Well my friends and fellow pickers.
The mushroom season is coming to a close here in Canada, with the exception of the south coast and island. Its time to now move forward with the association. I have taken the lead and have and will work towards getting this association off the ground. I have not done this alone and I have spent many hrs on the phone and in personal meetings with different parties to get to this point. My thanks to those that have patiently listened to me and helped me center in on the issues most important to us (IMO).
We need more input so we can go into our first meeting with a core group to get things moving in the right direction in a productive , professional manner. Once that's done we can elect a board of directors.
The letter below is from Gerry (morelmaniac) It about says it all (way to go Gerry.. very well done)
Please respond to his questions and any thoughts you would like us to consider when we have our first meeting. Please know that we ask these questions now so we can keep directed as we move forward. You will have the opportunity in future meetings to voice your opinions, or do so to me in writing at anytime.
Its time to take this industry back and put it in the control of harvesters and Canadians........ not foreign companies.
(note to fellow harvesters in the USA......... This is a Canadian effort and no slight is intended or implied. I hope someone in the USA will grab the ball with us and move forward hand in hand in this effort.)
Please respond with your suggestions and input to Gerry's letter below.....
The time is now.
Peace and respect.
For All Prospective Founding Members.
As some of you may already know my name is Gerry Landry and I have some interest in helping in the creation of an Association that benefits our Industry. Some of you have discussed your goals and ideas with me over the phone and we have found that we have similar thoughts as to how to improve the recognition of the Botanical Forest By-Product Industry, or otherwise referred to as The non-Timber industry. The following letter is a condensed version of the Why's and How's and What's of my thoughts of a possible direction this Association could look at in order to be successful. What I have to offer is based on my own knowledge and experiences in creating a Company that is designed to market Morel Harvesting along with the Morels themselves and Eco-Tourism. I also market Diamond Willow Furniture and have marketed Moss. I do not have much in the way of scientific knowledge when it comes to many of the products our industry provides, nor do I have a full understanding of the worlds mushroom market, yet. But give me another 30 years and mI'll know a lot more.
The following is by no means an end all as to how I think things should be, only suggestions and possibilities. I welcome any and all comments, providing they are constructive, to my thoughts and ideas.
Association's Mission Statement.
When it comes to the Statement the Association will want to promote a Fair-Share mentality, promotion of Responsible Harvesting, promotion of Industry as a whole, promotion of continued research to bring about the development of Harvesting Areas protected from Clear Cut Logging, promotion of products harvested by members and finally Financial Integrity in the operations. I am sure I have missed something, so feel free to include your thoughts as well.
We will need to have both businesses and private individuals in order to be effective in our goals. The following is my suggestion as to how we can offer a service to members and Revenue Canada that facilitates creating an open look at the financial benefits to all parties.
The plan is simply to distribute swipe cards to Harvesters and Pads to Buyers. As each sale is made by a harvester to a buyer, instead of cash changing hands the funds could be directly deposited into their own account while simultaneously any and all federal contributions such as E.I, W.C.B., C.P.P. and Federal Tax will be deducted and paid by being forwarded by the Association to Revenue Canada. This helps the Harvester not only declare thier earnings but helps when it comes to the off season and they can legitimately apply for E.I. benefits and possibly have a nice return. Due to the fact that the Association has control of the account that holds those payments until they are due the Association will collect the interest gained. These funds can go towards the goals of the Association.
The same program can work for the membership buyers or Companies who purchase products from member harvesters. The Pads supplied to the buying stations are programmed to award commissions and make deductions.
Pads will give a print out of all distributions to both parties at time of sale with monthly reports of each individuals transactions mailed to supplied addresses.
We all know that most of us in this industry do not readily report our earnings and because of this our industry suffers. The Economic contribution our Industry can produce is the basis of a proposal I would put forward to garner financial funding from the Gov't. I would approach Revenue Canada and ask for their assistance in setting up the programming and financial assistance for Pad Purchasing. I am not schooled in the financial requirements of this approach so I am hoping there will be a full fledged Financial Planning Officer on board to advise. If one of you who receive this letter fall into any of the categories of Officers needed, then please E-mail me with your views and ideas for this Association. I will also welcome any and all constructive thoughts and ideas from those who only wish to contribute by being a member and are not looking to take on a position with the Association.
I believe this transparent approach to garnering the assistance and eventual recognition of all respective Gov't's will help in securing a membership roster that will eventually give the Association the clout to bring about a marketing board for one of our products. The main reason for the steps we are taking today is the degradation of the Pine Mushroom Harvesting Industry and the obvious miss-treatment of harvesters by the larger interests.
Botanical Products of The Association.
Even though there are many products we could choose to market through the Association, we must be realistic in what the Association is willing to invest in and in accordance to our abilities. There are two definite products I know that can help produce financial growth for the Association, and those being Mushrooms and Moss.
Moss is a product I began harvesting in the fall of '99. Our first order was 15 bags for which we sold at $5.00/bag. After completing some market research in the first season I increased sales to over 1,500 bags. By the beginning of our third season, our product and service awarded us possible sales of 15,000 bags in the Mainland area alone. I know what the customer wants and I can teach harvesters and buyers alike my proven techniques. These same techniques paid us $8.00/bag while individual competitors were being offered $6.00/bag. These numbers are also from 2001 and can easily be raised by 20% or so. I still have some contacts and with some proper marketing and the right field managers I know I can generate sales surpassing 30,000 bags in B.C. alone. There are numerous ways to generate sales with proven product.
I have a full business proposal ready for presentation should the Association be interested. I am not in the right country for Moss and there are possible members who are already equipped to buy and process product in the right areas. As stated I would be willing to help establish a network for sales and assist in teaching sustainable harvesting to Association Buyers and Harvesters within thier communities.
In the case of Mushrooms I personally put my efforts towards Morels only. Although I have picked Pines, Boletes and some of the others, I have chosen Morels as my mushroom of choice. For the last 5 years I have worked towards setting up my company to meet the growing demand for Morels and combine Eco-Tourism with the yearly harvests that are available in B.C..
I am in contact with B.C. Small Business, Europe Division and with thier help I have garnered contacts in Europe. These contacts have proven to be invaluable for obtaining serious offers for orders of Morels. One order alone has offered 180 Euros/kg. for #1 grade, 2-6cm and 220 Euros for Stuffers. This order was for 600-700kgs. This was a 50% jump from the beginning of the 07 season and 100% increase from local house offers.
Having this market available to the Association could prove to be invaluable to the growth and promotion of the Association's Mission Statement and Direction. Europe is our obvious largest available market for most of the mushrooms we harvest here in B.C. and that can translate into serious funds for The Association's projects.
I am also working towards setting up a Rustic Furniture Line of products created with Diamond Willow Wood which I harvest close to home. This is another Botanical product that could be added to the list of items that the Association recognizes as a Value-Added Product.
There are numerous products The Association could help market for the individual and business alike. By bringing on individuals and companies who produce items or products from botanical by-products and securing a sales generated payment at a fixed percentage, the Association can increase operating funds. This type of promotion needs more than just Internet support. The Association will have to look towards producing displays for Trade Show Attendance, Businesses, Presentation Meetings with Gov't or otherwise and this can be expensive.
Personally I have 3 products I would be willing to market through the Association and pay a 5% sales generated fee as a member regardless of position within the Association.
I am certainly not a financial wizard, but I can still do the math, and with my own adventures in business, I am aware of costs, as are the rest of you.
The 3 products I can offer have the ability to place up to $50,000.00 annually into the coffers with the Associations help and with increased recognition I am positive that number could reach double that. I am hoping that there are Artisans on the committee who can create promotional displays regardless of medium. Your talents are going to be well used and rewarded, not abused and unappreciated.
One of the goals I have for being a founding member is to help promote our industry and to help in working towards establishing responsible harvesting. This also includes creating protected harvesting areas and changes in Park Laws regarding Morel Harvesting.
Another goal of mine for being a member of this Association is to gain financially. Let's face it Folk's, we all want to improve our lives financially, and I believe that with the creation of this Association I will have an avenue through which I can market my products successfully while simultaneously supporting the Association and its goals.
Now I know that some of you also have goals with, and for, this Association or I wouldn't be writing you this letter. With that being said, I have a number of ideas and thoughts as to how the Association could be promoted and advanced to becoming successful in it's endeavors but I need some answers to questions I have before I can vocalize them. The following questions are for those of you who will be directly involved with this Association.
Does anyone have the certificates to take on the Financial Dep't Duties. This person must have extensive accounting qualifications to be able to dissect the possible numerous revenue generating activities the Association will incur.
Is there a Lawyer in the house. Do we have anyone within the legal profession to help with all that legal stuff?. Seriously now, we will definitely need help with tackling the various areas where the courts are involved, or in the creation of the Association itself. When it comes to being instrumental in creating a mushroom marketing board we must have legal representation presenting our cause.
Who is willing to take on the technical department of the Association? I know we have some Mushroom Scientists in the crowd, but is there anyone who can take on research, write presentations based on scientific findings and lead teams in research projects. We need someone who can teach in layman's terms and argue with well informed and educated pinpoint accuracy when the Association wishes to present causes.
Do we have members fluent in multiple languages and have a Marketing background? The Association will need to reach the world with the same clarity presented in North America.
Hopefully, by having bi-lingual staff or members on board we will be able to reach those within our country who do not understand English. A majority of harvesting improprieties are due to lack of education and therefore one of the Association's goals should be to teach when possible. If we can speak their language, they will learn to do what's right. What they do with that information is up to them. We can only hope!!
Do we have any members who can commit to remote studies? I have a project in mind and I am looking for certain personel who are willing to teach morel harvesting. If your interested in hearing more, contact me by phone.
Finally; What are your thoughts, ideas, goals and or directions for this Association? To insure those of us involved in the upcoming meeting are not wasting our time by having diverging goals in mind, we need to examine each others agenda. This is not to say that if we have some differences then this won't work, just that we need to refine what we can collectively do in order to be successful.
Well that's it for now, I'm done typing.
Here's to change Folk's