At the annual Idaho Forest Owners Association Field Day event in 2011, I had the pleasure of hearing Washington State University Extension Forester James Freed speak about non-timber products. Freed is one of the few people in the world who have a “minor in forest products.” In the Pacific Northwest and beyond his enthusiasm is legendary and contagious.
For example, in the ever increasing pet-care market, Freed says that Americans will “pay whatever it takes to keep Fido happy.” He means that there is a market for Fido’s restful snooze, specifically, western red cedar shavings used in doggy beds. Pet supplies are a fast-growing market even in slow economic times, as we buy for our pets but not for ourselves.
The market for non-timber forest products includes wild birdseed mix to feed native birds, which is made from seeds, berries, and nuts. There are also markets for crafts and for specialty woods. One example of a specialty wood, according to Freed, includes “that character tree you saved out of love [that] might be worth marketing.” Do you have a character tree that might be ready to become something new?
Freed listed off many other non-timber possibilities at the session I attended in northern Idaho, returning often to the most obvious: holiday greenery. Freed says one can provide evergreen plants or holly, for example to the holiday greenery market. In the floral market, scotch broom is often needed. (I well remember battling scotch broom in our pasture as a kid and never considered it might be used in floral arrangements!)
Extension Forester Freed says, “Know your market,” and suggests that what you sell “at the bottom of your basket needs to be as good or better than what’s on the top.” Freed put on his horticultural hat and showed the group how to manage bough material. Here’s a link to one of his articles on “Christmas Greenery”.
The 2012 Idaho Forest Owners Field Day took place on Saturday, July 14, in Benewah County. More information about the event is available at the IFOA website.