.

In reality, in every region of the country there are

nontimber commodities and services that represent

opportunities for rural entrepreneurs to supplement their

incomes. Rural areas with access to public or private

forest resources, State and private forestry specialists,

and rural economic and small business development

organizations need to explore these new avenues in

special forest products. The intended audience for this

publication includes just these individuals: forestry

specialists, community leaders, rural economic development

professionals, and small business development

specialists who can effectively link potential entrepreneurs

with new forest-based opportunities and the

technical and financial assistance they need to take

advantage of these opportunities.

The types of special forest products discussed in this

publication include aromatics; berries and wild fruits;

charcoal; chips, shavings, excelsior, sawdust, bark, and

pine straw; cones and seeds; cooking wood, smoke

wood, and flavorwood; decorative wood; forest botanicals

as flavorings, medicinals, and pharmaceuticals;

greenery and other floral products; honey; mushrooms;

nuts; recreation and wildlife; specialty wood products;

syrup; and weaving and dyeing materials.

Each chapter includes a brief description of products and services,

market and competition considerations, distribution and

packaging, equipment needs, resource conservation

considerations, and a profile of a rural business marketing

the products.

In general, products suitable for very

small (one- to two-person) or part-time operations were

the types selected for discussion in the text. A suggested

role for each type of microenterprise within a broader

rural economic development framework is also mentioned.

Each chapter concludes with an appendix

that presents contributors and additional resources for use

in exploring each alternative.

 

Advice for New Entrepreneurs

1

Starting any new enterprise can be risky both from a

financial and a personal viewpoint. Before investing

money, time, and energy into a potential new venture in

special forest products, the new entrepreneur should

complete a personal evaluation, a market evaluation,

and a project feasibility evaluation.

The personal evaluation should walk a potential

entrepreneur through his or her reasons and primary

goals for considering the special forest products industry.

It is important to clearly identify and prioritize these

goals and the special resources and skills that an individual

can bring to a new venture. Prioritizing goals is

necessary because an individual may be expecting more

from the new enterprise than can probably occur. For

example, if a certain level of supplemental income is the

most important goal, the economic feasibility of certain

products may simply be too low to meet that goal and the

individual may be better off seeking extra income from

other employment. On the other hand, an inventory of

resources and skills may indicate underutilized human

resources, such as family members, whose labor could

effectively subsidize a small enterprise that would

otherwise not be cost-competitive

The market and project feasibility evaluations are very

critical as well. These steps are made more difficult by

the fact that the formal markets for special forest products

are more limited than for more traditional forest

products. This means that market information is more

difficult to obtain. Nonetheless, questions about the

market to be answered include who will buy the product,

what

exactly will be sold, and when the harvest and sale

would occur.

For the market evaluation, potential entrepreneurs need

to identify their potential market, or buyers, through a

number of approaches. The contacts and resources inthis publication

are a good starting place. Special forest

product buyers may advertise through specialty

magazines, local newspapers, or trade shows.

After locating a buyer, it is very important to clearly

document the product specifications before harvest, then

plan to meet or exceed these requirements. The markets

are small, and one careless mistake in failing to deliver

what a buyer was requesting may be enough to drop a

small producer out of the market.

Examples of product specifications include: how much material, what quality,

what characteristics (size, color, etc.), what prices, what

insect or other damages are allowable, interest in and

price reductions for lower quality material, and packaging

and shipping requirements.

For many special forest products, it is critical to coordinate

the timing of the harvest with the requirements of

the buyers. This is especially important when dealing

with products that have a limited shelf life, such as

mushrooms or floral greenery, or products that have

fairly seasonal demands, such as charcoal.

Closeattention must be paid to all applicable State and Federal

regulations, particularly regarding edible products,

potential noxious weeds, and products to be shipped out

of State

The project feasibility evaluation addresses the

technical and the financial feasibility concerns of the

potential enterprise. Technical concerns include where

and how the products will be found, harvested, packaged,

and distributed.

The location of harvest sites will vary with the product

and the forest land resources available in a region. Many

successful special forest product entrepreneurs do not

themselves own forest land; in fact, most of them may

not. Harvesting from State and Federal forests, from

forest industry lands, and from private forest land owned

are all possibilities. Permits are usually required to

harvest commercially from public lands.

There is agrowing interest in leasing land, which allows an

individual to manage an area of forest for the sustained

production of several special forest products.

The watchword for the future of the special forest

products industry will be sustainable harvesting. Research

is needed to answer most of the important questions

about regeneration, long-term ecological impacts,

and user conflicts from harvesting many of the products

discussed in this publication. Until the pace of research

on these nontraditional forest products quickens, guidelines

for recommended harvest locations and methods

will vary from one region to another.

It is the responsibility of the harvester to learn all he or she

can about the products and their forest stewardship responsibilities

For the financial evaluation, a budget needs to be

carefully developed, hopefully with the assistance of a

forest specialist and a business planning specialist. At a

minimum, the budget should itemize fixed and variable

costs (including interest) and expected gross and net

revenues. A careful inventory of resources already

owned and time requirements (how much is available

and when) is needed.

When all is finished, the potential entrepreneur needs a

clear accounting of the hourly wage he or she could

realistically expect to receive for the potential operation.

The entrepreneur needs to ask, " I make more

money at other available jobs or enterprises?" and "

other advantages, such as being my own boss or spending

time in the forest, compensate for lower wages?"

Needless to say, all of the above information from the

personal, market, and physical and financial feasibility

evaluations needs to be carefully developed and documented.

Market information, budgets, harvest sites, and

the host of project feasibility information needed will be

impossible to sort out and evaluate if not documented.

This becomes even more critical if an entrepreneur seeks

assistance in evaluating his or her idea (and such assistance

is highly recommended) or in financing the project.

A clear business plan is the single most important

documentation needed by any individual approaching a

rural banker with a request for a loanTechnical and managerial

assistance in these evaluations is available from a wide variety of

public sources committed to an area’ rural economic development,

agriculture, forestry, and small business development.

Examples of these sources include forest service staff,

county extension agents, local and regional economic

development organizations, small business development

centers, State departments of agriculture and economic

development, banks, State universities, and local community

colleges. The brief overview above and the brief

summaries in the publication that follows in no way can

substitute for direct, localized information and assistance

to the potential special forest products entrepreneur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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